With the help of many dedicated volunteers, Canine Companions for Independence has been able to sponsor and train more than 5,000 dogs for people living with disabilities.
Dr. Philip Davis was drawn to the idea this time last year. On Oct. 31, he introduced 3-month-old Journey, a yellow lab, to his office staff.
"I spend about 16 hours a day with that puppy," Davis said.
Davis describes Journey as a loveable, friendly pup.
"She's usually very calm," Davis said.
On Wednesday, Journey must have wanted to show off for the camera. She found a jingle ball Christmas ornament and showed it who was boss.
Patients and staff couldn't help but smile as the excited pup chased the ornament around the office at full speed.
"How you can not love a face like that? She's a sweetie," said Jeannie Nieto, who works for Davis.
While Davis is seeing patients, Nieto and her co-workers help him with Journey.
"We all pitch in," Nieto said. "We play with her, we take her outside. She's become part of the family!"
Davis sees about 24 patients a day. In between appointments, he teaches Journey basic commands. This, along with socialization, its what he'll focus on for the next 18 months.
"She's just such a smart dog," Davis said.
Ronald Gelzer, Davis' patient, is an Army veteran. He knows this dog will make a positive impact on someone's life and he's proud of his dentist for taking on the challenge.
"It takes courage. He had the heart to step up to the plate, so my hat's off to him," Gelzer said.
While Journey is adorable, she's also a big responsibility.
"I've never done this before," Davis said. "I've never raised a dog."
But you make time for what's important to you.
"I'm in the business of helping people anyway, with toothaches and such," Davis said. "This is just another avenue for me to do service above self."
Davis said the greatest reward will be when he hands Journey over to her new owner at a graduation ceremony in Irving.
"And will I do it again? I might," Davis said with a smile.
To find out how you can become a puppy raiser, click here.
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