Stories

Phil Update – Service Dog in Training

February 10, 2020 Ashley Wilt

Today I wanted to give an update on Canine Companions puppy Phil. The Dogist is following Phil through his journey to become an assistance dog. Phil has grown in many ways since his arrival in May 2019. Physically, Phil has grown a ton! On May 10th, I was handed a tiny 11-pound ball of fur to begin our journey together. Now, when I look down at my side, a handsome 10-month-old, 53-pound dog walks beside me.

That first day, I tied the strings of a tiny cape around his chubby belly. He waddled side to side and turned in circles trying to see what I had put on him. Now, he shoves his head into his vest with such enthusiasm after I give him the “dress” command.

Phil spent his first week with me whining in his kennel at night as he adjusted to his new world. I comforted him and showed him just how safe and secure he was. Now, he regularly puts himself in his kennel for afternoon naps, and I often find him upside down and snoring away.

I spent the first couple of weeks with him teaching Phil simple commands, like responding to his name. Now, he has mastered about 30 commands! They include basic commands like, “sit,” “down” and “here,” and positional commands like, “let’s go,” “heel” and “side.” He has also learned commands that help him maneuver unobtrusively in public like “out,” “under” and “back.” Phil still has a lot more to learn but I think he is up for the challenge!

Phil’s journey began with short 10-minute outings to quiet coffee shops and libraries. He now tackles challenging outings to conventions and airports!

Phil has made a lot of progress since his arrival, but he is still a puppy. We are currently working through his distractibility and excitement. Phil is so enthusiastic about life and his job that it can be hard for him to settle down at times. Not to worry, his ability to remain calm will come with age and maturity.

Thank you for following along on Phil’s journey from puppy to service dog hopeful! To see updates on Phil’s training and more adorable pictures of him, you can follow his Instagram @fosteringpuppies. To learn more about Canine Companions for Independence, visit cci.org.