Canine Companions for Independence is a national nonprofit that trains service dogs for children and adults with disabilities and veterans with PTSD. 

They also train dogs to work at facilities like McLane Children's Hospital. 

The most amazing part? These animals are provided free of charge. But there's a lot of work that goes into getting them ready for their big jobs.

One dog going through this hard work is Phil Davis' dog Journey.

Davis is a Temple dentist and CCI puppy raiser who first heard about the nonprofit during a Rotary Club meeting in January of 2018.

"It touched my heart," Davis said. "I know there's a lot of people getting back from the war's over at Fort Hood, and they could use a dog like this for their situations-- whether it is physical problems or mental. The dogs are made for that very, very chore.

When he first learned about CCI, he knew he needed to help out.

"I thought, you know, this would be a great thing to do to have in my office with patients. Everybody loves dogs, and it's a lot of fun."

Davis decided to apply to be a puppy raiser, even though he'd never had a dog before. 

The application process was intense.

"Someone actually comes to the house to see if the yard is okay for a puppy and the house and then everybody's on board to do this. If there's any other pets in the house."

Ten months later, Davis met Journey.

"She was born on Sept. 6, and I received her on Halloween night. She was shipped from Santa Rosa, California, where all the puppies are raised and shipped to the puppy raiser across the nation to six different regional facilities for CCI. That's when I started the journey with Journey."

As a puppy raiser, Davis is responsible for Journey's food, medical bills, socialization and basic training.

He also takes her to work every day. 

"She goes with me to the Rotary Club. She goes with me to Lowes, to Walmart, you name it. We go everywhere together. While I'm driving down the road, she'll put her little nose right there on the seat right behind me and look out as I'm traveling down the road."

At the office, Journey welcomes patients and sits with them when they're having procedures.

"I have noticed at her young age, she has an affinity for children," Davis said. "When I have kids in the office and she hears those kids, I'm telling you what she is ready to go. She loves kids."

But Journey's life isn't all work and no play. 

"She loves to play. We typically play early in the morning before any patients get there. We'll toss things down the hall and she'll run and chase it and fetch it. When I'm at home with her she's just a dog-- I mean she likes to fetch. She loves to swim."

Journey will be with Davis for a total of 18 to 20 months. After that, she'll go to Irving for more intensive training for another six to nine months. 

If she passes the Irving stage, she'll be paired with a job.

"Everybody says, 'How are you going to give that dog up after 18 to 20 months?' Well, when you see what these dogs do for people, it makes it a little easier. It's not a pet. It's a project," Davis said. "These are extraordinary animals for extraordinary people, and It is amazing what they do for them."

Leslie Draffin will be following Journey's journey for the next several months as she continues her training with Davis and eventually moves on to Irving. You can catch the weekly updates on her Instagram page as well as the KCEN Instagram page.

Also, look for stories on Journey's Journey each month on Channel 6.

If you'd like to find out how you could become a puppy raiser - or if you think your family could benefit from one of these extraordinary animals, you can find all the information you need here.

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