• The Phoenix Canine Initiative

    The Phoenix Canine Initiative is a peer supported dog training program for service and therapy dogs.

    We have had the absolute pleasure of being able to support #ivegotyourback911 in their mission of supporting the  mental health of our first responders. An amazing opportunity has arisen to have a limited number of service dogs sponsored through their fundraising efforts.

    To be eligible for this program we ask that you fill out the online form. We will be contacting those applicants that have been successful at moving to the next interview stage.

    At this time we are only able to accommodate individuals who are within a 1 hour commute of St Thomas.


Difference between therapy and service dogs?

This is a very commonly asked question. Basically, a therapy dog spreads love to a group of people - nursing homes, children’s centers, hospitals, libraries, etc. They can be touched, petted, loved, talked to and cuddled with. They should have been successful at obtaining an evaluation by a qualified organization such as Pet Partners (petpartners.org) or St. John’s Ambulance Therapy Dogs prior to attending any visits or wearing a vest identifying them as a THERAPY DOG. Their handler is generally very happy to stop and talk and answer any questions you may have about the dog or what their job is. THERAPY dogs do not have public access rights. They are only permitted to be in places that allow all dogs, or where they have obtained written special permission from the organization they are attending.

A service dog is a medical device that has been trained to provide a ‘service’ to one individual to mitigate their own specific disability. Their handler has been identified by their health care provider as needing a specially trained dog to help them with their day to day living. They will have been through 2 years of intensive training ensuring that they are able to be consistent and reliable in performing their designed task in any situation to keep their handler safe. They will be clearly identified with a vest saying SERVICE DOG. It can be very difficult for someone to approach these dogs. They are focused and working to make sure their owner is able to be out in public. Please respect the privacy of these teams. It can be very distracting and unnerving to have multiple come up and ask questions when these teams are working. SERVICE dogs have public access rights and can be in places that other dogs do not have access to.

SERVICE DOG IN TRAINING: You will see dogs wearing these vests. Please treat them as service dogs. They are doing the appropriate steps in practicing being the very best they can be, but have not passed their final examination for service dog qualifications yet. Identifying improperly trained service dogs: these are the dogs who are wearing vests purchased on their own with little to no training. Unfortunately, this does happen. There are ways to ensure the safety of the public in these situations. For further information please contact The Phoenix Canine Initiative directly.

How long does it take to train a service dog?

Approximately 2 years.

Is a service dog right for me?

This will depend on your needs and expectations. Types of conditions that a PTSD service dog can help with is anxiety, night terrors, medication retrieval, dissociation, depression. This list is not extensive.

What type of dog is best?

This will depend on your needs and something that requires individual attention to make sure the fit is right for you.

How soon should you start training?

Day 1! Training starts on the very first day that you pick the breeder or dog that is right for you. Having a solid foundation is vital to long term success.

How does the program work?

There are multiple options for both board and train and self train options within our program.

Are there Funding Options?

There are very flexible payment options as considered on a case by case basis.

How do I apply?

Fill out the intake form below and we will get back to you as soon as we possibly can.