Elijah, a Golden Labrador, is one special dog. When
he was just eight weeks old, he left his mother and siblings to live under the
care of Ashley Wilt. Wilt is a puppy-raiser who volunteers for a non-profit
organization, Canine Companions for Independence.
You see, Elijah was on a special journey to becoming a much sought-after service dog, and Wilt was raising him for this incredibly important job.
While Elijah was growing up, Wilt learned just what
a gentle, loving soul Elijah is, and knew he’d make the perfect service dog.
But no dog is born with all the knowledge needed to take on this responsible
role. They have to be trained, Elijah included.
Service dogs need to be able to assist and guide
their handlers under varying conditions. Loud noises and busy crowds often
spook the average dog, but these conditions are common to people’s everyday
lives. That’s why service dogs need to learn to cope with a wide range of
conditions, including noise and crowds.
You might not think of Disneyland as being the
perfect training ground for a service dog, but it turned out to be the perfect
learning experience for Elijah, who, at the beginning of 2019, was just two
years old and still in training.
Wilt decided to take Elijah to the “happiest place
on earth” for a bit of fun. But the trip had a serious reason behind it, too.
Wilt needed to teach Elijah how to behave in large, noisy crowds, with lots of
children and movement.
Luckily for us, Wilt decided to photograph Elijah’s
Disney trip along the way. And what a great bunch of pics she took. In every
one, Elijah looks as though he’s having the time of his life. His peaceful but
powerful personality is palpable when he poses with some of Disney’s favorite
He posed with everyone from Winnie the Pooh to Snow
White, and the result is a fabulous collection of photographs. And it’s not
only Elijah who had all the fun. It seems like the Disney characters he met on
his trip had as much fun as he did judging from the looks on their faces.
As much as Elijah’s day at Disney was fun and happy
for all concerned, Wilt was anxious to know how the young dog would manage
himself among hordes of people and in noisy, unfamiliar territory. She needn’t
have worried. It turns out that beautiful Elijah is just as calm and controlled
as he looks.
He took Disney in his stride and had a great time to boot. His peaceful temperament is bound to stand him in great stead when he finally gets to become a full-time service dog. Whoever gets to share their life with Elijah is going to be a lucky person indeed, and they can rest assured that a visit to Disney will be child’s play for this loyal pup.