Dubbed Major after decorated veteran and former Phillies’ coach, scout, and goodwill ambassador Maje McDonnell, the 10-week-old puppy has been given an important mission: to become a specialized service dog so he can be placed with a veteran with a psychological or physical disability.
The new service pup initiative with Team Foster and Warrior Canine Connection was made possible through a Phillies Charities, Inc. grant, as well as an MLB 2023 Military Community grant.
“Phillies Charities, Inc. is proud to support the caring and training of Major as he works his way up the ranks from service pup to service dog,” said Phillies Director of Community and Charity Events Michele DeVicaris. “Thanks to Team Foster and Warrior Canine Connection, we know that Major is destined to bring joy, comfort and support to a very deserving veteran.”
A pure-bred black Labrador, Major will receive his service training through Warrior Canine Connection, a nonprofit organization that breeds, trains and places highly skilled service dogs with service members and veterans with visible and invisible wounds.
Major will spend two years in training with Warrior Canine Connection, where he will advance through a series of military ranks as he masters commands to support a future veteran with physical injuries and invisible wounds of war.
During this time, he will make various guest appearances at Phillies games, where he will meet fans and participate in military-themed and community events such as the team’s annual Salute to Veterans at Citizens Bank Park. His progress will also be followed on the team’s social media accounts.
When his mission of becoming a service dog is reached, Major will then be placed with a wounded veteran through Warrior Canine Connection with support from Team Foster, which has helped to connect over 400 veterans with service dogs to assist a vast array of injuries and disabilities, and whose motto is “No Hero Left Behind.”
“Having the Phillies support Team Foster is an invaluable asset in the fight for our veterans,” said Team Foster Founder and Executive Director Nick Liermann. “We are incredibly excited to showcase this service dog in training and share the journey of these life-saving canines with the Phillies community.”
“We are so honored and grateful to be working with the Phillies and Team Foster, which both have a history of providing unwavering support for our nation’s veterans, on this exciting, new puppy project,” said Warrior Canine Connection Founder and Executive Director Rick Yount. "The vital support of both organizations is making Major's training possible, while at the same time, honoring the pup’s veteran namesake in such a meaningful way.”