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Farragut’s ‘Tramp’ Phil doing well

Cressie Darling, pet care manager at Concord Veterinary Hospital, and Phil, the Tramp, pause for a picture.- Tracy K. Morgan/farragutpress
Most long-time Farragut residents remember Phil, the dog that once claimed the Phillips 66 gas station at Campbell Station Road and Kingston Pike as his home.

For approximately seven years, the Australian shepherd mix was considered by many to be a part of the Farragut landscape. The dog was dubbed “Phil” since he was seen daily hanging around the Phillips 66 gas station.

Many residents supplied the gas station with food for Phil and his pack of six or seven additional stray dogs.

Life seemed to be as good as it gets for the pooches – free food, no leashes, and no rules to follow – until Animal Control showed up in June 1999.

Phil and his pack were captured and taken to the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley.

All of Phil’s friends were adopted.

But Phil, who bared his teeth to one and all, seemed bound for that dreaded fate of euthanasia.

Out of options and as a last-ditch attempt to save Phil’s life, the executive director of the Humane Society called Wendy Graziani, a veterinarian at Concord Veterinary Hospital.

“He (Phil) was neutered, but then it was determined that he was indeed feral and not adoptable,” Graziani recalled. “I without question said, ‘do not euthanize the dog, I’d be there the next day’.

“I got to the shelter and they almost didn’t let me see Phil since he was deemed a biter,” she said. “Finally, they closed the doors in the room where Phil was, and I opened his cage – they were watching through a glass window.”

After a few tries Graziani managed to slip a cotton leash over Phil’s neck. Without any resistance, the dog walked out with her into a fenced-in area.

“I remember sitting down on a block wall and Phil sat down beside me,” she said. “Without looking at him I petted his head, looked in his ears, picked up a foot, and announced to them, ‘Give me the adoption papers.’”

Graziani took Phil back to the hospital where she works, but not without incident.

After a few weeks of life “off the streets,” Phil was treated for heartworm and internal parasites. Graziani was the only one who restrained the dog for the required injections and blood tests.

“I think it was his last blood test, three months after his heartworm treatment,” Graziani said. “I was restraining him and he wiggled enough that he put four teeth marks in (my) neck – no hard feelings, he was protecting himself.”

Several months after Phil’s arrival at the hospital’s kennel, a very pregnant mixed breed dog was brought to the hospital. “Belle” had been found living in a barn with several other dogs. Four days later, she had six puppies. Graziani kept one.

“After several attempts to place Belle in a home we decided that her purpose or destiny was to become Phil’s pack,” Graziani said.

Phil, who is most likely between 14-17 years of age, has adjusted very well to kennel life, Graziani said.

He and Belle walk outside without leashes in the fenced-in exercise area each day. They go back inside on command where they go directly to their run for breakfast. They go out again in the middle of the day, and just before the kennel closes.

Graziani said Phil will let a few people brush him, but as a rule doesn’t like human contact.

“He only ever barks at strangers and is generally only handled by staff members that have come to know him since,” she warned, “he truly is a feral dog.”

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