After serving as a U.S Marine, Annabelle Weiss is now living her golden years with a service dog named Joe.
When Annabelle was 20, she enlisted into the Marines where she drove important military figures around in big jeeps and inspected airplane engines. She was discharged in 1946 after two years of service and soon began a new career as a nurse.
Whether she was wearing a military uniform or a nurse's smock, Annabelle spent her life helping others in every way she could. Now retired and 92 years old, she's experiencing health problems related to her service. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and getting around on her own soon turned into an impossible challenge.
But that was before she learned of an organization called America's VetDogs. The non-profit group supports the country's veterans, police force, and first responders by pairing them with trained service dogs. They introduced Annabelle to a yellow Labrador Retriever named Joe, and the two are now as close as family.
Annabelle and Joe live alone in Lindenhurst, New York where Joe helps his owner with everyday tasks. His job is to open and close drawers, bring her specific items, and support her when she needs to stand up from a chair or walk up the stairs. Weighing about 85 pounds, Joe is only five pounds lighter than Annabelle. She says;
"I'm not even five feet anymore. I've shrunk, or course!"
Many people think having a dog that matches you in size would be intimidating, but Annabelle is completely confident in Joe's ability and training. She told TODAY:
"I think he's pretty intelligent. In the house, he's a dog. When he's outside, he has his vest on, and he's on the job like a cop."
Whether he's bringing Annabelle the phone or walking with her through the park, Joe offers life-changing assistance to the aging veteran. When they go to their favorite diner, Joe greets his friends and helps Annabelle in and out of the booth. When they stop at the library, he helps her browse the shelves and even serves as her book club's unofficial mascot.
Before Annabelle found Joe, her health kept her indoors. Her mobility issues made getting around in public difficult, and she was quickly losing her independence. But now she says:
"He changed my life, he really did. Now people call me and I'm never home!"
What do you think of Annabelle and Joe's story? Let us know in the comments.
All images via America's VetDogs.
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