By Brian Boone
There are 3.8 million veterans with a service-related injury in the United States, and I am one of them.
In 2011, I was on tour with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan when the truck I was in struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). I sustained injuries to my back and lost my leg below the knee.
During my recovery, I met a fellow wounded veteran with a Canine Companions for Independence assistance dog. He told me how beneficial an assistance dog can be for a veteran recovering from an injury.
Canine Companions for Independence provides highly trained assistance dogs that are capable of doing physical tasks for a veteran with a disability at entirely no cost to the recipient. Trained in over 40 commands, Canine Companions assistance dogs can pick up dropped items, open doors, turn lights on and off, and pull a manual wheelchair. They can also alert handlers who are deaf or hard of hearing to sounds in the environment.
I really needed a dog to help pick things up. I struggle to bend over and knew a Canine Companions service dog could save me from a lot of pain associated with my injuries. Assistance dogs can pick up items as flat as a credit card, as small as a coin, or as bulky as a prosthesis.
In September 2014, I was matched with Brindle, a Yellow Labrador/Golden Retriever trained by Canine Companions for Independence and provided entirely free of charge. Brindle is a character and adds a whole element of excitement to our household. My son, who has autism, loves Brindle; definitely a benefit I didn’t expect for our whole family.
Brindle goes everywhere with me and helps me by retrieving my prosthetic leg or grabbing his own leash. I didn’t realize at first how much a dog would be able to help me, but he is so well trained. Brindle has brought me peace of mind knowing that my prosthesis is never out of reach.
Since Brindle is helping me conserve energy and mobility by retrieving things I drop, I can confidently say that Brindle always has my back.
Hundreds of people with disabilities are on a waitlist for a match with a Canine Companions assistance dog. By supporting Canine Companions, you can Give the Gift of Independence – and Give a Dog a Job.
Learn more at cci.org/giveadogajob.