92-year-old Annabelle Weiss and her service dog, Joe, are absolutely inseparable.
At the age of 20, Weiss enlisted in the U.S. Marines, where she served for two years as a driver and plane engine inspector until she was discharged in 1946. Later, she worked as a nurse, and won a battle against thyroid cancer.
In 2013, Weiss learned about America’s VetDogs, which pairs veterans with trained service animals. They got her in touch with Joe the yellow Labrador, and since then, the two have become the best of friends.
The pair lives together in their Long Island home, and fills their days with activities. Joe has been very helpful in increasing Weiss’s mobility—with Joe by her side, her daily outings are much more comfortable and pleasant.
“He changed my life, he really did,” Wiess told TODAY. “Without him I would be at the house a lot. Now people call me and I’m never home!”
Weiss lives by herself, but she’s by no means alone thanks to Joe’s loyal company. At home, Joe opens and closes doors, picks up fallen items, and acts as a brace for when Weiss gets up from a chair or climbs stairs. He also fetches the phone, and opens drawers with cloths attached to the handles.
The two relax at home in the morning, and then spend their afternoon out on the town.
“In the house, he’s a dog,” Weiss said. “When he’s outside, he has his vest on, and he’s on the job like a cop.”
When the two go out on car rides, Joe enjoys laying down for a nap in the back of the car.
One of Weiss and Joe’s favorite spots is the Lindenhurst Memorial Library, where the two like to pick out good reads together. Joe is friendly to the library staff, and puts his paws on the desk while Weiss checks out books. The two attend a reading club at the library, and Weiss calls Joe the unofficial mascot.
Incidentally, the library has a display honoring veterans, in which Weiss’s name is proudly featured.
When lunchtime comes around, the Lindenhurst Diner is their go-to place. They eat at the diner once or twice a week, and Weiss says all the workers—including the owner—treat Joe like one of the regulars.
While Weiss eats, Joe settles down under the table for a nap, but not before checking for crumbs to make sure his spot is clean.
Weiss recalled an occasion when she explained to a worker at the diner just how much Joe means to her:
“The first time I brought Joe in, there was a young man cleaning the tables — he doesn’t speak English; he speaks Spanish — and he saw me with the dog, and he said, ‘Oh, perro.’ I corrected him and said ‘hijo!’ I speak a little Spanish. I told him, ‘He’s not my dog, he’s the son I never had.’”
As the day winds down, Weiss and Joe go on a walk in a park near their home—Joe loves the park so much, they visit almost every day! He enjoys being around birds, even if they might be afraid of him.
Rain or shine, indoor or outdoors, Joe stays faithfully by Weiss’s side as her helper and friend. He inspires his owner to stay active, and together, the two go on small adventures and seize each day to the fullest.
Weiss loves having Joe around, and says “He’ll follow me to the end of the earth.”
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