Annabelle Weiss, 92, is proof that you’re never too old to adopt a dog. A yellow Labrador named Joe is a trained service dog that has helped the military veteran continue her spunky, adventurous life.
At 92, Weiss has a fascinating story to tell. She joined the U.S. Marines when she was just 20 years old, working as a driver and plane inspector. After her discharge in 1946, Weiss moved to New York and worked as a nurse.
As time went on, Weiss found herself experiencing health problems related to her military service. Living alone in a Long Island suburb, Weiss was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and knew she may need some help.
Wanting to maintain her independence as much as possible, Weiss turned to America’s VetDogs, an organization that matches veterans with service animals. She met the fluffy, youthful Joe, and the rest is history.
Weiss says that thanks to Joe, she leads an active and busy life. The pair regularly takes walks, visits the local library, and stops at the diner for a bite to eat.
Joe even accompanies Weiss to the grocery store, sleeping in the backseat of her car. “Yes, I still do drive!” Weiss exclaims.
“People say, boy, you’re such a peanut, what are you driving for?” Weiss grinned. “If only they know what I used to drive! (In the Marines) I drove jeeps, big trucks, station wagons. I used to drive the colonel around.”
While Joe spends his mornings lounging around the house, he knows that afternoons are made for working. “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.”
Joe helps his beloved human with all sorts of tasks, from opening and closing dresser drawers, to picking up objects, to bringing Weiss her phone. “I tell him ‘phone’ and he brings me the phone. Not that I always need it. Sometimes I say it just to keep him sharp,” she said.
The pair regularly frequents the Lindenhurst Diner, where Joe quietly tucks himself under the table to grab a few crumbs and a nap. Weiss admits that cooking isn’t exactly her forte.
“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.’”
Weiss and Joe are perfect companions, keeping each other busy, active, and filled with love. “He’ll follow me to the end of the earth,” a happy Weiss smiled.
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