Assistance Dog Changes Life of Quadruple Amputee

Non-profit assistance dog organization celebrates International Assistance Dog Week

person in wheelchair with Canine Companions service dog

Imagine going in for a routine surgery and waking up as a quadruple amputee, fighting for your life. This nightmare was a reality for Annette Ramirez. Instantly, the dedicated wife, employee and mother was completely dependent on others for daily living. That is, until Canine Companions for Independence® assistance dog Patch entered the picture.

“My life was shattered after surgery,” says Annette. “I had been deeply involved in my community, family and work for over 25 years. Now I have Patch to help me do things that would be impossible as a quadruple amputee. He opens doors, picks up anything I drop and helps pay at the store.” Service Dog Patch has given Annette the confidence and companionship to experience everyday life both inside and outside of her home.

Assistance dogs like Patch are being recognized August 6-12, 2017 during International Assistance Dog Week for the devotion and hard work they do to mitigate the effects of disabilities for people like Annette. The week acknowledges the heroic deeds of assistance dogs in the community and the thousands of dedicated volunteer puppy raisers and professional trainers of assistance dogs.

Canine Companions for Independence created the concept of a highly-skilled assistance dog for people with physical disabilities, provided entirely free of charge to recipients. Trained in over 40 commands, independence and quality of life can improve greatly for an assistance dog team.

  • 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have a disability
  • 3.8 million veterans have a service-connected disability
  • 8% of American children under age 15 have a disability
  • 91% of adults who received a Canine Companions service dog report increased independence
  • In 2016, Canine Companions placed 366 teams and since its founding has placed nearly 5,500 teams including 225 with veterans
  • Over 3,000 volunteers and 33 volunteer chapters help raise funds and awareness through timeless hours of volunteer work
  • Over 450 people are on the waitlist to receive an assistance dog

“We get the rare opportunity to come to work and make people like Annette’s lives better,” says Canine Companions Instructor Becky Miller. “We help people reclaim their independence, and often, redefine their sense of self through partnership with a dog like Patch.”

Help spread the word on International Assistance Dog Week by celebrating with Canine Companions. Here are some ways to get involved:

  • Are you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media networks? Use social media to spread the word. Tweet or post to your friends and ask them to like or follow Canine Companions or share our posts.
  • Do you have a great story about your Canine Companions assistance dog? Share your story here.
  • Make a Donation. You can honor International Assistance Dog Week by making a donation in honor of a dog or person that has changed your life at

Have other ideas on how to help spread the word on assistance dogs during International Assistance Dog Week? Let us know at