Lending a Helping Paw

Canine Companions service dog offers help and support after a life changing event

Joe seating in his wheelchair with service dog

Joe Latimer was riding his bicycle when a driver ran a red light. “That was the day that changed my life forever,” shares Latimer. The 2015 accident left Joe a quadriplegic and dependent on others for even simple tasks.

This new reality provided motivation for him to find ways to bring independence back into his life.  Upon learning of Canine Companions for Independence, Joe knew a service dog was exactly what he needed. After a two-week training session at the Canine Companions training center in Orlando, FL, Joe and Service Dog Helios became a team and have established a solid routine at home.

A talented digital media artist and creates educational videos for distance learning, Joe now describes himself as an artist without hands. Helios acts as an extension of Joe, taking on the tasks that hands no longer perform like picking up a stylus or turning on a light.

Joe works on his computer all day, but Helios reminds him to take a break.  During his meal breaks, Helios opens the refrigerator door and can turn on the lights.  “Before I had Helios, if I dropped something, I had to wait all day just to get it picked up.  Helios is happy to help,” says Latimer.

Nonprofit Canine Companions has been providing service dogs for over 45 years.

  • 6,600 assistance dogs matched
  • 335 dogs assisting military veterans
  • Over 1,600 dogs partnered with children
  • Teams working in all 50 states
  • 1,100 puppies being raised by volunteers
  • All provided free of charge!

With Helios by his side Joe says his quality of life, both mentally and physical has improved. “I’m proud of all of the hard work and sacrifices that everyone at Canine Companions makes for those with disabilities,” says Latimer. Watch Joe’s story here and learn more about how these exceptional service dogs are matched.