One Team. Two Heroes
It takes a distinct form of courage to take on a job called “explosive ordnance disposal technician,” especially while serving in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan. Charlie Linville is that kind of brave.
Even while recounting how he was injured, Charlie is matter-of-fact. “I stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device). When I came to and figured out what happened, my leg and hand were severely damaged and I had some brain injuries,” says Charlie. “When I was injured, I had been in the best shape of my life. Then I ended up in a hospital bed for over a year. My family had to do everything for me. I was depressed and in a bad place. For 18 months after my injury I had my right leg. I had several surgeries to try to save it, but I was in so much pain I decided to have it amputated and live a happy life.”
Although Charlie had every reason to feel sorry for himself, he’s moved on. “You take the word impossible. Break it into two: I’m possible,” Charlie points out. “I asked myself, ‘How hard am I going to work?’” He not only got back in shape, but he became the first combat-wounded veteran to reach the top of Mt. Everest.
Still, Charlie needs help with everyday tasks. That’s where Service Dog Devon comes in. Charlie received Devon free of charge from Canine Companions for Independence®. Devon is trained in 40 commands to help Charlie be more independent. “I have a lower spine injury that makes my left leg go numb so my balance isn’t always what it needs to be,” Charlie explains. “When I’m using my cane and carrying something, having Devon with me to pick up something that I’ve dropped, open a door or hit a light switch is a big day-to-day thing for me when I’m out in public. He makes everything I do in my life so much better.”
At home, Charlie does not always use his prosthetic leg. “Devon has learned to bring me my prosthesis when I’m sitting on the couch or lying in bed. He also takes care of the simple task of bending over to get something when I’m in a lot of pain,” explains Charlie.
Although not trained to do so, Devon has also helped alleviate Linville’s episodes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “On days when I have mental issues or physical pain, his eyes make everything feel better. He’s always happy and has unconditional love, which is especially important when you’re experiencing PTSD. Some days I would have chosen not to participate in life and just stay in the house. But Devon is there to put his head in my lap as if to say, ‘Let’s go.’
Charlie is one of hundreds of military veterans who have received assistance dogs from Canine Companions.
“Canine Companions assistance dogs are amazing gifts,” says Charlie. “They change people’s lives.”
Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence is a national nonprofit that places expertly-trained assistance dogs like Devon with adults, children and veterans with disabilities entirely free of charge to recipients.
The organization has placed nearly 6,000 assistance dogs with people with disabilities, including veterans like Charlie. The organization relies on volunteer puppy raisers to help train basic obedience and crucial socialization to Canine Companions puppies—one of many volunteer opportunities.
Apply for a free service dog, donate or learn how you can help Give a Dog a Job® at cci.org.