Judging by the number of dog friendly bars we’ve visited, it may seem like we’re all play and no work.

But real talk, we love working for a good cause. So, this Independence Day we’re putting our pints down and celebrating all the dogs who selflessly give back to their human counterparts. And we can’t think of a better organization to spotlight than Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by pairing them with professional service dogs.

Canine Companions are specially trained to be the ears, hands, and legs of their human partners—and much more. These working dogs are true ambassadors for independence and goodwill. They work around the clock to help their humans live their lives to the fullest, resulting in a bond that only best friends can understand.

The cause is made possible by a dedicated team of volunteers who care for the dogs—nurturing newborn pups for the first eight weeks and spending the next 14-18 months raising them to master more than 40 specialized commands before they’re sent to their forever homes, free of charge to recipients.

Once the pups—a lovable bunch of Labrador and golden retrievers—graduate from their team companion training, they’re matched with an adult, child, or veteran who can benefit from a helping hand—er, paw. Some of the dogs also team up with human professionals who assist clients with special needs.

This true team effort has resulted in countless happy stories, just one of which belongs to Charlie and Devon, a veteran service dog team. After enduring severe injuries while serving as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan, Charlie needed some assistance with everyday tasks—despite keeping an extraordinarily positive outlook, and even climbing Mount Everest. Enter: Devon III.

“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 the dog 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.”

Devon also helps out around the house, fetching Charlie’s prosthetic leg or getting his wife’s attention when needed. “Just having someone with me to help do things that are really difficult or painful…really affects my life in a positive way,” says Charlie, who is one of more than 100 military veterans who’ve received a Canine Companion assistance dog.

May we all channel our inner canine companions and care for each other a little more this Independence Day, and every day. After all, today is about freedom—not getting drunk in your most ridiculous red, white, and blue attire.

Feeling patriotic? Show your support by helping a friend out when you volunteer or donate to the cause.

waggle

A group of dog lovers that enjoy a good game of fetch in the park, a cold drink at a sidewalk patio, and Instagramming dog selfies with the best of them. We're working hard to find the best stories about our shared dog culture for you and your best friend.