Randy, a Navy veteran with a spinal cord injury, recalls when he and his wife, Linda, first learned of Canine Companions for Independence. It was just days after his accident, while being treated at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, that Randy was introduced to Canine Companions Facility Dog Alma. Alma joined Randy in his hospital bed, a welcome distraction that eventually led Randy to apply for a Canine Companions assistance dog. In 2012, Randy was matched with Service Dog Niosh, who he and Linda lovingly nicknamed Neo.
Randy’s injury causes him mobility, balance and stamina issues. Neo assists Randy by picking up dropped items and delivering them to him. Neo’s help allows Randy to conserve his energy so that he is able to go to the gym regularly to maintain his mobility and keep up with his physical therapy. He also has the energy now to mentor high school students several days a week.
“Wherever I go and whatever I do, Neo is always there looking out for me,” says Randy. “He’s the best partner anyone could ask for.” Additionally, Neo serves as a visual reminder to people that Randy has a disability, so people generally give him more space, which makes being in public safer.
Randy and Linda knew they wanted to give back in some way to help Canine Companions continue to place incredible dogs like Neo with people with disabilities. Linda explains, “We wanted to support Canine Companions and its mission because it had such an impact on our lives.” The Wights’ involvement as donors to Canine Companions started with giving as Monthly Miracle Makers in 2011. Later, they joined the Heritage Society by including Canine Companions in their estate plans.
Randy and Linda have also paid it forward by volunteering. They’ve both served on the Northwest Region board of directors for Canine Companions since 2014. Linda has served on the Sit Stay Sparkle gala planning committee for the past three years, including as co-chair for the past two years. Linda’s career in human resources has also led her to serve on Canine Companions’ personnel committee, providing input and suggestions to Canine Companions’ human resources department.
Randy and Linda are amazed with Canine Companions’ volunteer community. Not only do they regularly meet people with similar interests, but they also enjoy this incredible support system. “It seems the more we give, the more we receive,” Linda says of their experience with Canine Companions.
We’re so fortunate that Linda and Randy generously donate their time, energy, expertise and funds to help Canine Companions. Our mission wouldn’t be possible without extraordinary volunteers and donors like them.
If you’d like to join Randy and Linda and help Give a Dog a Job, please visit http://www.cci.org/