Galaxie picks up a shoe for Joe.

America’s VetDogs


A Hero’s Best Friend

Veteran Joe Worley can’t imagine life without his service dog.

Joe Worley recalls a time when running errands wasn’t easy for him. Once, he tripped and fell in the doorway of a store in his hometown near Atlanta, Georgia.

“I was in so much pain,” Worley recalls. “I felt helpless.”

Worley wasn’t able to simply get back on his feet. He had lost part of his left leg while serving with the United States Navy in a war. Worley uses a prosthetic leg, and can lose his balance.

Today, Worley doesn’t worry about feeling helpless. His service dog, Galaxie, helps keep him steady as he walks. If Worley feels like he’s losing his balance, he leans on Galaxie. The Labrador retriever also helps him go up and down stairs and pick up items.

“Galaxie has made my life so much easier,” says Worley. “I am extremely lucky.”

Galaxie is one of thousands of service dogs across the country trained to assist veterans with disabilities.

Joe Worley remembers when running errands wasn’t easy for him. Once, he tripped and fell in the doorway of a store in his hometown near Atlanta, Georgia.

“I was in so much pain,” Worley recalls. “I felt helpless.”

Worley couldn’t just get back on his feet. He had lost part of his left leg while serving with the United States Navy in a war. Worley uses a prosthetic leg. He can lose his balance.

Today, Worley doesn’t worry about feeling helpless. His service dog, Galaxie, helps keep him steady as he walks. If Worley feels like he’s losing his balance, he leans on Galaxie. The Labrador retriever also helps him go up and down stairs and pick up items.

“Galaxie has made my life so much easier,” says Worley. “I am extremely lucky.”

Galaxie is one of thousands of service dogs across the country trained to assist veterans with disabilities.

Phil Skinner/AP Images for Scholastic Inc

Joe Worley with his service dog, Galaxie. “We make a great team,” says Worley.

Serving Our Nation

Jim McMahon/MapMan®

In the Navy, Worley was a medical specialist. His job was to aid injured troops. On September 17, 2004, doing his job nearly cost him his life. Worley was serving in a war in Iraq, a country in Asia. He was riding in a truck when a bomb exploded under the vehicle in front of his. Worley was running to help the wounded when a second blast knocked him to the ground.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure I was going to live,” Worley says.

Most of his left leg was gone. His right leg was badly injured. He was airlifted back to the U.S. He spent more than a year in a military hospital. That’s where he was fitted for a prosthetic leg. Worley is one of more than 30,000 soldiers who were hurt in the war in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

After he was released from the hospital, Worley had to adjust to life without his left leg. Walking on the prosthetic was awkward and often painful, so he used a wheelchair most of the time. He hated having to rely on his wife to help him with everyday tasks.

In the Navy, Worley was a medical specialist. His job was to aid injured troops. On September 17, 2004, doing his job nearly cost him his life. Worley was serving in a war
in Iraq. That is a country in Asia. He was riding in a truck when a bomb exploded under the vehicle in front of his. Worley was running to help the wounded. A second blast knocked him to the ground.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure I was going to live,” Worley says.

Most of his left leg was gone. His right leg was badly injured. He was airlifted back to the U.S. He spent more than a year in a military hospital. That’s where he was fitted for a prosthetic leg. Worley is one of more than 30,000 soldiers who were hurt in the war in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

Worley was released from the hospital. He had to adjust to life without his left leg. Walking on the prosthetic leg was awkward and often painful. He used a wheelchair most of the time. He hated having to rely on his wife to help him with everyday tasks.

America's VetDogs

Galaxie opens a door for Worley by pulling a strap attached to a special handle.

A New Life

Worley’s life changed in 2008, when he decided to apply for a service dog. He contacted America’s VetDogs, one of dozens of organizations that pair injured veterans with service dogs. Worley says it was one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

Today, Galaxie goes everywhere with Worley. Knowing he has the dog to help him has given Worley more confidence. He still uses his wheelchair sometimes, but much less than he used to. When he does use it, Galaxie helps him open doors or pulls the wheelchair when Worley is tired.

Galaxie doesn’t just help Worley physically. The dog also gives him a boost when he’s having a bad day or feeling stressed.

“It’s really hard to be upset when you have a dog with their head in your lap,” says Worley.

Worley’s life changed in 2008. That’s when he decided to apply for a service dog. He contacted America’s VetDogs. It’s one of dozens of organizations that pair injured veterans with service dogs. Worley says it was one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

Today, Galaxie goes everywhere with Worley. Knowing he has the dog to help him has given Worley more confidence. He still uses his wheelchair sometimes, but much less than he used to. When he does use it, Galaxie helps him open doors. The dog also pulls the wheelchair when Worley is tired.

Galaxie doesn’t just help Worley physically. The dog also gives him a boost when he’s having a bad day or feeling stressed.

“It’s really hard to be upset when you have a dog with their head in your lap,” says Worley.

Warriors’ Best Friend

Special Helpers

Not all soldiers return from war zones with physical disabilities like Worley’s. But many veterans deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. They can have trouble sleeping or get nervous in crowds. America’s VetDogs also specially trains service dogs to help with these types of issues. Trainers teach the canines how to help veterans stay calm or to wake them up when they have a bad dream.

“They can help the veteran focus on the here and now if they have flashbacks to events that happened overseas,” says Kim Stasheff. She’s a trainer at America’s VetDogs.

Training service dogs takes a lot of time and patienceand money. Training one dog costs about $50,000. America’s VetDogs relies on donations to pay for training. Worley now works for the group, helping to raise money. He travels across the country giving speeches about his experience. Through it all, Galaxie is always by his side.

“Service dogs have changed the lives of so many veterans,” says Worley. “They’re absolutely priceless.”

Not all soldiers return from war zones with physical disabilities like Worley’s. But many veterans deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. They can have trouble sleeping. They can get nervous in crowds. America’s VetDogs also specially trains service dogs to help with these types of issues. Trainers teach the canines how to help veterans stay calm. They can train dogs to wake up veterans when they have a bad dream.

“They can help the veteran focus on the here and now if they have flashbacks to events that happened overseas,” says Kim Stasheff. She’s a trainer at America’s VetDogs.

Training service dogs takes a lot of time, patience, and money. Training one dog costs about $50,000. America’s VetDogs relies on donations to pay for training. Worley now works for the group. He helps to raise money. He travels across the country giving speeches about his experience. Through it all, Galaxie is always by his side.

“Service dogs have changed the lives of so many veterans,” says Worley. “They’re absolutely priceless.”

1. How do the first three paragraphs relate to the rest of the article?

2. What is the purpose of the section “Serving Our Nation”?

3. In what ways does Galaxie help Joe Worley? Include specific details.

4. How does the sidebar “A Second Chance” connect to the article?

1. How do the first three paragraphs relate to the rest of the article?

2. What is the purpose of the section “Serving Our Nation”?

3. In what ways does Galaxie help Joe Worley? Include specific details.

4. How does the sidebar “A Second Chance” connect to the article?

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