“Christy Gardner: A Warrior’s Journey of Resilience and Empowerment 🇺🇸🐾
Meet Christy Gardner, an Army veteran who has dedicated her life to training service dogs for fellow veterans through her organization, Mission Working Dogs. Her story is one of incredible determination and the transformative power of canine companionship.
Christy’s dream of serving in the Army was cut short when she suffered life-altering injuries during a peacekeeping mission in 2006. She endured spinal cord damage, organ damage, limb trauma, facial fractures, and the loss of both legs. Her prognosis was bleak, with doctors predicting a lifetime of dependency on caregivers.
However, a turning point came when Christy was introduced to the idea of a service dog during her stay at Walter Reed Hospital. Moxie, a golden retriever, became her lifeline, helping with mobility and seizure alert tasks due to her epilepsy. Moxie not only restored Christy’s independence but also ignited her passion for training dogs to help other veterans.
In July 2020, Christy founded Mission Working Dogs, starting with just four dogs and now expanding to 58. The organization is set to open a new campus next month, equipped to continue its life-changing work.
Through her program, Christy has graduated thirteen service dogs, with most assisting veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mobility challenges. The impact has been profound, with some veterans crediting their survival to their canine companions.
Christy works with various breeds, training them in essential tasks like opening doors, operating lights, and even assisting with groceries. She finds immeasurable joy in witnessing these dogs’ learning process and their deep connection with their owners.
Despite the loss of her first service dog, Moxie, in 2020, Christy adopted another service dog named Doug. Through relentless therapy and unwavering determination, she has regained an active lifestyle, participating in sports like snowboarding, water-skiing, surfing, and para-ice hockey.
Christy’s inspiring journey has also been captured in two children’s books, with half of the proceeds supporting Mission Working Dogs. A third installment is in the works, aimed at spreading the message of hope and resilience.
Eileen Doyon, the author of the books, describes Christy as an inspiration who refuses to make excuses and always lends a helping hand to fellow disabled veterans. Christy’s story reminds us that life can be better, and dreams are worth pursuing, no matter the challenges we face. 🌟🇺🇸 #Veterans #ServiceDogs #Inspiration”