8/1: Working Like a Dog

Mission Dogs bannner

August 1, 1:00–2:30 p.m. on the Lawn

Ever wondered what it takes to train a service dog?

Join trainers and service dogs from Mission Working Dogs for an introduction to service dogs. Learn the differences between service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support animals, the different populations they serve, and see examples of the tasks they’re trained to do.

Plus, get an overview of the rights and regulations associated with service dogs and learn all about Mission Working Dogs and their training center in Oxford, ME. We’ll be joined by staff and real service dogs from the organization!

Christy Gardner, founder and president of Mission Working Dogs, has been training service dogs and therapy dogs for the past ten years but wanted to grow that dream to help more Mainers in need. Mission Working Dogs was founded in July 2020 as a local non-profit to do just that. The organization serves to train service dogs and therapy dogs for the local community and provides a wide range of assistance, from individual service animals to therapy dogs, who are specifically trained to provide comfort and love in community settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools.


About Mission Working Dogs

Mission Working Dogs trains Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Facility Dogs. MWD works to improve the lives of community members who are living with a disability by providing them with properly trained service dogs to help them live more independently and by providing therapy dogs which will bring mental well-being to the people of Maine such as those in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools. At Mission Working Dogs, purpose-bred dogs are trained to aid individuals with disabilities so that the handler can live a life to the fullest and more independently.
Service dogs can assist those with physical disabilities such as mobility impairments by fetching dropped items, opening doors, and turning on and off lights. They can also help individuals with PTSD by learning to recognize an increase in anxiety, carrying medications, and providing deep pressure therapy to calm or redirect the handler. Dogs working as facility dogs are often trained to recognize a patient’s affected side in the case of a stroke and to approach on the side the patient is able to pet with or throw the ball. Patients are able to work on fine motor movements in petting or caring for the dog as well as gross motor skills by playing fetch. Service dogs are generally trained for approximately two years and undergo a wide range of assessments on their physical health, temperament, and tasks or skills to make sure they can properly support their handler throughout life.
Past service dogs from MWD trainers are helping their handlers live longer and more independent lives. Therapy dogs from MDW’s program work in schools providing emotional support, laughter, or even a listening ear for reading programs. Students in behavioral programs have also benefited from becoming “junior handlers” and working on their own patience and compassion while learning to work with the dogs to help others.

Mission Working dogs logoAbout Christy Gardner

Christina “Christy” Gardner is a 40-year-old retired Army veteran from Oxford, Maine. She was injured overseas in 2006 and spent nearly 5 rehabbing before was finally able to live on her own again and started participating in adaptive sports, thanks to her Service Dog Moxie. She’s been on the US Women’s Para Ice Hockey Team for 12 years and was an alternate for Tokyo 2020 in shot put and discus. She also represented the USA at the Para Surfing World Championships in 2020. Gardner has been training service dogs and therapy dogs for the past ten years but wanted to grow that dream to help more Mainers in need. Mission Working Dogs was founded in July 2020 as a local non-profit to do just that. The organization serves to train service dogs and therapy dogs for the local community and has started construction on a new training center in Maine.

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