LEWISTON — Heroes, dogs, and new kinds of life-long learning will be the focus of the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College Senior College’s next “Food for Thought” Zoom session.

Christy Gardner, the founder and president of Mission Working Dogs, a Lewiston-based nonprofit that trains purpose-bred dogs to aid individuals with disabilities, will be featured at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 18.

Gardner’s passion for dogs has deep, personal roots. Serving as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Military Police in Asia, she survived an injury in 2006 which eventually led her to accept her Golden Retriever service dog, Moxie, in 2010. The two became inseparable, and Moxie has accompanied her on many “missions” of their own, including competing with Team USA as an athlete on the Women’s Para Ice Hockey Team and on the USA Para Surfing Team.

Gardner is a world-ranked Para thrower and is aspiring to make the US Paralympic Team for Tokyo 2021. As a certified dog trainer with nine years of experience training service and therapy dogs, and five years of experience with breeding, she has brought her dream of empowering others to fruition with the creation of Mission Working Dogs.

Gardner lives in Maine with her dogs Moxie, Doug and Libby. They enjoy everything the outside has to offer, from kayaking and hiking to hanging out at their camp in Western Maine.

In this presentation for Food For Thought, she will introduce her dogs and teach how service dogs can assist those with physical disabilities, individuals with PTSD, stroke patients, and others. These dogs and their trainers create an environment in which the handler can live a life to the fullest and more independently.

To get a link to this presentation, email [email protected]. Sign up by noon Wednesday, March 17, to receive a link through email. People should list their name and the name of the presenter they wish to see.