An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Dog handler for a day: a dream comes true

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jamal Sutter
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
Courage is a quality often associated with fighters, and fighting is something 13-year-old Christopher Carswell has been doing since he was born.

Christopher, an epilepsy patient, has dealt with and overcome many health problems over the years including partial blindness, joint issues and seizures. In 2007, his fist seizure sent him into cardiac arrest and left him in a coma for seven and a half hours.

The Brunswick, Ga., native recently visited Moody Air Force Base, Ga., where he shadowed the base's military working dog unit and was named an honorary dog handler for a day.

Christopher is no stranger to dogs though. His German shepherd service dog, Bronx, helps him with mobility and has even detected some of his seizures, allowing Christopher to receive medical attention quickly. In fact, with inspiration from Bronx, Christopher decided he wanted to make a difference. He did this by founding 1Boy4Change, an organization that raises money for special needs children.

1Boy4Change uses donations to provide service dogs to those who face various day-to-day challenges in hopes of helping them gain back their confidence and independence.

"It's really just to help make a change for the world," Christopher said. "I have a service dog for myself, and I know how hard it was to go through all that."

Due to his community service, U.S. Air Force Maj. Brian Loveless, 23d Security Forces Squadron commander, presented a certificate to Christopher and thanked him for all that he does.

"The certificate was our method of showing Chris appreciation for what he does in the community, for his bravery and for his inspiration that he provides," Loveless said. "Not too often do we deal with youth of his caliber so we just wanted to reflect our appreciation."

Having the opportunity to be a dog handler alongside Moody's canine unit was amazing, Christopher said. It was after being paired with Bronx in 2010 when he said his interest in being a dog handler peaked. Due to his partial blindness, he was told he'd be unable to become one.

For one day though, the dog lover was able to live out his dream with some of Moody's finest.

"The event today was a canine demonstration for Christopher and his family to show them exactly what our military working dogs do for security forces and Moody as a whole," Loveless said. "Whenever we have individuals out there in the community who do charitable work like Chris and his family are doing in the service dog community, we always take that opportunity to show them what we do as well."

During the demonstration, Christopher witnessed some of Moody's MWDs in action as they challenged simulated aggressors. He even geared up in a training suit and took a shot at withstanding a dog bite, which left him with minor war scars.

"That was a lot of fun," he said with excitement. "A tad painful at one point, but at least I got something to show off."

He also got a chance ride in a patrol car to see how the MWDs respond to felony traffic stops.

After a full schedule of events, the day wasn't over for Christopher after parting with the dog unit. His pursuit for helping others and his fight to make a difference continued as he and his family left Moody to pick up three more service dogs that will make companions to some deserving citizens.