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Dog handler for a day: a dream comes true

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Smith, 23d Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer, gives bite suit instructions to Christopher Carswell at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Moody’s canine unit named Christopher an honorary dog handler for a day as he shadowed the unit and witnessed the various ways they protect the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Smith, 23d Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer, gives bite suit instructions to Christopher Carswell at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Moody’s canine unit named Christopher an honorary dog handler for a day as he shadowed the unit and witnessed the various ways they protect the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Brian Loveless, 23d Security Forces Squadron commander, and Christopher Carswell speak about military working dogs at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Christopher visited Moody to shadow the base’s MWD unit and become an honorary dog handler for the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Brian Loveless, 23d Security Forces Squadron commander, and Christopher Carswell speak about military working dogs at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Christopher visited Moody to shadow the base’s MWD unit and become an honorary dog handler for the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

Bronx, a German shepherd service dog for 13-year-old Christopher Carswell, sits outside the military working dog facility during a visit to Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Bronx is a trained medical alert dog and can detect when Christopher is about to have a seizure before a human can. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

Bronx, a German shepherd service dog for 13-year-old Christopher Carswell, sits outside the military working dog facility during a visit to Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Bronx is a trained medical alert dog and can detect when Christopher is about to have a seizure before a human can. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

Christopher Carswell and his service dog, Bronx, maneuver through a canine obstacle course at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Christopher, an epilepsy patient, has been paired with Bronx since 2010. Bronx helps Christopher with his mobility and has even detected some of his seizures, allowing him to receive medical attention quickly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

Christopher Carswell and his service dog, Bronx, maneuver through a canine obstacle course at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Christopher, an epilepsy patient, has been paired with Bronx since 2010. Bronx helps Christopher with his mobility and has even detected some of his seizures, allowing him to receive medical attention quickly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Brian Loveless, 23d Security Forces Squadron commander, shakes hands with Christopher Carswell after presenting him with a certificate of appreciation at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Loveless thanked Christopher for his charity work with an organization that helps provide service dogs to people who face various day-to-day challenges due to conditions like blindness and cancer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Brian Loveless, 23d Security Forces Squadron commander, shakes hands with Christopher Carswell after presenting him with a certificate of appreciation at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Loveless thanked Christopher for his charity work with an organization that helps provide service dogs to people who face various day-to-day challenges due to conditions like blindness and cancer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Smith, 23d Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer, presents a MWD t-shirt to Christopher Carswell at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Christopher shadowed the MWD unit for a day and witnessed what military canines do for Moody. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Smith, 23d Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer, presents a MWD t-shirt to Christopher Carswell at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Christopher shadowed the MWD unit for a day and witnessed what military canines do for Moody. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

Christopher Carswell absorbs a bite from a military working dog with help from U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Fischer, left, and Tech. Sgt. David Smith, 23d Security Forces Squadron MWD handlers, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Christopher said the best part of the day with the canine unit was watching and participating in the dog bite demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

Christopher Carswell absorbs a bite from a military working dog with help from U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Fischer, left, and Tech. Sgt. David Smith, 23d Security Forces Squadron MWD handlers, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., July 10, 2012. Christopher said the best part of the day with the canine unit was watching and participating in the dog bite demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter/Released)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- 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.