Double amputee veteran trains 3-legged puppy as therapy dog for kids

Image 1 of 5

Meet Lucky.

The adorable, 3-legged puppy is bringing smiles to schoolchildren in his hometown of Lewiston, Maine, and around the country, thanks to his mommy: double amputee, U.S. Army veteran Christy Gardner.

In 2006, Gardner, 36, was working as a military police officer. During a mission overseas, she suffered injuries so severe that both of her legs had to be amputated. 

It was a huge life adjustment for Gardner--one that left her feeling sad and unsure about her future. Then her doctor suggested that she get a service dog to help her with daily tasks. In 2010, she was paired up with Moxie, a golden retriever from  K9's For Warriors in Ponte Vedra, Florida. 

Gardner says that over time, Moxie became a lifesaver.

“Now, I can’t imagine getting through a day without her," Gardner tells People. "She motivates me to stay active and healthy, going for extra walks and forcing me to keep my muscles moving and my weight down, as well as helping with simple tasks.”   

But Moxie doesn't just help her with tasks: she inspires her to live life to the fullest and push herself harder than ever. Gardner is now a para-athlete, competing with the U.S. Women's Sled Hockey team. 

Because of the joy that Moxie has brought in to her life, Gardner has decided to pay it forward and help others who need it. That's where Lucky comes in. 

Gardner met Lucky, A.K.A Tiny Tim, through a dog breeder in her area. But Lucky isn't just any puppy. He had a disability much like Gardner. He was born with missing wrist bones in his right front leg that would need to be amputated. Gardner decided to take the little guy under her wing and train him to be a therapy dog for school children.

Gardner chronicled Lucky's training and surgery on the Facebook page 'Little Guy, BIG Mission.' Lucky made it through the amputation surgery with flying colors and has been thriving in his home with Gardner and big sister, Moxie. 

Lucky has also been winning over fans and doctors. VetriScience, an animal nutritional supplement maker in Vermont, made a generous donation of $10,000 to cover all of Lucky’s surgery expenses. There's also a GoFundMe set up to help pay for Lucky's future veterinarian bills. 

Since the surgery, Lucky has been on the go! From ice fishing outings to baseball games, he's already been spreading happiness around the country, having took his first flight with Gardner and Moxie this week from Maine to St. Louis for the K9’s on the Frontline inaugural gala. 

The goal after training is complete is to have Lucky work in a local school.