Charity Partner: Canine Companions for Independence
Location: Great Lakes, Illinois
Gander was saved from a Colorado high kill shelter, and was rescued by a women’s prison program in Denver, Colorado, for obedience training. He was then trained by Freedom Service Dogs in Englewood, Colorado. It was there, in September 2012, that Lon Hodge and Gander became a team. They have not spent one day apart since then and Lon credits Gander with literally saving his life. In 2014, Gander was the first mixed breed dog to win the American Kennel Club (AKC) “Award for Canine Excellence.”
Gander is on a mission. He travels the United States, 36 states thus far, to encourage education and awareness for PTSD, veteran suicide, service dogs, and persons with visible and invisible disabilities. While traveling he and Lon, his handler, perform Planned Acts of Community Kindness (PACKS), and fund raising: they’ve been instrumental in helping to raise a million dollars for numerous veterans’ groups, veterans, service dog charities, and individuals in need.
They sponsored the country’s first service dog education conference and have given hundreds of presentations to schools and community organizations and they created a collection of inspirational dog stories entitled “In Dogs We Trust.” They love to visit hospitals, USOs and community events as service dog ambassadors.