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Jeannette and Gaza: Empowering Bond Through First Service Doubles

Jeannette Tarqueno, a Navy Veteran, has discovered a profound connection and newfound passion through her involvement in First Service Doubles (FSD), an innovative adaptive tennis program tailored for Veterans, First Responders, and adults with invisible injuries. Partnered with her loyal companion, Gaza, Jeannette exemplifies the transformative power of sport and companionship in overcoming challenges.

FSD breaks barriers by welcoming individuals with a range of invisible injuries, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), anxiety, seizures, and diabetes, along with their support dogs. For Jeannette, Gaza is not just a pet but an integral part of her life. Their journey began with Jeannette's participation in the "Four Paws and Wake up" program in North Carolina, where she engaged in Owner Assisted Training Service (OAT). Under the guidance of Four Paws NC staff and volunteers, Jeannette trained Gaza to become her service dog, forging a strong bond built on trust and companionship.

The integration of Gaza into Jeannette's active lifestyle has been a game-changer. With FSD, they found a shared avenue for exercise and camaraderie. Jeannette emphasizes, "The best part of the FSD experience for me is that it allows me to do something with my dog, Gaza, where she actually gets to participate." Gaza's involvement transcends mere companionship; she becomes an active participant in Jeannette's endeavors, bringing joy and fulfillment to both.

Beyond personal fulfillment, Jeannette and Gaza's presence at FSD has a ripple effect, impacting those around them. Jeannette remarks, "It’s great when I can see her have fun while working and not just sitting on the sidelines. It’s also been great to see people who come to the club to play tennis, also stop to watch us." Their partnership inspires onlookers, fostering a sense of inclusion and admiration within the community.

Navigating life with a service dog presents its own set of challenges, but Jeannette finds solace and support in the welcoming environment of Park Forest Tennis and her coach, Chris Tudor (located in Park Forest, Illinois). Reflecting on her experience, Jeannette expresses gratitude, stating, "Having a service dog can be difficult. The gym and Chris are super amazing and have been very supportive."

In Jeannette and Gaza's story, we witness the profound impact of companionship, resilience, and inclusivity. Through FSD, they have not only discovered a platform for physical activity but also a community that celebrates their journey and uplifts their spirits. Together, they exemplify the transformative power of sport in overcoming adversity and forging unbreakable bonds of friendship.

In the realm of adaptive sports, Jeannette and Gaza stand as a testament to the determined human spirit and the unwavering loyalty of our four-legged companions. Their story serves as an inspiration to all, reminding us that with determination, support, and a loyal companion by our side, we can overcome any obstacle that life throws our way.


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