Everyday Hero: Trainer gives K-9, hope and new life

Last Updated: Monday, June 17, 2013, 9:15 AM EDT

When Katherine Lockwitch of Brooksville learned her companion dog, Baron, died, she thought life would never be the same.

A hit-and-run driver killed the animal and, at the same time, nearly broke her and her husband Greg's heart.

Katherine suffers from Tarlov disease, which gives her extreme pain and affects her ability to walk. Baron saw her through many rough times, and she knew she eventually had to replace him.

Enter Michael Giannetti.

The owner and operator of Pen Dragon Acres U.S. K-9 in Weeki Wachee heard what happened to Baron.

"I talked to Greg and talked to Katherine and I thought they were worthy candidates to have a dog donated to their cause," Giannetti said. "We became friends, so they are never going to have to worry about another K-9 in their life."

Giannetti gave Katherine and Greg a new dog, born in December. He also included hours of training, which equals about $35,000.

The new dog's name is Tarlov.

"Financially, it would have been absolutely impossible for us to have replaced a service dog," Katherine said. "Emotionally, the gift Michael has given us is just unbelievable."

Giannetti's dogs are usually trained to provide protection. However, he frequently donates them and their time to help people with autism, Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"You know I never expected any of this," Giannetti said. "The honor of being on television for this exceeded my expectations. To see the joy in their faces makes this all worthwhile."