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January 20th 2013

Pendragon service canine Tarlov prepares for new family

KIM DAME Hernando Today correspondent

Published: January 20, 2013

Katherine Lockwitch sat in the office of Pendragon Acres U.S. K-9, a little anxious, on Wednesday afternoon. She and her husband Greg and daughter Melissa had been invited by Michael Giannetti to get reacquainted with a fluffy black bundle of fur: their new 5-week-old pup, Tarlov.

The Lockwitches hadn’t seen the pup in nearly 5 weeks, not since Tarlov was just 3 days old.

To protect his health, Michael and Ruthann Giannetti, who own the widely recognized breeding and training compound in northern Brooksville, keep their prize pups away from visitors until their immune systems are developed.

The Lockwitches were only visiting, however. Tarlov won’t be turned over for another 3 weeks. Pendragon Acres will formally present Tarlov to Katherine on Feb. 8, during the Fourth MMA Showcase event at the Tilted Kilt in Clearwater.

It’s fitting, said Michael Giannetti, since his company has affiliated with the Florida Combat Network and CBS Radio to help raise the funds needed to train Tarlov as an assisted service canine.

“This is what we do,” Giannetti said. “We help give people a better quality of life.”

Katherine Lockwitch lost her canine, Baron, in November to a hit and run accident in their Ridge Manor neighborhood. Katherine suffers from multiple disorders, including Tarlov disease, which affects her ability to get around without assistance. Baron had been Katherine’s assisted service canine and the family’s best friend.

The tragic story unfolded when a careless driver hit her 3-year-old German shepherd and sped away. He is still at large.

“I had just returned from a trip to Texas where I had surgery on my leg,” Katherine said. Baron’s death not only broke the family’s hearts, it made mobility nearly impossible for Katherine.

Michael Giannetti heard Katherine’s story, contacted her and offered his help. He gave Katherine the pick of the litter of three pups, born on Dec. 12. She chose the only male and named him Tarlov in an effort to bring awareness to the rare disorder.

Giannetti also offered to fund the $35,000 price tag for assisted service training, which will begin when the pup is around 12 weeks old.

Through national recognition, Pendragon Acres U.S. K-9 chooses families in need. They donated a pup to a local father of five, three of whom suffer from cerebral palsy. Through sponsorships, Michael Orange received two canines, which are currently being trained to assist his three disabled children.

Katherine Lockwitch is the newest recipient of Pendragon’s efforts. Giannetti hopes the Florida Combat Challenge IV, Path to Victory, will raise the money needed for Tarlov’s training. The event will be nationally televised and live streamed.

Pendragon Acres U.S. K-9 is known for its quality German shepherds and state-of-the-art training.

When handed Tarlov, Katherine Lockwitch’s eyes filled with tears. Planting several kisses on the pup’s fuzzy face, she then looked up and directed her comments at Michael Giannetti. “Do you know how much I appreciate this?” she asked.

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