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Woman who lost service dog begins training new companion

By Paula Vargas, Reporter, paula.vargas@krdo.com
Published On: Sep 18 2013 12:24:31 PM CDT

A new chapter begins for the disabled veteran who lost her service dog, Tyler, last month. Karen Sagahon’s new golden retriever begins to train to become her new service dog.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

A new chapter begins for the disabled veteran who lost her service dog, Tyler, last month.

Nearly three weeks ago, Karen Sagahon received a new puppy named Levi. 

“Levi is a piece of heaven and he has been a blessing to me,” says Sagahon of her golden retriever. “He (Levi) brought joy into my life and as you can see we are quite a pair already”

Today, Levi begins the transition from a puppy to a service dog.

“I’m looking forward to the journey we are going to take together,” said Sagahon about Levi becoming her new service dog.” 

American Service Dogs specializes in training dogs for specific services to individuals such as Sagahon who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.  The organization has committed to training Tyler three days per week for one year.

The transition from a puppy to a service dog comes with challenges.

“The biggest thing for a service dog to learn is the basic obedience,” says Stephen, Senior Master Trainer with American Service Dogs. Those basic obedience commands are sit, down, stay, come and heel.

Through those five commands, Stephen says, a service dog can be trained specifically for a patient’s needs.

The second phase in Levi’s training will be teaching him the difference between being a service dog and a pet.

“When he is a service dog, his (Levi’s) primary function will be to service Karen,” says Stephen.

Training for Levi and Karen will be a year-long transition for the two of them.

“We have a lot to learn together.” says Sagahon.

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