Dogs giving back - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Dogs giving back

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MADISON (WKOW) -- During the holidays we talk a lot about giving to those in need.

But there are some special animals and their trainers who work every day of the year to help people live better lives.

The Wisconsin Academy for Graduate Service Dogs, otherwise known as WAGS, was established in 1987 in Madison.

Since then, it's been training dogs to help people with physical disabilities. 

We have one of those very special dogs at our offices at WKOW almost every day.

Ocean is a 1 ½ year old Golden Retriever who's been in training to be a service dog since she was 8 weeks old.

Her trainer, Jesi Hartman, is a WKOW employee.

Hartman says all of the WAGS dogs are taught many skills through the process, including tugging open the fridge, nosing the handicap button to open a door, giving credit cards at stores and turning lights on and off.

"Each dog picks up the skills at a different pace, but with patience, practice and good treats, they typically catch on pretty quickly."

Ocean has a little less than 6 months to go in her training before she is placed.

Hartman says, "These dogs help their clients in more ways than I ever thought possible and they really do become a team. It is amazing the transformation they make in 2 years of training and to see them perform the skills needed to help someone makes all the hard work totally worth it."

Click here for more information about WAGS.

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