Dianna Rottiers and her family have been raising future Assistance Dogs for Paws With A Cause ® since 2000. They are currently raising their 16 th PAWS ® Foster Puppy, RALEIGH, and housing Breeding Stock Dog GURU.
The family’s involvement with PAWS all started after her husband Dave saw a PAWS presentation at work one day, came home and said, "Honey, they need families to raise puppies. I think we should do it!" At first, Dianna couldn't help thinking, Is he nuts?
Well, maybe a little bit. But 16 Foster Puppies later, they are still at it. And it has really become a family project for them. Dianna sometimes wondered if she was doing the right thing, particularly after a conversation with a stranger at the grocery store. One day while she was shopping, a woman approached her and asked her about her dog. Dianna explained that she was training it to be a future Service Dog, and the woman seemed impressed—until she learned that at the end of the year the dog would be turned back in to PAWS.
"And you put your children through that," She asked, suddenly indignant. "You actually let your children fall in love with this puppy only to tell them they have to give it away?"
"But it's not like that at all," Dianna said. "I'm teaching my children the gift of love. If you can love something so much and then give it away to someone you don't even know, then you've learned something really important. I think that’s a GREAT lesson."
As she and the kids were driving away from headquarters after dropping off their most recent successfully raised dog, she remembers "We were bawling," she said. "We always do. It's always very difficult because you really do fall in love with them."
Then, one of her girls said from the back seat, "This is so hard. I hate this."
"I know," said Dianna. "This part is always the most difficult. But you know, there is away to avoid it, to avoid the pain. We could stop raising foster puppies... we don't have to do this."
"What? No!" Her daughter’s mood changed in an instant. "No way, we can't stop! This is our thing. This is what we do. And we are good at this!"
Dianna reflects on that memory. "That's when I realized, okay, this is really a family thing. This isn't just me anymore. We decided to do this as a family."
Foster Raisers can provide their contact information for PAWS to pass on to the client who receives the dog they raised. Dianna and her family were contacted by Ashley, who was paired with their Foster Puppy MAUI. They arranged to meet and the entire family welcomed Ashley and MAUI into their home for a reunion. There were hugs and kisses all around as MAUI remembered the loving family who gave her the foundation to become an Assistance Dog.
The next day, Dianna wrote Ashley an email:
Thank you so much for sharing your story and your happiness with us. You made REAL all that my family and I intend with every puppy we raise. For a year we love, laugh, and labor with a beautiful creature, hoping and praying that in its future is the chance to be partnered and make a difference in someone's life. I saw that for real yesterday with you and Maui, in the true joy and love that you two share. For the first time, I truly experienced what PAWS works so diligently to put together. I am blessed to be a part of it.
PAWS is blessed to have Dianna and her family as valuable PAWS Dog volunteers.