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Raising A Puppy

August 28, 2020

Five years ago, Brian and Leslie Schwartz of Barrington, started a journey they had no clue they would still be on today.

The Schwartzes applied to be Foster Puppy Raisers for Paws With A Cause because they thought raising a puppy they could take everywhere with them would be “cool.” Five years and five dogs later, they add, “Little did we know we were joining a whole community. We are totally hooked.”

Paws With A Cause is a nonprofit that custom-trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities. PAWS trains Hearing Dogs, Service Dogs, Seizure Response Dogs, and Service Dogs for Children with Autism, and they rely on volunteers to help with training the puppies for the first 14-18 months.

Volunteers get the puppy when they are eight-weeks old. While they have them, they are teaching them basic obedience and socialization, but most importantly, giving them a loving home.

In 2015, Brian and Leslie brought home their first PAWS puppy, STORM. A spunky black lab who is now a Seizure Response Dog.

“Seeing them [the dog] help someone is amazing!” said Leslie.

They are now raising their fifth puppy, another black lab named CASH. They love taking the puppies they raise on many adventures, including baseball games, airports, the symphony, church, and out to eat. Due to COVID-19, they have not been able to take CASH on as many outings as their other foster puppies but have had a lot of time to work with him at home. PAWS is always looking for volunteers to open their hearts and homes to a foster puppy. For anyone considering raising a future Assistance Dog, Brian says, “It is a different kind of relationship between you and the puppy versus you and a pet dog. Someone needs that puppy more than you love it.” The Schwartz’s commitment to PAWS does not end there. They are also mentors to new raisers and a part of the Community Engagement Committee, volunteering their time to call and thank donors on behalf of the organization. They added, “We are really just people helping people through dogs, and that is pretty amazing.”

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