My partner Shar and I started volunteering for PADS 8 years ago this June. A few days after the volunteer orientation we got a call that they had a puppy for us to raise. We were so excited and hoped to get a sweet, little 8-week-old yellow lab only to arrive and be presented with a large gangly 6 month old pup named Santini. I must admit, we were both slightly disappointed as we had been dreaming about puppy breath. Within a week, we realized we had hit the jackpot as Santini knew almost every command in the manual PADS had provided to us. In puppy class, Santini was a rock star and always made us look amazing.

When Santini was 16 months old, she passed her assessment to become a breeding dog and we started on our journey as breeder caretakers. You know the old adage, “be careful what you wish for”; that couldn’t be more true in our case! Our wish to have a puppy led us to Santini having 5 litters of pups within 4 years, giving us the gift of 32 babies with sweet puppy breath. Of Santini’s 32 puppies, 18 puppies are now Service Dogs. Four of her pups became breeding dogs and many of her grandpups are now breeding dogs all over the world!

Santini isn’t done leaving her mark! Last September, after unofficially working as a therapy dog with me for the past 7 years when she wasn’t having pups, Santini passed her Assistance Dogs International assessment and officially became an Accredited Facility Dog. Santini works with me at school with children who are having a difficult time and is incredible with kids who are experiencing extreme trauma like the loss of a parent or physical/sexual abuse. Santini has intuitively developed her own “bump” command where she will approach a child or adult who is demonstrating an extreme emotional outburst, such as screaming, wailing, or crying and “bump” them 2-3 times and is able to calm them almost instantly. As a Vice-Principal, she is worth her weight in gold, all 60 lbs!

We have subsequently raised many special puppies over the years, however as a student wrote on the wall at school, “Santini is simply magical”. What a difference that gangly 6-month-old pup has made to our lives and to this world!

Help Support Teams Like Lee & Santini

All PADS assistance dogs are provided to clients at no cost. Behind each and every success story is a donor who makes this possible.

Tell us your PADS story

We are still accepting stories for our 30 Stories for 30 Years series. Whether you have volunteered, received a dog as a client or adopter, given of your time, money or heart… you are part of the PADS story!  Tell us how being involved with PADS has impacted you.