When Sherry invited Can Do Canines to speak to her undergraduate class eight years ago, she never anticipated it was going to result in a volunteer opportunity that filled her with joy, love, and purpose. But that’s exactly what happened.
A retired veterinarian, Sherry Fonseth-Lais was teaching an animal behavior class at the University of Minnesota in 2010 when she asked Can Do Canines to speak to her class about assistance dogs. Sherry recalls, “Julianne Larsen brought an amazing dog and a human assistant, and they talked about positive training methods and gave a fascinating demonstration, complete with light switches and door buttons and retrieval items. They also talked about the new prison program that they started in Sandstone and shared how so many lives are changed and bettered through these dogs. I was hooked instantly, but work consumed most of my time. In 2015, I dove in with all my heart, soul and body and became a Puppy Raiser.”
To date, Sherry has been a Great Start Home for one lucky puppy, has helped as a Short-Term Foster countless times, and is currently Puppy Raising her second dog. She is also a Breeder Host for an almost-three-year-old Black Labrador Retriever Saffron, and has whelped both of her litters.
In addition to volunteering with the Puppy Program, Sherry has shared many of her other talents with Can Do Canines. “My veterinary license came in handy for giving rabies vaccines and helping out with some care plans and diagnostics,” she says. Sherry has also helped with events like the Tails of Independence Breakfast and Luncheon, Can Do Woofaroo, and graduation.
When asked about a favorite memory from her time volunteering, Sherry couldn’t commit to just one. “I have to say that there is a three-way tie for that spot in my heart. The graduation of my first pup, Zelda, as she matched with her fur-ever person, Michael, was one of the proudest moments ever! It brought everything full circle as to why we do this. The other favorites are the whelping situations with Saffron. She had a litter of eight the first time around, and is now nursing a second litter of four. These were two totally different experiences. My husband and I were thrilled to be a part of those miracles, and we look forward to watching what those pups become,” Sherry says.
We are lucky to have someone like Sherry on our team. And we’re happy that she feels lucky as well. She says, “I did not expect to make the kind of friendships that this village has provided. The mission fills each volunteer with magical connections through these dogs, and the foibles and successes we share make us cry and laugh. But we always buoy each other up.”
Thank you, Sherry, for all you have done to help deliver freedom, independence, and peace of mind to people living with disabilities.