dianeI’ve been an animal lover my whole life and have owned by many wonderful cats. For years I followed the “Lost Dogs MN” Facebook page and prayed, crossed paws, and kept my eyes open. That was the extent of my involvement with lost dogs.

When Lilyanna Paddle, a sweet Australian Labradoodle, went missing in St. Paul’s West Seventh neighborhood in February 2015, I happened to overhear the dog owner’s distraught announcement to his friend. I felt devastated for him and started grilling him. Where was he when she went missing? What direction was she headed? Was she wearing a collar? Was she chipped? It was so cold that time of year. The poor dog! When I checked Lost Dogs MN, I saw that Dena Thorson was heading up an effort to find the dog and had created a Facebook for her. I didn’t know anything about searching for a lost dog.

My inclination was to drive through the nearby neighborhoods to see if I could see her trotting down the street. Dena explained that, while it might be tempting to do just that, it is much more productive to create awareness by putting up signs, alerting businesses, etc. The next day I started putting up signs and posters. When Lily was found two weeks later, I was over the moon.

Devon Thomas Treadwell, one of the Retrievers founders, noticed all of my sign-making activity and asked me if I wanted to be a ground support coordinator. Sure!  Helping to create awareness for lost dogs is very rewarding. As a ground support coordinator, I perform other boots-on/the-ground activities such as organizing volunteers, posting flyers, and stocking feeding stations. Lately I’ve also been acting as case manager. With both positions there is a strong bond that we have with the clients. We provide our expertise and emotional support. I  feel honored to be a member of this amazing team of this dedicated, selfless group of people.


Like many others in this group, I also grew up with family dogs. The kind of growing up where they sleep with you in bed or you fall asleep in theirs, and where your parents call every sibling and dog name in the family before saying “Ugh, whatever your name is.”

I grew up in Watertown, SD. Population 25,000. Our dogs stayed in the yard, we walked the countryside without leashes, we knew dogs by name for miles. But we always knew somebody who knew somebody that had a litter of hunting pups. Not until I brought home a dog of my own did I realize the differences in breeds and personalities. I was 22 at the time and it was basically my job to give my parents a run for their money. So I brought home beagles—following their noses, baying without even looking up beagles. The “I do what I want” breed.

I moved to Minnesota in 2008, bought a house with a privacy fence and was offering to watch everyone’s dogs in a 30-mile radius! I was just stumbling into dogs on the loose and was the girl holding up traffic to corral them into my truck. Shortly afterward, I picked up a book titled The Dogs Who Found Me. I won’t spoil it, but I highly recommend it.

I decided last year that I was going to try fostering in 2016 because I wanted to do something to help. So many people my age are more concerned about the Friday party, and there’s so many causes we could be helping. Private school loans don’t allow for much pocket change but I have time to give. I had ten fosters in the first six months and have mastered making it to the car before crying. But happy tears because 2 weeks prior these dogs were scared and shut down. The families are so amazing and the dogs walk right up to their families like they hadn’t just been through hell the month prior. Bringing in these animals that have every right not to trust us and seeing how much they just want to be loved is so worth the time. Training them, cuddling them, and helping their personalities evolve—there’s really nothing better. And Minnesota is so amazing for the amount of adoptions each year. Happy to inform you I am typing this on the couch with five dogs sleeping close enough their snores overpower the TV. And one-handed, I’ll have you know, because my beagle foster paws me if I’m not petting him.

Coming into this year I prayed to find my niche and my people, and I’m so so thankful to have been asked to join this group of Retrievers. The time and support this group provides to each other and each dog lover alike is so heartwarming and inspiring. My journey with this group has just begun, but I know they as well as the families I’ve helped so far are friends for life. I’ve found my people, and fur babies!


My father was a rescuer of dogs—big ones, little ones, and in-between ones—so the rescue bug was implanted early in my life!

Lynn, my wife, and I have six rescues—three dogs, three cats—and yep, we are outnumbered.

Since retiring, I volunteer a lot. One of the places is Northwoods Humane Society, and that is where my intro to the Retrievers happened. While that case went cold, an adopted dog went missing. Enter Natalie! The dog walked right into a trap and was retrieved on first day of Retriever involvement. Needless to say, Lynn and I were hooked. Lynn joined up as a GSC, and I helped as a volunteer.

The first case I helped with was Stellah the Newfie mix. I still resisted joining the team, but helped with signs, etc.

Second case? Lucy and her puppies. I was caving fast, but still resisting.

Third case? Warrior. He gave me his paw, licked my face and rested his head on me.

That did it, I’m all in now!

So now there’s another spouse team on the Retrievers.


krisI grew up with a miniature poodle who loved my mom the most.  I was never really a ‘dog person’ so didn’t mind much.

Our neighbor got their first family puppy and we saw how much fun the kids had and we wanted that for our family. My husband, two kids, and I welcomed Willy into our lives 5 years ago.  He was 16 weeks old and was a great teacher. I didn’t know anything about raising a dog but learned pretty quick.  We have been fostering for 3.5 years and have saved 25 dogs, so far.  We are a busy family with lots of sports but can always make the time to foster. Be that someone, right?

About two years ago, there was a lost dog that was very well publicized and I was caught up in the story. Annabelle. I volunteered with a fabulous, dedicated Retriever, Maren, in making signs, passing out flyers, tracking and searching for her.

Then in my town, I saw a request for volunteers to help in a search and making/placing signs for a little lost dog. That is where I met the fabulous Lynn and Toni. From then on out I continued to help.

After searching for a few more dogs in the surrounding area, I was asked to join and be a Retriever. What a fabulous family this is.  Supportive, encouraging, and packed with experience. I feel honored to be accepted into this dedicated, volunteer organization.