Humans of BluePath: Cindi Casterlin, Puppy Raiser


How It All Began: I was raising guide dog puppies when I learned about Caroline Sandler’s work with children with autism.  The stories were just amazing. I have a relative with autism and it touched my heart. I was thrilled when the opportunity came along for me to raise Blue.

Favorite Part of Volunteering for BluePath:  Being part of an adventure and the anticipation of wanting to know how the adventure ends up. When I’m working with these dogs, I’m thinking about where they’re going to land. I think we all love having something to look forward to. Blue has a tender spirit and I see it in action all the time. It never gets old and it never gets boring!


Favorite Part of Puppy Raising:  Words of Wisdom for Prospective Raisers: Look on the website, but also speak with people who have raised puppies in the past to give you a better, more realistic perspective of everything that goes into raising a dog. It’s a long-term commitment and it’s worth it, but it isn’t for everyone.

About Cindi

  • Where She Lives: Port Crane, NY.

  • Dream Vacation Spot: I would love to take an African Safari.  

  • Favorite Hobbies: I’m obsessed with dogs. I also do some puppy sitting on the side. I end up staying very busy. We have a large fenced in backyard and the dogs are really happy here- we get repeat business all the time! I also like to walk, bike, read, and explore.

  • Favorite Food: That’s a tough choice… I’m an Italian-food girl, so homemade pasta. My husband Gary is a great cook and his chicken piccata is wonderful. We both love to cook and I love to bake too.

 About Blue:

  • Most likely to… Bring smiles wherever she goes.

  • Newest Skill: We are still working on not being dog-distracted. We work on people greetings as well and she improves all the time. She loves to learn and work.

  • “Siblings:” I have a yellow Lab pet dog named Nadine and the girls have a big-sister-little-sister relationship. Nadine lets Blue know when she’s available to play and when she’s not. Nadine’s bed is right next to Blue’s kennel. Often during the day, if we put Blue in her kennel, Nadine heads right to her bed alongside her.

Produced by Audrey Buono


BluePath receives $10,000 grant from The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation

In 1936, the late Thomas Carvel founded the soft serve ice cream brand, Carvel. Fueling a desire to make a positive difference in the world, Thomas and his wife, Agnes, created The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation in 1976. The Foundation devotes its resources to a variety of projects and programs, including ones that benefit children and individuals with disabilities.

BluePath received a 2019 grant of $10,000, bringing The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation’s lifetime support of our mission to $30,000. The Foundation’s transformative funding is helping us profoundly improve the lives of children with autism and their families.

BluePath Suzie

BluePath Suzie

Humans of BluePath: Mary Carlin, Foster

How it All Began: We found an article in The Poughkeepsie Journal promoting BluePath’s mission and realized that fostering a dog would be the perfect way to help out another family. It would also serve a double purpose in allowing my niece Brianna to gain a better understanding of responsibility and what it means to make a difference within our community.

Favorite Part of Volunteering for BluePath: The best part about joining the BluePath team is knowing that we can help a child with autism get the companion he or she needs to be safe as well as help grant their parents some peace of mind with regard to their child’s well-being.

Favorite Part of Being a Foster: Knowing that we’re making a difference in the lives of others’ while being able to model that behavior for Brianna has been a really great experience.

Advice for Prospective Fosters: The advice I would give to prospective fosters would be to make sure you are willing to love and take care of the dog as if it were your own so that they can be successful throughout the training process and with their future family.

Fast Facts:

About Mary:

  • Where She Lives: Wappingers Falls, NY

  • Dream Vacation Spot: Ireland

  • Favorite Food: Chicken parmigiana

About Chester:

  • Puppy Dog Eyes: Chester loves attention and will place his head on your lap while giving you puppy dog eyes to get what he wants – more petting!

  • Brotherly Love: Chester loves to play with the Carlins’ pug, Henry, but Henry often can’t keep up and usually opts to take a nap instead!

  • Three Words to Describe Him: Loving, adventurous, and sweet

The Carlin family with Chester, who graduated as an autism service dog last week

The Carlin family with Chester, who graduated as an autism service dog last week

September 2019 Graduation

Congratulations to the third graduating class of BluePath Service Dogs!

We truly have the greatest partners on the planet. To Guide Dog Foundation and Southeastern Guide Dogs - thank you for letting your extraordinary dogs find their purpose in our program.

To the puppy raisers of Chelsea, Chester, Clancy and Tricia - it is because of your hard work and dedication that these dogs have fulfilled their destinies as service dogs. We can never thank you enough.

To our fosters, thank you for providing loving homes for these special dogs as they made their way through training.

To all who make generous investments of time and resources - we remain profoundly grateful for all that you do.

Special thanks to our gracious hosts at The Ethan Allen Hotel.

See adorable puppy photos in our graduation slideshow, produced by Cathy Capasso. Check out our Facebook photo album, too!

CHEERS to four more BluePath dogs making the world a better place!

BluePath Chelsea   Graduated with the Collins family  Raised by Sue and Rebecca Reznak  Fostered by Jim Brown and Marianne Devine  Provided by Southeastern Guide Dogs

BluePath Chelsea

Graduated with the Collins family

Raised by Sue and Rebecca Reznak

Fostered by Jim Brown and Marianne Devine

Provided by Southeastern Guide Dogs

BluePath Chester   Graduated with the Flaherty family  Raised by Judy Wiles  Fostered by the Carlin family  Provided by Southeastern Guide Dogs

BluePath Chester

Graduated with the Flaherty family

Raised by Judy Wiles

Fostered by the Carlin family

Provided by Southeastern Guide Dogs

BluePath Clancy   Graduated with the Millman Family  Raised by Garrett Niedlinger, Lauren Cook and Luke Anderson  Fostered by the Sato family  Provided by Guide Dog Foundation

BluePath Clancy

Graduated with the Millman Family

Raised by Garrett Niedlinger, Lauren Cook and Luke Anderson

Fostered by the Sato family

Provided by Guide Dog Foundation

BluePath Tricia   Graduated with the Galatan family  Raised by Carolyn Anders  Fostered by the Armstrong family  Provided by Guide Dog Foundation

BluePath Tricia

Graduated with the Galatan family

Raised by Carolyn Anders

Fostered by the Armstrong family

Provided by Guide Dog Foundation

Humans of BluePath: Pat & Rylee Wisker

IMG_8321 2.JPG

Pat and Rylee are an incredible father / daughter duo.  At just nine years old, Rylee already has a deep passion for philanthropy.  Together, Pat and Rylee volunteer at events and seminars and Rylee is a regular helper in our Formal Training Program.  Pat also leads numerous fundraising initiatives and has brought in thousands of dollars to support BluePath’s mission.  We’re extremely grateful to have these two on our team!

Where They Live: Croton-on-Hudson, NY

How it All Began (Pat): My cousin Chanci had a service dog from the Heeling Autism program. I watched my aunt struggle to keep her safe – until they received Yale.  Then everything in their lives changed for the better.  I met Michelle Brier at a BBQ one day and she told me about BluePath.  I told her that I wanted to get involved and help in any way possible.

Words of Wisdom for Prospective Volunteers (Pat): There are so many different ways you can volunteer. You can commit as much time as you have available and know that your contribution will be a great help to BluePath and its mission. You also get to meet cool people and hang out with puppies all day long- who doesn’t want that? 

Teaching Classes (Pat): I help Michelle teach classes to first responders on working with service dogs in emergencies. We talk about different topics such as the safest practices of how to secure them, what your best options are and how to care for patients with disabilities.  More info on BluePath’s training for first responders.

Fundraising at School (Rylee): Daddy let me bring in some stickers and bookmarks for autism awareness day. My friends wanted to help BluePath but they didn’t know how. Since we are doing something with recycling at school, we decided to go in there and see what we could find. We picked a jug, cleaned it up and colored it. We decorated it with stickers and BluePath logos and began collecting donations!

Fast Facts - Pat:

Favorite Part of Volunteering for BluePath: The ability to go out and spread awareness about autism and BluePath’s mission.

Favorite Food: Mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Dream Vacation Spot: Florida. My fiance’s mother lives down there. It’s beautiful; it’s the perfect place to sit back and relax.

Favorite Hobbies: I’m a volunteer fireman and EMT. I also work full-time at a police department. And of course, I love hanging with my two kids and my fiance!

Fast Facts - Rylee:

Favorite Part of Volunteering for BluePath: My favorite part is spending time with the dogs. It makes me feel really happy.

Favorite Sport:  Horseback riding.

Favorite Food: I have quite a few. But tacos!

Dream Job: I think I’m going to stick with BluePath for as long as I can.


Humans on BluePath: Jill Holtman, Puppy Raiser

Jill and Ali

Jill and Ali

How it All Began : I had the pleasure of meeting a child and his autism service dog five years ago. When I saw the connection they had, and what the dog was trained to do it really left an impression on me. I wanted to do something to help. The child’s mother led me to BluePath. I was a puppy sitter for just over a year when there was an opportunity to raise Ali. The decision to raise her is one of the best decisions that I have ever made!  

Favorite Part of Volunteering for BluePath: The overall community of volunteers is a special one that I love being part of. It’s been interesting to meet new people along the way in various roles… the trainers, the staff, other raisers and fosters, the drivers, the photographers, and the person writing this article too! Everybody has the same end goal of making a difference in the life of a child with autism. It’s awesome!

Favorite Part of Puppy Raising: It is hard to pick one thing as there are many... The way that Ali has changed my life and knowing that same exact thing will happen with her forever family. Ali has connected me with wonderful people I would have never met and taken me to places I probably never would have gone to. She has brought such joy and life into the household. When I think of Ali changing the life of a family as an autism service dog, it’s hard to put into words just how beautiful of a thought that is.

Words of Wisdom for Prospective Raisers: I’m a first time puppy raiser and if you’re interested and think you can’t do it, you should know that you absolutely can. There is a fantastic community of volunteers, other raisers and trainers to support you and your puppy along the way. Yes, it’s a big decision that should be given a lot of thought. There’s a lot to learn and a commitment of your time to a puppy, but a very rewarding one!  The reward from raising a puppy makes the effort worth it.

Fast Facts:

About Jill:

Where She Lives: Upper Dutchess County, NY

Dream Vacation Spot: Italy. My Grandfather is from Italy. The history, the culture… and I would love to see Mt. Stromboli! It looks beautiful. My daughter did a report on it a few years ago and I would love to go there.

Favorite Hobbies : Anything related to nature. Being outdoors, bird-watching, photography, volunteering.

About Ali:

Newest Skill: Heel. She has it mastered!

Unique Talent : She’s often spotted crossing her front paws. She just does it on her own. Usually, it’s the left paw over the right.

Quirkiest Trait: The way she likes to sit and lay on the steps. She will sit on the steps with her back legs on the higher step, and her front paws below her on the lower step. She lays on the steps with her legs sticking out to her left side.


BluePath receives $4,500 grant from H.O.P.E. for Youth Foundation

H.O.P.E. For Youth Foundation is dedicated to facilitating positive change in the lives of children, adolescents and families. The organization provides stable, nurturing, residential care, foster care, preventive and out-patient programs which educate, motivate and empower individuals to become self-sufficient and achieve their full potential.

BluePath is the proud recipient of a $4,500 grant from the H.O.P.E. For Youth Foundation. These funds will help support our Formal Training Program.

We are extremely grateful for the Foundation's continued support of our mission. 

BluePath service dog, Autumn

BluePath service dog, Autumn

Humans of BluePath: Cathy Capasso, Superstar

Cathy and Ranger.

Cathy and Ranger.

How It All Began: My husband and I are involved with BluePath through a group of car and motorcycle enthusiasts we started called “Team Michelangelo.” We got together in 2009 to do a car and bike show to raise money for animals. It was there that we met the founders of BluePath. When I saw what amazing work they did, I wanted to get involved. (Don’t miss this year’s car show, to be held on Sunday, October 13!)

What Does it Mean to be a BluePath Superstar?: I will do anything they need me to do! Whatever it is, I just love helping out in any way that I can. So far, Team Michelangelo has provided sponsorship for three BluePath vans. I remember when we got the first van wrapped with the BluePath and Team Michelangelo logos. I still get chills thinking about it! Every time I see those vans I get giggly.

Favorite Part of Volunteering for BluePath: There’s a professionalism that you don't often see in organizations, let alone nonprofits. It’s rare to find a group of people as good, kind, and intelligent as the ones at BluePath. They’re open to your ideas and are willing to help you every step of the way. Right now, I’m learning how to help work with the dogs; it has been incredible to see what the training process entails.

Advice for Prospective Volunteers: Try it. You can’t fail. If you’re thinking about joining, have a conversation with them. Have a conversation with some of the other volunteers. Ask about their feelings and experiences with BluePath. You’ll never know what you’re missing unless you try.  

Fast Facts:

  • Favorite Way to Relax: Making jewelry or taking pictures, especially pictures of rescue cats (Cathy’s expert advice: Don't be afraid to use your phone to take pictures; the best camera is always the one you have with you!)

  • Favorite Book and Movie: Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz

  • Ideal Celebrity Walkathoner: Rod Stewart or Richard Gere


Disaster Planning for Dogs & Cats

It’s important to plan for how your family - both humans and animals - will safely make it through a disaster situation. When considering housing during an evacuation scenario, be aware that many shelters only allow service animals.

Supplies: These items should ideally be packed and ready to go at all times.

Photo by Melissa Davis

Photo by Melissa Davis

  • Leash, collar with ID

  • Appropriate-sized pet carriers with bedding and toys

  • Food (in airtight waterproof containers) and water for at least two weeks for each pet

  • Food, water bowls, manual can opener if needed

  • Plastic bags for dog waste, litter box and litter for cats

  • Cleaning supplies for accidents (paper towels, plastic bags, disinfectant)

  • Medications for at least two weeks, instructions and treats used to give the medications, pharmacy contact for refills

  • Flea and tick medication and heartworm preventative for 1 month

  • Documents

    • Photocopied veterinary records (rabies certificate, vaccinations, recent FeLV/FIV test results for cats, prescriptions, etc.)

    • Registration and microchip information

    • Recent photos of your pet

    • Contact information for you and friends or relatives

    • Boarding instructions, such as feeding schedule, medications, and any known allergies and behavior problems

  • A pet first aid book and first aid kit

  • Documents, medications, and food should be stored in waterproof containers

New addition to the BluePath Fleet

Our transportation needs have evolved in alignment with our growing program and mission delivery.  We’re proud to introduce the newest addition to the BluePath fleet - our custom-fitted, temperature controlled training van.  Among other special modifications, the generator and AC unit will ensure our dogs are safe and comfortable during training outings.

We are infinitely grateful to Team Michelangelo for their ongoing sponsorship of our vehicles.  Additional thanks to the Hyde & Watson Foundation for their support of the van purchase, to Paul Rubino for his design work, to Dana Van Bourgondien and Melissa Davis for their photography and to Putnam Window Tint for the wrap installation.

Team Michelangelo is a group of car and bike enthusiasts who believe in giving back. In 2009, Team Michelangelo came together to plan an annual fundraising event - a charity car and bike show. All proceeds raised go to help local rescue efforts and charities that work with animals and people.

The Hyde and Watson Foundation supports nonprofits with capital projects such as hard costs related to the construction or purchase of new facilities, capital equipment and furnishings, and other one-time capital needs.