Humans of BluePath: Kathleen Hayward, Puppy Raiser

Kathleen and her husband, Stephen, with Duke.

Kathleen and her husband, Stephen, with Duke.

How it All Began: I loved dogs and I loved the idea of raising a dog for someone else. I have a good friend whose daughter is on the spectrum. When she was little, she loved watching my dog’s tail wag back and forth. It was then, in 1998, that I first recognized the deep connection between animals and humans.

Favorite Part of Volunteering for BluePath: You really gain an extended family when you become a puppy raiser. There’s such a wonderful sense of community. It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of something that is making a difference, and it’s amazing to be doing it as a team.

Favorite Part of Puppy Raising: It’s such a joy to raise a puppy. The puppy I’m raising has left of piece of him with me and it’s my hope that, when he leaves, he’ll take a piece of me with him too. There’s just such a wholeness to puppy raising that is so fulfilling and exciting.

Words of Wisdom for Prospective Puppy Raisers: It's a lot like having a two year old – the advantage is that you can put your dog in a crate!

Lots of people tell me that they would love to raise a puppy but could never give them up. My response is that it’s the same as sending your kids off to college: you raise them with the idea that they’re going to grow up and have a life away from you. It’s hard work, and you can be both excited and sad about giving up your dog, but it’s so worth it. I love it.

Fast Facts:

About Kathleen:

  • Where She Lives: Brooksville, Maine
  • Dream Vacation Spot: Rome or the Grand Canyon
  • Favorite Hobbies: Gardening, sewing, quilting

About Duke:

  • Newest Skill: Venturing up and down the stairs  
  • Quirkiest Trait: You can tell how hard a task is by counting the wrinkles on his nose
  • Cutest Quality: Adorable neck rolls that never disappeared after puppyhood
BluePath Duke learns how to play dominoes with Kathleen's granddaughter (and BluePath's newest puppy-raiser-in-training!).

BluePath Duke learns how to play dominoes with Kathleen's granddaughter (and BluePath's newest puppy-raiser-in-training!).