Humans of BluePath: Anne Garretson, Puppy Raiser

Anne Garretson is an experienced puppy raiser and a valuable member of the BluePath team. In March she opened her heart and her home for seven-month-old Radio, who is her third BluePath puppy and tenth overall. Anne has even been a puppy raiser for her own labradors, Leon, Gayla, and Rumba, who she lives with in Newfield, NY.

How it all started:

When I was a kid I wanted a dog really badly and I wasn’t allowed to have one. I got old enough to have my first apartment. I got my very first puppy, Abbey, but I didn’t know anything about training. Abbey was my very best friend and a special dog until she lived to be almost 16.

I wanted a dog that was social with others and I started learning about different service dog organizations. I raised my first puppy in 2004 and it was a whole new world for me in a number of ways. I got to understand the experience of having a dog, training it, and seeing it go on to do something else. I was so hooked.

Favorite part of puppy raising:

I love seeing the evolution as the dogs learn new things and gain more confidence with their skills. I love watching that whole process; there are those times when you can see subtle changes they make, a light bulb going off for them, and the ways that things change as they get more mature.

In addition, when you’re out doing stuff in public it’s absolutely a concrete time to do training but I love having people ask questions too. It’s really exciting to talk to them while we’re out. The dogs are icebreakers for me as well as they are for the kids that they’ll partner with one day.

Advice for new puppy raisers:

The puppy part of the experience is only a piece of it. The network of people that are involved in puppy raising is really special and so I would tell people to take advantage of that and really dive in because the way that your heart hurts when the dog goes back is temporary. The relationships that are developed are what lasts.

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