Humans of BluePath: Donna Kust, Puppy Raiser

Donna Kust and her husband, Michael have been raising service dog puppies for almost 20 years. She has her own special way of incorporating fun socialization experiences, training, and love into the lives of her pups. Donna runs a daycare in her Chesapeake, Virginia home for children under four years old, a perfect place for puppies to gain early exposure to young children and all the excitement and stimulation that come from a daycare setting.

When describing a typical day in the life of the puppies she raises, Donna says:

“I just incorporate the dog into my daily schedule activities. The kids learn to do hand signals and commands with the dogs; I even had a two-year-old who was able to walk the dog on a leash in my front yard by herself.” 

Donna is currently co-raising Otto. Her first BluePath pup, Rex, was paired with eight-year-old Gabriel this past March. Donna has many fond memories of Rex.

“Rex was very easy to train and eager to learn. He loved the kids and the kids loved him. He absolutely loved being right in the middle of it all. Rex was always right by my side whenever I was tending to and comforting the little ones. I started to notice when I took Rex out training or shopping that his ears would always perk up whenever he heard children around. If he heard one fussing or crying he would tune right in on their cry and try to get me to take him in that direction. I would have to redirect him and say, ‘Don’t worry, Rex. One day you’ll have a little boy or little girl of your very own to take care of’.”

Fun Facts

  • Donna has two children and is looking forward to her very first grandson being born in November

  • A few of Donna’s favorite hobbies include hanging out on the beach, crocheting, counted cross stitching, and spending time with family and friends

  • In her free time, she meets with her yarn group weekly at the public library and also at church

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