The Most Rewarding Thing I’ve Ever Done

Raising a GDA puppy

Puppy Raiser, Susan Hoffman, with Graduate, Hesper, and Guide Dog Kiwi

I have to admit that when I first brought home an adorable little puppy named Kiwi, one thought running through my head was that it was going to break my heart to give her up.  And I did cry when I turned her in for formal training, what we often called “guide dog college,” at GDA.  I even cried a little more when Stephanie called to tell me that Kiwi was graduating.

But nothing prepared me for how amazing it would feel when I met the woman who would be taking Kiwi home, and saw Kiwi acting as a guide dog for the first time.  That adorable puppy that I had carried home less than two years earlier was all grown up and helping to keep someone safe as they navigated the world.  I have no idea what kind of magic they perform at GDA that transforms a puppy into a working guide dog, but all I could think about when I saw Kiwi at graduation was how proud I was to have played a role in making that miracle happen.  She was still the puppy that I had raised, but she had met the love of her life, and it was clear that she was doing exactly what she wanted to do.

That little puppy I raised was matched with a wonderful woman who clearly loves her.

I’ve  been incredibly lucky.  That little puppy I raised was matched with a wonderful woman who clearly loves her.  I’ve done many things in my life, but nothing has made me feel as good as seeing the puppy I raised making a real difference in someone’s life.   People ask if I miss Kiwi.  I loved Kiwi with all my heart but I don’t miss her.  She is doing what she was meant to do, and I am incredibly proud of her.  I haven’t shed a single tear about Kiwi since she left GDA.  I just smile every time I think about her walking proudly around town in her harness, doing her part to make life easier for a very special person.

Kiwi is the second dog Susan has raised.  She’s also part of the leadership committee for the Westside Puppy Group.