Kristin & Boogie

Raising Hope and Unleashing Independence

At Freedom Service Dogs, our volunteer puppy raisers are at the heart of everything we do. Over the course of 10 to 12 months, they provide our pups with an abundance of love and guidance, helping to set them up on the right paw as they embark on the journey to become a service dog for one of the many clients on our waiting list. Kristin, an FSD client and dedicated volunteer, understands firsthand the importance and joys of puppy raising.

In December of 2017, Kristin was on a routine jog with her golden retriever when they were both struck by a car at a busy intersection. In that split moment, everything had changed. Along with sustaining multiple broken bones, Kristin was diagnosed with a diffuse axonal brain injury, which occurs when the brain is severely shaken or twisted in the skull. After awakening from a two-week coma, Kristin began the long journey of rehabilitation, including relearning how to walk.  Additionally, due to the numerous blockages to her frontal lobe, she began to struggle with anxiety, emotional difficulties, exhaustion, and limited short-term memory. She was also grappling with the loss of her beloved dog, who unfortunately didn’t survive the accident.

During her recovery at Craig Hospital in Denver, Kristin and her husband became acquainted with the hospital’s therapy dogs and decided to pursue getting Kristin her very own service dog to assist her on a daily basis. While Kristin waited to be matched with her new furry companion, she and her family decided to become volunteer puppy raisers for FSD to get a glimpse into what life with a service dog would look like. Paired with “puppy with a purpose” Pele, Kristin and her husband began to gain more confidence in their handling skills and discovered all the amazing ways service dogs can learn to assist their human partners.

In summer of 2023, Kristin finally found her perfect match in FSD service dog Boogie. Trained to push accessibility buttons, open doors, close cabinets, accompany Kristin on Uber rides and walks, pick up dropped items, and find Kristin’s husband if she needs help, Boogie quickly proved that she was much more than just Kristin’s service dog—she was a true friend. With Boogie by her side, Kristin discovered a renewed sense of hope, freedom, and security. She shares, “I don’t know if people fully recognize how much these dogs change our lives. I met another client during my placement class that couldn’t even introduce himself at first. And on that last day of class, after he had his service dog for two weeks, he was a completely different person. He even set up a group chat with the other people in our class so that we could continue sharing and learning with each other. He did a total 180. Clients like him and I are impacted by all the people involved in training the dogs, including the puppy raisers.”

Not long after taking Boogie home, Kristin received some exciting news. Pele, the first puppy she and her family raised, had been partnered with two children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Kristin reflects, “We know that we’re doing something that someone else did for me, and it’s huge. Pele is going to change their lives, and we had a part in that. It makes us feel good knowing we’re making a difference.”

Kristin’s family has since raised two other FSD puppies, including their current service dog in training, Alanis. They’ve found that Boogie and the family dog have been wonderful “mentors” to all the service dog hopefuls they’ve raised as well. “I’m not sure if everyone realizes the constant support you get from FSD as a puppy raiser. They follow up and make raising easy. It costs nothing but your love,” Kristin emphasized.

The endless benefits of volunteering for FSD keep Kristin and her family raising again and again- benefits such as being provided with supplies, specialized training, ongoing guidance, support from the FSD community, and the cutest puppies of all time. Shared Kristin, “We’re giving back to FSD, but we’re also getting so much in return. We know our puppies are going to change someone’s life because Boogie has changed ours. We love raising, and we don’t plan on stopping.”

Read Craig Hospital’s blog about Kristin’s journey to regaining independence with Boogie:

To learn more about becoming a life-changing volunteer puppy raiser, contact Anna Pardikes at [email protected] or 303-922-6231 x227.

To learn more about applying for a Freedom Service Dog, click HERE.

Contact Erin Conley at for all media inquiries.