For years, I thought I was a “hard ass” living an intense life: I went from collegiate soccer to four years active duty in the Army, then a 14-month deployment to Iraq War before ending up in a Wall Street sales and trading life.
Eventually, the high stress of those environments caught up with me—through anxiety, horrible migraines, and depression. I was ultimately diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
But it was during summer 2015 when I met an angel who, along with my husband, helped me survive the most painful year of my life. Waffles, a 13-pound ball of fluffy puppy happiness, was there every moment to help me get through significant suffering and sadness. She comforted me when I needed it most, and never failed to put a smile on my face. Her love is contagious — she spreads laughter and happiness to anyone she meets. To this day, she continues to remind me daily to embrace life and search for love and joy.
Throughout the first year raising Waffles, I discovered that I wasn’t alone in the love that I felt for her. There were other women who were as passionate about their dogs as I was, who wanted to include their dogs in their daily lives. I also learned that canine therapy is very helpful for many illnesses , not just PTSD.
Knowing how much canine therapy helped myself and others inspired me to create a community of women. The goal would be to provide positivity and advocate for others whose lives have been changed by their dogs. From women dealing with heavily stigmatized illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, to women who have found simple joy in their pup, I wanted to empower women to live their best lives and advocate for canine therapy for those in need.
Today social media can be so negative, even destructive — but it doesn’t have to be. This medium can be used to spread joy and build positive interactions with other people. And that’s why I love the Puppy Mama community; our members spread joy and acceptance to one another, and the way they interact with one another is absolutely beautiful.
To date, over a thousand women have submitted healing and inspirational stories to Puppy Mama. I read every one of them. In time, I felt like a lightning rod for the immense joy and happiness from this community of dog parents who shared what their dogs bring to their lives; that I had to “bottle it up” and put it on paper to share with the world. This feeling is ultimately what inspired me to begin writing Raising a Doodle.
We also learned so much from all of these stories, including that each breed has a unique story to share. Raising a Doodle focuses on poodle-mix breeds, and how they are taking Instagram by storm and bringing joy and laughter to families and communities around the world.
Raising a Doodle
With the help of my Wellesley College classmate Audrey Courchesne, we worked hard to churn hundreds of story and photo submissions into a visual story-telling coffee table book that brings readers simple joy.
The book is also an educational “how-to guide” to raise a happy and healthy dog. I’ve learned throughout the years that there is a significant need to enhance dog health and wellness. Therefore, Raising a Doodle is filled with helpful information and practical socialization, training, veterinary, financial planning, and grooming tips to help set both dogs and their families up for success.
I hope that through education, more dogs will remain in happy homes—this in itself will have tremendous impact, since rehomed dogs are at risk for poor treatment and euthanasia in many cities in the United States. (According to the ASPCA 670,000 dogs are euthanized in the United States every year, and 47% of rehomed dogs are caused by “pet problems,” defined by problematic behaviors, aggressive behaviors, that grew larger than expected, or health problems owner couldn’t handle. Source)
Whether or not you have a doodle in your life, I hope that this book brings you and your family happiness and joy.
– Theresa Piasta
As an Iraq War Veteran, Theresa is also passionate about helping military veterans. 5% of the net proceeds from this book will go to service dog organizations that support veterans with the companionship, love, and independence that a service dog delivers.
About Theresa Piasta
Before founding Puppy Mama, Theresa Piasta was a Vice President at J.P. Morgan—spending six total years in the Investment Bank and Sales & Trading businesses at two Wall Street banks. Prior to that she served as an Army Captain in a Field Artillery Brigade. During her fourteen-month Iraq deployment in 2008, Theresa led a large team to defend thousands of soldiers and contractors residing on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Delta near the Iranian border. She was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for her service.
Theresa attended the Stanford GSB Ignite program in 2016 and received a B.A. in economics from Wellesley College in 2006. Theresa and her six siblings grew up in Sonoma County, California. Today she lives in San Francisco, CA, with her husband, son, and cavapoo, Waffles.