Raising a Doodle: Heartwarming Stories from Dog Parents Around the World


Theresa Piasta is a former Army Captain in a Field Artillery brigade. During her fourteen-month Iraq deployment from 2008-2009, Theresa led a large team defending thousands of soldiers and contractors residing on the Iranian border, where she was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for her service.

After leaving the military, Theresa immediately transitioned to a Wall Street sales and trading job (and in time became a vice president at J.P. Morgan), in the aftermath of the financial crisis, which compounded the stress she had already experienced from her time in the Army. She struggled with severe abdominal pain, relentless and debilitating migraines, physiological issues, depression, anger, all while trying to find a new purpose for her life (she was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD). Theresa then turned her attention to her health, which included a new puppy named Waffles, whom she calls “a 13-pound ball of fluffy puppy happiness.” Having Waffles in her life inspired Theresa to take on a project that has grown into a tech start-up and lifestyle brand, Puppy Mama, a platform leveraging technology to deliver community and convenience to dog moms around the world so that they may live a more connected and joyful dog-friendly lifestyle. 

Since Theresa shared her story, over a thousand women have submitted their own stories to Puppy Mama about how their dogs are healing them and bringing joy to their lives, ultimately creating the foundation for a book series. The numerous heartwarming story submissions of poodle-mix breeds inspired Puppy Mama’s first book, Raising a Doodle, which Theresa wrote with her Wellesley College classmate Audrey Courchesne. Audrey has been writing for as long as she can remember, building a career in publishing, marketing, and communications after receiving an English degree from Wellesley. She shares Theresa’s passion for supporting women and creating community and has loved connecting with doodle moms from around the world to help tell their stories.

Theresa’s latest passion project – Pups for Veterans:

As an Iraq War veteran, Theresa discovered the power of canine therapy which was an inspiration for Puppy Mama. Her concept to serve this community is a philanthropic program, ‘Pups for Veterans,’ which brings awareness to the female veteran health crisis, and recommends scaling canine therapy from trained service dogs as a proven impactful solution. (According to NPR, “The suicide rate for female veterans has soared 85% in recent years.”)


Doodles, crossbreeds that are part poodle, are incredibly popular. The tag #doodlesofinstagram has over 4 million posts. One specific breed alone, #goldendoodle has 5.3 million pictures of these living teddy bears.

According to Dr. Stanley Coren, an expert in canine psychology, poodles are one of the smartest dog breeds, second only to border collies. They also shed less and are known for being a better breed option for people with allergies. From Aussiedoodles to Whoodles, there are more than 75 different breed combinations.

Many women find few things more rewarding than nurturing an unbreakable bond with a fluffy companion. In Raising a Doodle, readers find dog expert interviews from specialists in canine therapy, grooming, veterinary, and training fields, along with practical tips, tricks, how-tos, and advice. But most important are the 100+ stories (and adorable full color photos) of entertaining and heartwarming examples of how real women’s dogs have changed their lives for the better– through serious physical and mental illness and real hairy heroism. 

As an Iraq War Veteran, Theresa is also passionate about helping military veterans. 5% of the net proceeds from this book will be donated to help Canine Companions train service dogs for veterans with PTSD.  


  • The overwhelming need of female veterans to be connected with canine therapy and why Pups for Veterans is crucial; how others can get involved
  • The healing power of canine therapy: improving the mental and physical health and overall well-being in life-altering ways
  • The book inspires the dog-friendly lifestyle that dog moms want
  • The most shocking or heartwarming stories in Theresa’s book and community
  • Tips on photographing your pup and why Instagram is filled with women with their pups
  • Advice for exploring the world with your doodle
  • Navigating the holidays with your doodle: tips for boarding, traveling, meeting new family


  • August 26 International Dog Day
  • September is Service Dog Month
  • September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month
  • October is National Animal Safety and Protection Month
  • October is National Pet Wellness Month
  • October 1-6 National Walk Your Dog Day
  • October 21 National Pets for Veterans Day
  • Dress up your doodle for Halloween
  • November 11 Veterans Day

Raising a Doodle also shares practical tips and tools about:

  • How to survive crate and potty training
  • Stages of doodle development
  • Speaking your pup’s language: How do I know what my puppy is trying to tell me?
  • Is your pup socialized and well-behaved enough to bring him/her out and about?
  • How to raise a companion who is ready to be at your side, both inside and outside of your home
  • Advice to keep your dog happy and healthy
  • Socialization and training tips for older dogs