by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Samantha Gleaton Photography

Raising Puppies with a Purpose

student_burkman1Carlsbad High School students Sarah and Hannah Burkman are sisters with big hearts and an important purpose. They recently raised their puppy Dayton to become a companion dog through the Oceanside-based Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). “I had been asking for a dog for several years when my parents suggested that we get a dog with a purpose. About the same time, we met a woman at swim team who was raising a puppy for CCI,” explained Hannah. “Our older brother raised a dog for Guide Dogs for the Blind and we thought it was such a cool thing to be a part of, a great way to help someone else to have a better life,” added Sarah. Prior to welcoming Dayton into their home, the sisters read puppy training manuals, watched videos, attended classes, and met with people who had raised companion dogs.

“Dayton went with us nearly everywhere. We spent time every day training, walking, grooming, and socializing him,” stated Sarah.

student_burkman2Once Dayton arrived, the girls were constantly busy teaching him commands, socializing him, and working with him on various training exercises. “Dayton went with us nearly everywhere. We spent time every day training, walking, grooming, and socializing him,” stated Sarah. And according to Hannah, their outings with Dayton served a very important purpose. “We had to be extremely patient with him and help him get used to people and noises,” said Hannah.

After 18 months, it was time for Dayton to be matched with his human companion. Sarah and Hannah were sad to see Dayton go, but extremely excited for all the good he will do in his companion’s life. “It’s definitely an emotional experience. We always knew we were raising someone else’s dog, but nothing can really prepare you to actually see him helping his human companion,” revealed Hannah. Sarah added, “It’s amazing to think that his time with us was short compared to the years he will spend with his new companion.”

student_burkman3In addition to their passion for dogs and helping others, Sarah and Hannah are very active at Carlsbad High and in the community. They both participate in many community service projects with their family and church group, including building homes and medical clinics in underdeveloped countries, local coastal clean-ups, and donating to food banks and homeless shelters. Sarah, a senior, also enjoys being out on the ocean, and taking and editing photographs. Hannah, a sophomore, loves the outdoors and can often be found running, hiking, or rock climbing.


Names: Hannah (15) & Sarah Burkman (18)
Schools: Carlsbad High School
Grades: Hannah – 10; Sarah – 12
Siblings: Ben (23) and Spencer (24)
Favorite Places in Carlsbad: The beach, the Village, the Forum