Long Time No Bark!

It has been a very long while since we have had a new blog post so here is a little update on some of the happenings at SDA!  My apologies if it appears choppy, I just have SO much I want to share with you! :)

Volunteer Day

Volunteer Day was beyond successful.  It was so great to have 50-60 people on campus all willing to work and better our campus and facilities for the service dogs.  Fences got stained, cabins got painted, dogs got walked, trees got trimmed, cupboards were put in, we cut a hole in the side of our building (on purpose of course, we put a new window in!), and in the end we all got fed by the wonderful Davenport Lions Club.  A HUGE thank you to our Board Members who could join us and of course to all the dedicated volunteers who come year after year and put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears!  Your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed!

Every Hero has a Story: North Dakota Library Association Summer Reading Program

As school activities are winding down for the year and the summer fun begins, so does the North Dakota Library Association’s (NDLA) summer reading program!  The theme this year is Every Hero has a Story and Service Dogs for America has been listed as one of the available presentations.  We are so thankful to the NDLA for the opportunity to be listed for this great program.

So far we have quite a few library presentations booked and it seems like the spots are filling up more and more each day!  To reserve a spot or to just find out more about our organization and what kinds of presentations we offer call Annie at 701-685-5003 or email client.services@servicedogsforamerica.org.

We can’t wait to travel around the state and visit some libraries this summer!


It seems like on any given day we have a client on campus training with their new life partner.  What a great feeling that is!  Each day new preliminary and full applications come in, references go out, schedules are made, and we LOVE it!  To see all the hard work pay off when our clients finally get to campus and meet their service dog is an indescribable feeling.  It’s worth every single paper cut I get (it happens more than it probably should at my age)!

Keep checking our Facebook for new updates on our clients, past and present, as they are all really great about keeping us updated on their lives.

Rescue Dogs

I know I have talked about this in the past, but it’s something that I feel is important enough to keep coming back to.  So many of our service dogs in training are rescue dogs or dogs that have been “donated” by their owners.  They turn out to be some of the best service dogs we have.  Not to take away from the puppies and dogs that we breed on campus, but rescue dogs truly know what it is like to have a second chance at life.

Not all of our dogs are the typical lab breeds either.  Evie and Fiona are Rough Collie/Irish Wolf Hound Mixes and they are beautiful, loving, and intelligent beyond words. Big Charlie is a Portuguese Water Dog/Giant Schnauzer Mix with beautiful black hair and the cheesiest smile you will ever see on a dog.  Denali is a Lab/Husky Mix who was donated because her family was moving and they couldn’t bring her with and she knows how to cheer anyone up.  These are just a few examples of the rescue dogs we currently have that will no doubt make a huge impact on someone’s life one day.  I am so proud of our rescue dogs and huge credit is due to our training staff who work tirelessly to restore the trust and love in these animals that is sometimes lost when they are shuffled from family to family, shelter to shelter, or just abandoned on the side of the road.

….I’m getting emotional now so I have to stop, but I hope you can see my point!

Diabetic Alert Breath Samples

We were recently featured in the Jamestown Sun in regards to our diabetic alert dog program and volunteer breath sample program that we are developing.  Since our appearance in the paper we have so many calls from interested people who want to help.  I am so happy to report that we now have a growing group of breath sample volunteers for the program.

Can you say perfect timing? It’s a great time to begin getting more samples because our English Cocker Spaniels, (Jazzy, Missy, Reese, and Charlie) turned one in January and now is the time to start the specialized training for them.  They already have the scenting down, now the trainers have to teach them how to alert when they pick up on the low blood sugars.


Well, that is all I will write for now.  It has been so busy here at Service Dogs for America, I am glad I was able to get a few minutes to share an update on things with you all!

As always, thank you for your continuous support of our organization, the dogs we train, and the individuals we serve.  We truly could not do what we do without you!



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Chet “Topper”

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Earlier today, Chet “Topper” and his partner graduated and received their certificate from Service Dogs for America.  Chet and his partner first came on campus in November for a few days for the first part of their training.  They came back at the beginning of this week and yesterday they were able take their Public Access Test and (of course) they passed with flying colors.  Because they passed the test, they were able to receive their certification from us and graduate! (Graduation also means cake, yum! :) )

Chet is originally from Nebraska.  He came from Second Chance Pups, a prison training program located there.  As you can tell from the photos, Chet is not a typical-looking service dog:  he is part Border Collie and part Lab.  For the first part of his life, Chet’s name was just that: Chet, but one day a wonderful organization came into our lives…or Shelley, our Development Director, introduced them to us, but either way they heard about our cause and wanted to help!  This wonderful organization is called “Topper’s Car Club” located in Fargo, ND.  They stepped up in a HUGE way–they sponsored the cost of an entire service dog, Chet the service dog to be exact.  And that is how Chet became Chet “Topper.”  Before Chet met his partner and matured overnight, he would answer to the names when he wanted to.  Now you can throw both of the names at him and he perks his ears every time.

That’s another thing I learned about placements.  When I first heard Chet was being placed, I was a little nervous.  Chet was a lot like a teenage boy: kind of impulsive, very unpredictable, and he definitely had a little attitude.  To be honest, I had played every worst case scenario possible in my mind with Chet and his new partner.  The very first day I saw them together, I made the decision that I would never question why a dog was placed with this person or that person again.  Chet knew it was job to help his Veteran; he knew it was his time to be a Service Dog, and he does his job very well.  I believe Chet’s success is a huge testament to not only our kennel and training staff, but also to the Veteran who got Chet.  They are an unstoppable team and after watching them work together for even five minutes you can tell they speak the same “language.”

It was so great to see Chet and his partner again, but it was also bittersweet, at least for me anyway.  Normally, a client comes on campus for a three week period.  During this time we probably drive them crazy with all the training, questions, picture taking (that’s my job!), and overly cheesy smiles because we are SO happy our dogs are doing their jobs so well.  After three weeks, they take their test, pass, we party, and they leave.  We only have to say goodbye to the dog once, but because the certification process for PTSD dogs is a little different we had to say goodbye to Chet “Topper” twice.  Just like every other client, we are so sad to see the wonderful service dog leave, but we are overjoyed that the dog we have invested so much time, training, and love into is literally changing another person’s world.

I would like to end this post by saying THANK YOU again to Topper’s Car Club and CONGRATS to Chet “Topper” and his partner!

**Note: The photo on the left in the beginning of this post is one of the members of Topper’s Car Club who was able to come to the new team’s graduation.  We were so happy to have him there!


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Diabetic Breath Sample Volunteers….What?

Sorry guys, I don’t have a wildly imaginative title for this blog post, and I didn’t want to sit here until I thought of one so I figured I better just start this post!  We are currently seeking Type I & Type II Diabetics who can donate their breath samples of low blood sugars to assist us in training our Diabetic Alert service dogs.

We currently have four English Cocker Spaniels who are being trained as Diabetic Alert service dogs.  They began their training when they were less than a week old; before their eyes and ears were even open!  Danette, our master trainer and breeder of these special pups, held a cotton ball that contained a breath sample with a blood sugar of 70 in front of the eight sleeping puppies.  Five of the pups were awakened by the scent and started to follow it.  Danette rewarded them by letting them have a treat: their mommy!  Danette picked the top 4 sniffers and that is how we got our precious pups: Jazzie, Missy, Reese, and Charlie.  They recently turned a year old and now instead of holding a cotton ball in front of their noses, our trainers hide the cotton balls in one toy and throw it with all the other toys (and trust me we have a lot of toys!).  When the dogs find the correct toy they are rewarded with a treat and reassuring praises. It is quite amazing, but we can’t continue our training without generous donations of breath samples!

If you are interested in possibly becoming a breath sample volunteer or want more information on our Diabetes Alert dogs, just give me a call at 701-685-5003 or e-mail me at client.services@servicedogsforamerica.org.  I have a list of guidelines about collecting these samples that I would just love to share with you so contact me today! :)



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Crazy Days at SDA!

I was told that some people actually read my blogs, so I thought I should do another one since it has been such a long time!  You wouldn’t think of Jud, ND as a very busy place, but SDA has been just that!

Our first client of 2015, James, graduated recently.  He and Rudi, his service dog, passed the Public Access Test with flying colors, but we had very little doubt that he wouldn’t ace it!  James is an amazing client and Rudi is an amazing dog.  While we will miss them both immensely, we truly saw a miracle unfolding as their relationship was established and “groomed” (haha, get it?).  They are a dream team and now I get it.  I know what my co-workers were talking about when they would say, “If you think we make a difference now, wait until you see your first placement.”  All I have to say is wow!  I’m speechless, and that says a lot coming from me–I’m never speechless!

Shortly after James left, our wonderful staff swooped in and cleaned the cabin he stayed in while he was here in preparation for one of our ND Veterans who is coming back to finalize his training.  He will be graduating soon, too!

On Friday we had ALL of our dogs on campus for their shots.  We figured we’d go easy on our Veterinarian and bring the dogs to her rather than have her going to all the places we have our dogs!  Having twice as many dogs on campus as we normally do is quite an experience to say the least.  Twice the barking, twice the amount of food and water, and well…you can figure the rest out!  It was great having all of our dogs in one place though, at least I enjoyed it, but I should really just speak for myself!

On Saturday we had the Busy Bobcats from Gwinner visit.  We were so happy to have them, they are a great group of parents and kids!  They got to meet our youngest Canine Staff, Greta and they also got to catch up with Sarge, the Service Dog Sargent County is raising money for.

Don’t forget we also have Giving Hearts Day coming up! (February 12th, mark you calendars!)  We’ll have more information about that coming soon.  Also, Purses for a Purpose will be hitting Minot on February 7th and sweeping Jamestown on February 8th!  We can’t wait!  For more information on GHD and these events, email client.services@servicedogsforamerica.org.

Check back later this week–I’m working on a post about our Diabetes Alert Service Dog that we need Volunteer Breath Samples for.

As always, thanks for reading my ramblings!

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Purses for a Purpose in Jamestown & Minot!

Purses for a Purpose: Jamestown

February 8th, 2015, 4-7 pm

Buffalo City Rotisserie Grill

Jamestown, ND


Regular tickets: $25.00

(silent auction bid number, hors d’oeuvre, beverage ticket included)

VIP tickets: $50.00

(enters purse exchange first)

Purses for a Purpose is a fun-filled event organized by the Paws4Ward Committee and many dedicated volunteers. All proceeds from the event will go towards helping a North Dakota Veteran obtain a PTSD Service Dog.

During Jamestown’s event there will be complimentary hor d’oeuvres prepared by one of the major sponsors, Buffalo City Rotisserie Grill as well as a beverage provided by the other major sponsor Valley Sales.

There will be tables filled with various silent auction items and of course we can’t forget the main event—the purse exchange! Remember, you get what you give!

By attending this event, you will change lives!

To RSVP for this event contact: Annie Strickland (client.services@servicedogsforamerica.org or call 701-685-5003)

Shelley Nannenga (Shelley@servicedogsforamerica.org or call 701-658-0330)

Seating is limited—call today!



Purses for a Purpose: Minot

February 7th, 2015 2-6 pm

Sleep Inn & Suites Hotel

Minot, ND

To RSVP for this event contact: Tricia Nechodom



The Purses for a Purpose Event in Minot features wine and chocolate sampling in addition to the great variety of purses!

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Help SDA through Crowdrise

Have you heard about Crowdrise?  If your answer is “Yes, I have heard of Crowdrise!” Congratulations to you, you beat me to it!  If your answer is, “No, please tell me more!”, I would LOVE to!  If your answer is not one of the two above answers, I don’t know what to tell you because you’re going to hear all about Crowdrise anyways, sorry! :)

Crowdrise is probably the EASIEST way to raise money on the internet.  Their website, www.crowdrise.com, claims you  can make a donation in less than 30 seconds!  What other things can you do in less than 30 seconds?  I can do these things in 30 seconds: put my shoes on, put my hair up in a horrible looking bun, aaaaaand I can’t even think of anything else, but none of those things are as effective and worthwhile as donating to a great organization like SDA!

Another reason we really like Crowdrise is the fact that they don’t take half your donation for processing fees.  They generally only take 3-5% for processing which is comparatively lower than other online fundraising campaigns, which means SDA gets a larger portion of your donation and that makes us really happy.

The trend of online fundraising has created SO many individually motivated philanthropic opportunities.  Ummm….WHAT?  Basically, if you want to start a fundraiser and appeal to your friends and family for a worthy cause (why not Service Dogs for America?) for say, your birthday, you can do that.  You can set it up on Crowdrise, pick a goal, and send the information out to your contacts.  Instead of buying gifts they can just donate to your chosen charity.  Engaged couples register for their favorite charities instead of registering for gifts, graduates can do the same thing in honor of their graduation day, and so on.  The opportunities are truly endless.

Personally, I like Crowdrise because they are funny.  For example, under their logo on the Crowdrise homepage is the line, “If you don’t give back no one will like you.”  I’m not trying to pressure anyone into donating, I just really appreciate their odd sense of humor.

I hope I was able to enlighten you a little bit about this great new fundraising phenomenon.  For your convenience, if you feel so inclined, I have included our DIRECT link to our page on Crowdrise for you to make a donation.


Thank YOU for your continued support of Service Dogs for America, we could not do what we do without YOU!


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SDA is Hiring!

Service Dogs for America is currently looking to fill two positions at our Jud campus.

The first position is for Kennel Assistant.  This position involves moving the dogs from their kennels to the outside pens as well as various cleaning activities.  A genuine LOVE of everything involving four furry paws is a must!  This position is vital in the training of our dogs and for that reason only qualified individuals will be considered.

The second position is Apprentice Trainer.  This position is a learn-on-the-job type of experience.  You would get paid to learn how to train dogs according to ADI standards.  This position would eventually lead to becoming certified by Assistance Dogs International, a very prestigious qualification to have!

We would love to have some new team members at SDA and the dogs love meeting new people!

For an application e-mail info@servicedogsforamerica.org or call 701-685-5003.  A PDF version of our employment application will be up soon.

Please pass these opportunities on to anyone who you think you be a good fit with SDA!


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Respect the Vest and Other Presentations

Service Dogs for America is available for any type of presentation or demonstration for any event you may have!  Just call 701-685-2242 and talk to Annie to get on the schedule!

Currently, one program we are SUPER excited about is called the Respect the Vest.  It is geared for elementary school-age children, but it can be modified to fit whatever age group is necessary.

The purpose of this presentation is to inform the public about what to do when they come upon a service dog in the public setting.  By teaching children the proper etiquette of what to do when they see a service dog, we are also educating the parents because children LOVE to tell their parents the cool things they learn in school and it seems like those types of “lessons” stick with you longer than reading a brochure!

To accompany this presentation, our Development Director has developed some great supplemental worksheets to really help this lesson leave an impression!

Call us today, we would love to visit your school with one of our service dogs and share the important message of Respect the Vest.



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Lucky is up for Adoption!


Every once in a while one of the dogs in training at SDA doesn’t make the Service Dog program for various reasons.  Lucky is one of those dogs, but because of all the great skills he does possess he is now available for adoption.

Let me tell you about our boy Lucky.  He is a medium-large sized yellow labrador retriever who was born 9/12/11.

He is a playful, yet tender-hearted boy who loves to snuggle and socialize.  He is amazing with children and adults alike and socializes well with other dogs and cats.  Lucky would be an excellent candidate to become a certified therapy dog.  He is a goofy character who can bring a smile to everyone he meets.

He has advanced training beyond the basic obedience, and is trained to snuggle and visit on command as well as several other public access and manners commands.  Because of his advanced training and excellent temperament, SDA is asking $1,000.00 for Lucky.  He is neutered, up to date on his shots, has excellent hips and is in very good physical condition.

The reason Lucky is no longer in the Service Dog program at SDA is because he just simply does not “want the job” of being a service dog (it’s a tough job!).  Instead, Lucky wants an individual or family who will love him.  He would be a great addition to any family or therapeutic practice.

If you are interested in Lucky, please e-mail services@servicedogsforamerica.org and request an adoption application, or call SDA at 701-685-2242.

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We’re baaaaaack!

Well, it’s been a while since we’ve posted a blog, but we are officially back and will be reporting on here more regularly.

There are a lot of new things going on at SDA since we last posted.  All those puppies from the last post are grown up and some have been placed while others are still perfecting their specific training skills.

In January of 2014 a litter of English Cocker Spaniels made their way into the world and we are proud to announce that 4 of those puppies have been accepted for our Diabetes Alert Service Dog program.  I’ll post more specifics about this program and these little rockstars later.

We are working on starting a Prison Program in Bismarck.  We will partner with an area rescue group and work collaboratively with them to train shelter dogs and give them a “second chance” at a great life.  I’ll also post more about that later.

The volunteer program is slowly getting off the ground and hopefully VERY soon we will have a strong program.  Slowly, but surely.  Again–you guessed it–I’ll post more about that later.  If you see this and you are interested in getting on the volunteer list, shoot an email to client.services@servicedogsforamerica.org with your name, address, phone number, and what types of things you would like to volunteer for.

We’ve also been doing all kinds of presentations around the state.  Just this fall alone we’ve been to: NDSU, Globe University, VCSU, United Congregational Church of Christ in VC, Mayor’s Committee Presentation in Wahpeton, State Lions Convention in Jamestown, Minot VFW, LaMoure Senior Center, Streeter Lions Club, MS Conference in Fargo, and the list goes on.  Let’s just say we’ve put A LOT of miles on the Service Dogs for America vehicle.

We’ve also been busy planning fundraisers.  At the moment we are getting ready for Purses for a Purpose in Jamestown on February 8th from 4-7 pm at the Buffalo City Rotisserie Grill.  This same event raised over $17,000 to assist ND Veterans in obtaining service dogs earlier this year.  Minot and Bismarck are also planning similar events to help our ND service people.  If you would like more information about these events, see our Upcoming Events tab here or give us a call, we’ll be happy to fill you in.

Giving Hearts Day is also coming up.  Don’t worry, you will DEFINITELY be hearing a lot about that as well!  The theme is WARM UP, which might be hard to do in chilly ND, but it’s not IMPOSSIBLE! :)

Well that about covers it for now, stay tuned for more updates.  And pictures. And information. And whatever else I think might interest you!

Woof woof!

–Annie, SDA

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