Closed (partial funding): Help Sammie the service dog make a “Pawsitive Influence” at North Woods

Summary: Help raise money for a school service dog to provide a calming effect for special education and regular classroom students at North Woods International School.

Goal: $5,500   •   Amount raised: $473 (this does not include donations received through a separate La Crosse SOUP fundraising event)  •   School: North Woods International School   •   Sponsor Name: Heather Stern


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Click on the image above to see a WXOW-TV story: Sammie the service dog to work at North Woods Elementary

About My Project: This fundraising project will support a school service dog at North Woods. Sammie’s primary focus is the special education program, but she is available for all students in the building. She has already started here at North Woods. She provides a calming effect by her presence in the classroom, and provides comfort without judgment to people, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities. In early interactions, Sammie proved to be able to encourage students in ways that adults could not. Students were motivated to earn “Sammie time” — whether it was to walk down the hallway, or provide 5 minutes of snuggling or sit with a student in the tree house while the student read to Sammie.

Where Your Donation Goes: The fundraising goal is to generate additional funds towards the cost of $15,000 for her training at Retrieving Freedom, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Waverly, Iowa, dedicated to training service dogs to help people.  They worked with Sammie in the spring of 2017 to train her to prepare her for the school setting.

The La Crosse Public Education Foundation provided a $5,000 grant last spring toward the training, and $1,500 has been raised from other school sources and a personal donation, but substantial funds remain to be raised to help Sammie complete her training.

All donations to LPEF are tax-deductible and will be acknowledged via letter. LPEF adds a small surcharge to offset credit card processing fees and related expenses. For more details, go to our About Support-a-School page.

  • If fundraising falls short of the goal, money will be used to fulfill as much of the project as feasible.
  • If fundraising exceeds the goal, the project will be expanded or money will go to a similar purpose at the same school.


  1. Deanne says

    I would love to see you present at La Crosse Soup! This would be perfect!

  2. Samnie is not a service dog says

    Sammie would not be considered a service dog but a therphy dog. Service dogs are focused on one person and trained to migrate that persons disability. Therphy dogs help more than one person. There is a huge difference and i think the school district needs to get their facts right. While i think its a good idea. .i want right terms used with kids so if they see a real service dog out in public they will know not to pet it. A service dog is used like a medical device and could be the life and death difference for the individual they serve. Thank you..a concerned citizen (who happens to have a real service dog)

    • Heather says

      Than you for your comment. You are correct in that she is not a 1:1 service dog. She is a school service dog and that is very different. She has been trained different. Sammie does wear a vest to school and we are educating the students that service dogs are 1:1 and their jobs are to keep their person safe. We have also taught the students they are not allowed to touch her without permission or when she is working with her vest on. Her initial path was to be a service dog for a vet with PTSD or a child with Autism when she originally came to North Woods. As the story describes, her plan changed as we saw a need for her at school. Scott Dewey, from Retrieving Freedom, came to North Woods to help teach all the children about the role of a service dog and that Sammie’s role is different. I hope this helps clarify your concerns.

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