Sadie’s Playbook

Sadie’s Playbook

Volunteer Spotlight

Each month Retrieving Independence recognizes one of our dedicated volunteers. With a group of more than 50 active volunteers pouring love and training into our service dogs, we are forever indebted and grateful for these people!

This month we’d like you to meet Stacie Chevrier and Sadie. We hope you enjoy reading their story as told by Stacie herself. You can also find more information about Stacie’s journey at

stacie - Sadie

Sadie & Stacie

Earlier this year, my husband and I decided to remodel our kitchen. As a friendly contractor measured our cabinets, he casually asked if we had any pets. I explained the sad story, that all animal lovers inevitably experience. We had lost our beloved 15-year German Shepherd, Bear, in 2016 and had not been able to wrap our heads around another (at least) decade long commitment. The contractor then began telling me about an organization his daughter volunteers with called, Retrieving Independence. Immediately my interest was ignited.

Within the week I visited the Retrieving Independence website, followed them on social media and submitted my application to become a Furlough Volunteer. After exchanging a few emails, I was asked if I might be interested in raising one of the nine puppies from Bella’s litter. Before I had a chance to think, my heart screamed, “YES” and a few weeks later, my husband and I drove away from the Farm at Natchez Trace with a sweet little pup in my arms named Sadie.

Over the next two months of puppy raising Sadie, she taught me much more than I taught her.  Sadie tackles each day, outing, encounter and task with so much joy and enthusiasm. She wants to be friends with everyone. I admire her ability to both follow her intuition and sometimes be fearless when facing uncertainty. Sadie enjoys food and eats without worrying about getting fat.  She sleeps when she’s tired – typically rising and resting with the sun. Sadie is comfortable with stillness and doesn’t always feel the need to go-go-go. Sadie lives in the present, forgives easily and loves fully. We could all take a few lessons from Sadie’s playbook.

Putting her on the bus to start her training at Turney Correctional Facility on June 12th was bittersweet. Naturally, I was sad to see her go, but knew she was ready to begin the next chapter. In honor of her departure, I decided to hold a Facebook fundraiser and with the generous contributions of friends and family, we raised nearly $700 for Retrieving Independence.

Between our furlough weekends, I miss her, but take much solace knowing that she is in the process of spreading her playbook teachings to her trainers and future recipient.

About Retrieving Independence:

Retrieving Independence is a Nashville-based 501(C)3 nonprofit that breeds, trains and places service dogs with people who are living with physical, mental or emotional disability.

This is all accomplished with the help of volunteer breeders, puppy raisers, and weekend furlough volunteers. Through our partnership with the Tennessee Department of Corrections, RI works with inmates to provide a significant portion of the training throughout the almost two-year program.

That’s what we do. But WHY do we do it?

We do it for the love poured into the dogs by the volunteers. We do it for the purpose and dignity it gives the inmate trainers. We do it for the life-rocking change it gives to our incredible recipients.

Love. Dignity. Change.

To learn more about being a puppy raiser or a weekend furlough volunteer like Stacie, visit our website for all the details and consider signing up to share your heart and change a life with a service dog.