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North Star Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Services, Animals, Arts & Culture, Education, Single Organization Support, Special Education

Mission: North Star Foundation was formed to help children who have developmental differences such as autism, or who must face challenges such as the loss of a parent, through the use of a specially bred and trained Assistance Dog. Our mission is to help children reach their social, emotional, and educational goals through the use of Animal-Assisted Therapy. We work with the children's existing therapists to help them incorporate their North Star dog into a child's therapeutic program. We travel to childrens' schools to present a program to their peers that promotes tolerance and understanding, as we believe there is no better way to teach tolerance than through the avenue of an Assistance Dog that is trained to help. We also work with children's families, teaching them how to use their North Star Dog to help smooth transitions and soothe anxiety for everybody on the homefront.

Results: We have directly served 350 families with kid/canine partnerships and guided thousands of families in knowing how to best meet their children's social, emotional and educational needs.

Target demographics: children who face social, emotional or educational challenges

Direct beneficiaries per year: 15 families and thousands of parents seeking help and guidance in raising their children.

Geographic areas served: all over the world, as we have no borders!

Programs: assistance dog and therapy dog partnerships.

Community Stories

62 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

5 Matthew B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son has autism, and Patty brought a beautiful soul into our lives in the form of a NorthStar golden retriever. In just a few days the puppy has had a positive effect on our son, and we are very excited to see what the coming years will bring for them together. We haven't started the training yet, but are excited to get going so our boy can reap the full benefit from his furry partner. Thank you NorthStar and Patty!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Patty and her son Dan not only serve North Star families tirelessly, but the enduring example they give us, in their journey as a family living with Autism, is a tremendous gift. Our North Star assistance dog(the second in our 19 years with North Star) is the reason our lives are expanded with many more possibilities and thankfully the peace of mind and quality of life that is priceless. I’m also inspired by the sacrifice Patty makes financially with her commitment to provide assistance with fundraising and forgoing the true cost of her work. She’s the real deal, and deserves so much more than she asks for.

North Star’s work providing high quality service dogs for children living with autism and other challenges, is not just life changing and life saving for the children and their families, but it also exponentially warms hearts and minds throughout the communities that are lucky enough to know her dogs and their families. I vote for North Star!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I contacted Patty to inquire about the organization and possibility of placing a dog with my son. She responded within 2 hours crafting an email full of information including a referral to another agency which may be a better fit.

I appreciated her responsiveness and professionalism.

Donor

Rating: 5

I’ve been following North Star Foundation via Facebook for several years.
Initially I was simply enamored by the lovely puppy pictures. Soon the Informative and seasoned wisdom from North Star founder, Patty, proved to be equally anticipated.
Although my children and those of our friends are now adults we continue to welcome new arrivals as grandparents. There have been several occasions wherein I was able to recommend Patty as a resource to young parents.
At age fifty-eight I’ve donated to a variety of non profit organizations over the years. North Star by far has been and continues to be the most gratifying.
I’ve had the added pleasure of getting to know Patty personally and also to enjoy a rewarding Facebook friendship with her son, Dan.
It is truly a privilege to be but a small part of such a sincere valiantly led program.

Gerard H.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Patty and North Star have been an incredible influence for so many families over the years. I have seen first hand just how impactful North Star’s work is - the dogs they raise are not only beautiful animals but have incredible training and temperament, making them amazing companions to the children they serve. An amazing organization to say the least.

2 Faustina A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

North Star Foundation is an excellent NON PROFIT organization that wholeheartedly takes care, trains and treats their awesome looking puppies with the best of care!

8

Volunteer

Rating: 1

One of several programs that basically provides Emotional Support Animals and claims they are service dogs while preying on Special Needs parents. Many of the dogs in training don’t get the vet visits they need in a timely manner because of money issues and volunteers are put into the awkward position of paying for expenses. The puppy raisers and trainers are given very little guidance. I think their heart is in the right place most of the time but the follow through is poor at best and they’ve left a trail of poorly trained dogs and debts behind them.

4 Mandi L.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I want to let you know of an experience we had where Echo,my daughter's service dog, was amazing and all the hard work that Team Echo has put in, shined.

Anna and I went to Hobby Lobby today and were looking around. I was headed to the bathroom when I heard a sharp barking noise that wasn't Echo. He was looking at Anna and didn't even respond to the noise. When I came back, I saw Anna sitting in one of the empty isles with Echo on her lap doing some Deep Pressure Therapy because the barking
startled and scared her. She was starting to have an anxiety attack. Because Echo wascalm and be her side, she was calm and happy.

We decided to look around some more. When we came out of an isle there was the lady with a little dog in the cart jumping and barking, making us and other people jump with surprise. Echo didn't flinch. He kept walking right next to Anna.

The difference between a trained dog and a pet. From the careful breeding and handling, puppy raising, trips back and forth to visit, bonding, training with an amazing trainor who loves and understands dogs and my daughter, some frustration, lots of patience, emails to Patty, hard work, cuddles, kisses all equal one amazing dog. It was awesome to see it all come together today.

With much love and gratitude,

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love dogs and I totally support animal rescues. There are so many dogs that are waiting for their forever home. However as a puppy raiser for the North Star Foundation there is something different about these puppies. Their temperament and patience and attentiveness is because of the very careful and specific breeding program. I've had puppies to socialize that are from other breeders. They were sweet and well behaved and would make great pets but that wasn't enough to work with a child with special needs. They obviously didn't make the cut to work with a child on the autistic spectrum. Fine breeding, critical socialization and intense training is what makes North Star Foundation dogs so special. The pups must remain relaxed and attentive in a distracting world and in stressful situations so they can keep their child safe. These dogs are so much more than just pets. They become a sort of lifeline between their child and the world around them. Please don't assume that just any dog has this ability.

4 Robin E.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our North Star dog, Lacey, has been a godsend. I have never met a dog with her temperament and disposition. She is intuitive and intelligent, empathetic and sweet. Patty matched her personality to my son's and the placement was amazing from the start. Her socialization before she came to us also had a profound influence. Not only has she helped my son, who is on the autistic spectrum, but she has helped me as well. Everyone that meets her has commented on how wonderful she is and that she is one in a million. I thank North Star Foundation for the difference they have made in our lives.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

North Star, led by Patty Dobbs Gross has been one of the strongest foundations in our quixotic journey on the autism spectrum. Our first North Star dog recently passed and served us joyfully for 16 years. He was not one of North Star's goldens because our child was an extreme flight danger and we requested a Border Collie instead. Patty happily accommodated our special needs and orchestrated every detail of his training, and even counseled my shaky confidence as the primary handler for my son. Tyler came to us fully trained and ready to learn as we navigated our shaky ship. His intelligence and adaptability was truly amazing! What a gift.
We are now part of the training team for our second North Star placement. We requested another Border Collie but ended up with an Australian shepherd, because of a serendipitous encounter Patty had with a new breeder. I was somewhat disappointed but I trust Patty and knew this breed also has a strong work ethic and very intelligent makeup, so we chose the path of discovery. So far this 8 month old pup is a quick study and melting hearts everywhere we go.
Our walk on the spectrum continues to be laden with difficulty daily. Our son continues to be nonverbal and in need of 1:1 care at all times. With Tyler and now Bella this trying daily challenge is sprinkled with fairy dust. Magical moments appear, heart felt connections are made and impossible challenges are navigated. I can't possibly thank Patty enough.
Disappointing outcomes have been plentiful in the 18 years of our life with Autism, from the many doctors that took our money and offered treatment towards a cure that often caused more harm than good, to the unprofessional teachers who mislead us and used methods that were expressly prohibited in our IEP, and other arrogant expressions of judgment on a clearly vulnerable family. If I was inclined to hold resentments I would need several layers with lots of pockets to handle them all. Fortunately I don't have the time or energy for that, and I have learned along the way that happiness is a choice and is much like that spoon full of sugar to help us through our daily medicine. Tyler was a great model of a happy soul and loved his job so much that he inspired me to follow suit. It's my greatest joy when I hear my son laugh and hear others marvel at his ease and comfort, noticing that he seems very happy in his own skin. That has always been our number one goal and the sacred ground that would not be sacrificed.
Patty has always been my sister in this regard, reminding me of the possibility of grace and beauty along the way. I'm amazed at how much she juggles and how many families she serves, and continue to fundraise for her because I don't think she charges enough for what she does. Luckily for her and me, our amazing dogs make so many friends and neighbors love them, that generosity and charity are commonplace. My sincere thanks and gratitude to North Star for Tyler, one of my greatest loves, and now Bella my wee cherub in training.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

We became involved with Patty and North Star when I was reading about assistance dogs and read Patty's book The Golden Bridge. I contacted Patty and she spent a great deal of time talking us through what this undertaking would involve and sent us a video to watch. As we did our homework, I felt very comfortable in calling Patty with questions as she was eager to help and educate. We made the decision to move forward and get a North Star dog for our son who has Autism as well as extreme anxiety. We visited with Patty, who made an instant connection with our son who was seven at that time. When it was our time to receive this precious gift it came with the name of Tigger! He was living with a puppy raising family who had trained him. He had all the basics down, was calm, well behaved and very loving at 9 months. He came home and our lives changed. Although he was an assistance dog for my son Caleb, he became an invaluable member of the the family and a source of great joy and comfort to my husband and I as well! We continued Tigger's training with Patty's guidance and he learned very specific things geared to Caleb's needs. This training was paid for by North Star. Over the years we have had hundreds of people comment on Tigger's temperment and beauty. Healthy, happy and a source of great joy and comfort for our family. We love you Tigger!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our family was lucky enough to be invited to raise a North Star breeding dog for the North Star Foundation five years ago. After our family was vetted (very thoroughly by Patty herself) and deemed a safe and healthy place to raise a puppy from their line, and after being given a set of safety and health guidelines (as well as the breeder agreement that outlines how NS dogs are to be raised for their and others' safety, health and comfort, etc) and a direct connection to Patty to stay in frequent touch, we were lined up to receive a puppy to raise.
We received the pup on Christmas Eve, and she is to this day, at the age of five, still one of the best gifts EVER!
We know North Star puppies are bred to be attentive to people, responsive, calming, and well behaved, and I have to say this Golden and North Star met this expectation easily, and then surpassed what we expected in any number of ways.
We co-owned the dog with Patty, and she went along to provide 2 litters for North Star as agreed. Patty only allows two litters per dog maximum, and doesn't permit them to be impregnated until they are the optimum age for carrying and delivering a litter.
I have to say I was VERY glad that our dog went to Patty's foundation about two weeks before her due date so that she would be carefully watched over and monitored in the weeks leading up to delivery, and then overseen by Patty during the delivery. I would have been totally overwhelmed to have been in charge of that! I know Patty was up all night ushering new puppies into the world in a peaceful and gentle way for each litter, as she called me early in the morning to let me know (and congratulate me!) after each. Our dog raised the puppies for the required time for each litter, and was then returned to us to go back to her normal life.
She's retired now, and continues to be a sweet, funny, lively soul happily living among our family... She LOVES people, is sweet as pie with us and our other dog and cat, and is so tuned in to me as to seem human. She has big brown soulful eyes that are checking in with me at many points during any given day just to make contact and exchange a silent 'hello,' and 'all is well.'
But her dog side continues to love taking long walks with us and our other dog as they run huge circles around us through fields, woods and along paths. She loves to swim great lengths and loves lying on the deck in the sun. And I can't count the times I get stopped by people telling me what gorgeous dog I have. I wish I could take credit. She has long silky honey fur and a full plume of a tail. I know North Star breeds mainly for temperament, but Patty's throwing in some flat-out gorgeousness is a nice little extra.
We had the opportunity to visit with Patty and Ron several weeks ago as they were picking up a North Star dog near our town and dropped by with it to say hi. It was our dog's daughter!!! What a treat to get to see her grown 2-year-old. And I say 'our' dog's daughter because now that she is five (on October 4, my birthday as well) and has completed her two litters, she is fully ours.
I'm in awe of North Star's breeding program and the thought and care put into the quality of the dogs they breed. Every step of the way that I was involved I felt an atmosphere Patty created of love, care, generosity, and deep purpose.
(PS--We traveled a few hours several weeks ago to view a public screening of the documentary "Buddy System." It's been shown in other states around the country but it was finally close enough to us that we could travel to see it. I don't know too much about it's conception and creation, but I do know it was made by a well regarded documentary maker, and followed several families over the course of several years that received North Star dogs. It was a moving tribute to all the people and work involved within and without the families, the foundation, schools, and communities surrounding autism service dogs. It also showed the magic going on in these families with the dogs, and their connection to Patty. There was a large audience at the screening and then there was a Q&A session afterward. Well worth going--)

2 Debra C.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Six years ago I made a desperate please to Patty not knowing if she would even receive my e-mail as I had read her book The Golden Bridge and our Family had a Service Dog for my son from a Canadian Based breeding program . Unfortunately that dog was going blind and we has less than 3 months to find a quality replacement service dog for or our son who has Autism and PTSD due to an assault by his school bus driver. We were afraid he would once again regress and be unable to leave our home.
Patty NOT ONLY responded almost immediately but she was able to provide us with the best service dog we could ever ask for :) North Star Rascal is amazing he is everything and more that Patty offered and he has changed my sons life allowing him to experience family vacations, simple trips to the store, school outings and to learn to trust strange people today as he tells people about his beloved "Rascal" . Rascal happily goes anywhere we ask him. He is constantly a stellar example of a proper service dog, everywhere we go he is praised for his exemplary behaviour and has become The Unofficial Canadian Ambassador for these amazing North Star Service Dogs

4 Stacy R.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son received a golden retriever through North Star Foundation in April of 2016. We are so grateful to this organization and particularly it's founder Patty for their ongoing support. She continued to work with us as we struggled with finding the right trainer and was there every step of the way to help make sure we got the right fit for this pair. Our son was unexpectedly born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia and was successfully treated at MGH as an infant. He has struggled in school from the very beginning, in preschool teachers identified him as needing services and was put on an IEP in kindergarten. Due to motor delays along with ADHD and a communication disorder diagnosis he has had to learn to persevere in social and emotional areas. However, as he was nearing the middle school years we knew he would be facing an even more difficult phase of life. After he was suspended from school due a miscommunication poorly handled by a social worker not prepared to work in a classroom environment someone told us about North Star Foundation. Ever since we got involved with this organization things have turned around. We feel lucky to have one of their dogs and appreciate the positive changes it has made in all of our lives, but particularly our son who is now thriving in 7th grade. Patty has been a consistent support as needed with positive guidance and reassurance. Her work with animals and children is really revolutionary and she brings a unique skill set as a therapist and careful dog breeder. We have had golden retrievers before from a trusted breeder and family friend, the North Star dog we have now is even more thoughtfully selected. She is a beautiful animal and a wonderful companion. Thank you!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

We waited quite a while until we receive and won George our Golden Retriver and when I say won I mean it. . Patty was in contact with me and knew my son's condition and understood that the most pleasant thing for him would be a calm and peaceful dog, because Ben is a child with Autism and ADAD . With patience Patty used to explain to me the waiting process and she never lost her patience. Then one day I got a phone call from Patti who said she has 4 amazing pupies . 3 males and one female and we have to come and choose one fir Ben because these pups came from very, very special parents . We drove from NJ to Connecticut to visit Petit .patti from her knowledge and experience Instracted us how to help Ben get connected with the dog . We sat wide-eyed and listened to every word and thought. Patti found George a very nice foster family and provided us a professional trainer who came to work with Ben and George at our house. The connection was amazing and we won an amazing dog. Everyone who knows George is impressed by his wisdom, especially his temper and ability to adapt to different situations and places. Here's an example. We never took George to the cinema, but this week when we took him with us, George realized that he had to be quiet and sit down until the movie was over . George is not yet two years old, but very smart and most importantly, he brings peace and gives Benthe peace he needs. Like most Golden Retriever George has hips problems. Avoiding inflammation is by maintaining its proper weight and take him for walks. In general we humans suffer from hip problems. We are imperfect human beings, and so are the dogs. After reading Stolepaws post I just want to tell her “Don’t judge what you don’t know “. !!!
If yo want to find a perfect placement for your child Patti is the right and best person to get connected with .

2 GoldenPup

Client Served

Rating: 5

We are so thankful for Patty and the wonderful organization she runs! Our Northstar Pup is about to turn 1 in a few weeks and is about to live with us full time in 2 weeks! She found an amazing puppy raiser for us who has been doing weekly visits with us since our girl was a few weeks old! She’s a very calm and loving puppy. Patty has been great at answering my questions , emails , long talks on the phone. This has truly been such a great experience for our family and we can’t wait for our beautiful girl to be here full time! I have a child who suffers with anxiety and Patty has been so amazing with her advice on how to have our puppy fit into our home successfully.

3 Lee Riccio M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have two sons on the Autism Spectrum. I heard about North Star soon after my sons were diagnosed. I talked to Patty the next day and it was clear to my husband and I that our sons could benefit from having an assistance dog. Patty was accommodating and we were kept informed of where we were on the waiting list. Once the puppies were born we visited the litter several times and also met with Stitch and his puppy raising family a few times. We received Stitch in the Fall of 2004. He received most of his training at his puppy raising home and then the rest with a local private trainer near our home. Stitch had two boys to help and he did this beautifully. I have had dogs since my childhood, including a Golden. I can say Stitch's temperament and intelligence was exceptional. He not only kept my middle son calm, but could also find my youngest on command. As a pediatric physical therapist who works in children's homes, I would often bring him with me and he could help me in many chores such as providing a surface for a toddler to pull to stand at or providing comfort during painful stretching. We had to say good bye to him this month; he lived a long and productive life that was unmarked by any large health issues. My boys are adults now, but if they were children, I would not hesitate to get another dog from North Star.

9

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

This nonprofit is unscrupulous in its placement of Dogs, its training arrangements, and its payment of debts. As a professional who trains service dogs, I was pleased to agree to work for Northstar to help a family in my area. I was surprised that Patty asked me few questions and did not ask for references. I began working with a year old standard poodle and her family to bring the dog to service dog status. I was in frequent email contact with Patty, who would agree with my training plan, then limit the already reduced payments because she thought we should concentrate in other areas. I tried to adjust my training to her substandard instructions. Patty professed that the dog was well-trained when the family received it, but they received no support and there was little evidence of previous training. As a social worker as well as dog trainer, I was able to identify family dynamics that made training with the family both difficult and essential. However, Patty stated that they would not continue past an additional 6 sessions and would not approve of steps to get the dog into school with the client (major motivation for the client). I completed the sessions and had a barely adequately trained service dog who was able to exhibit appropriate public access behaviors when handled by the Mom, and was able to perform a simple task for the boy, although not to the level one would wish. Patty stated that continued training and maintenance were the responsibility of this financially strapped family, and she never paid for the last sessions we had, nor would she, as required by law, give me the names and contact information for her board of directors.

Comments ( 1 )

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northstarfoundation 10/31/2017

You are clearly hiding behind anonymity to tell lies as your feelngs are hurt. The truth is that we paid you $250 to offer my client with a year old standard poodle, as you said that was your "initial" fee, so we paid you $125 per hour to see if you were right for working with my clients, which you were not. Our goals are therapeutic as well as training based, and I tried as politely as I could to let you know we'd end our relationship with this one initial $250 session, as is our right to do, but you insist on taking offence where none was meant for you, and slandering us by way of saying things like I have "substandard instructions" or that this family received a dog with "no training or support." I can easily prove the training this pup had before placement as well support given since, and once again, I am sorry that you weren't right for our work, but I did pay you $250 for the one time you came to visit my clients, so I am hoping you see this is a fair exchange of money for services. ~ Patty Dobbs Gross, North Star Foundation

Review from Guidestar

6

Client Served

Rating: 1

Please, Please, Please do not give your money to Northstar. They may have been mis-using funds. Patty took our money in 2015 and gave us the run around. There have been so many familes taken advantage of, just see the reviews from 2015 and beyond...https://greatnonprofits.org/org/north-star-foundation-2

We spoke in early July of 2015 regarding Northstar providing a service dog for our son who has Autism. After a very lengthy conversation, it was agreed that your Northstar would be a good match to pair our child with a dog, and Patty encouraged us to gather funds in the amount of $7500 so that she could provide him with a dog with full public service, she asked that we come up with $5000 so that he would be placed on your their list.
She and I spoke several times via telephone, facebook and email over the next few months, and an initial $5000 deposit was sent to her December 11th 2015 after she had emailed me 11/10 /15 stating:
“If you send this funding to me now I will put you on the waiting list, so I could hopefully have a North Star pup for you by next summer…” (Meaning summer of 2016).,
However, when I inquired in February of 2016, she stated that our son would NOT be receiving a dog the summer of 2016, but rather, his puppy would be born in November. When I asked for an explanation,
her February 23rd, 2016 email reply was: “Our waiting list is running about a year from the time you completed your fundraising and handed in your signed placement agreement...I have you down on our golden list, and we will be having several golden litter this year.”
I replied to this email, the same date, stating: “Thank you. Last we spoke you had mentioned Lily was ideal and would be bred this spring. We are Facebook friends, I feel like you've forgotten our conversations? I'm a little confused”
To which she responded, on the same date: “Hmmm...no, I know you've been on our waiting list for a few months and I know you are on our golden list and that Lily is one of our next girls to be bred...but one year's wait from the time you sign up is likely the timef rame for your wait, which I am sorry for but which is necessary in this field as "purpose bred" pups for this work is the standard and this necessitates a wait as we are dependent on Nature. “
I immediately sent the response: “Great, thank you. So we should expect around November for our child? “
And she responded 2/23/16 :“Yes, November will be about the time we will expect your pup to be born...I always try to beat the year's wait, but Nature sometimes trips me up...we have some very healthy girls like Nola and Lily about to have their second and first litters respectively so we're in very good shape!”


I checked in with Patty via email on 5/14/16, inquiring if we were still on for November, and you replied the same day “Than and yes about November and Lily's first litter…”

On 9/10/16 my family and I travelled to Patty's home to meet Lily and to personally hand her the remailing $2500 required to complete the $7500 payment for our son's service dog. At this time, she again assured us that we would be receiving a dog for our son from Lily’s litter.

Lily did deliver, however we were told again that our son would not receive his pup that he was was last on the waiting this for “this round” and he would not be receiving a pup, but she reassured us that he was FIRST on the list for the next round! Of course this was devastating, as we had already been given two separate times (Summer and then November) and we still did not have a companion for our child.



I spoke with Patty via facebook on January 13th 2017, inquired how Lily was doing and when she might expect to carry, and she answered: “Lily’s next heat will likely be May and we already have the same stud as her last litter (a dog I love named Kash) lined up...pregnancy in dogs is 9 weeks, so we are looking at a mid summer litter, my favorite kind!”

I again, spoke with Patty via Facebook May 2nd, inquiring if Lily should still be coming into heat that month, to which you responded, on the same date, “ Yes, this month or next...I have my eye on her but you know what they say about a watched pot not boiling!”

May 24th 2017, after hearing nothing, I inquired via facebook again, and Patty did not respond until June 8th, at which time she stated “ She’s doing well! No sign of heat yet, but she’s been to the vet, had her yearly exam and he heartguard/nexgard doses….her stud is waiting in CO for her to come into heat as is Dr.Huntington at Suffield Vet, an expert in her field of canine reproduction! I’ll be sure to keep you posted….

July 14th again, via facebook, I inquired and she stated :She’s ok but not insemination yet, everything is in place but the correct hormone level!”

August 7 2017, Again, via facebook, I inquired and her same day response was “ Hi, Not yet, but not sure….I’m taking Lily in tomorrow for her second heat check. I’ll be sure to keep you posted”

We did not hear from her, so I again, reached out to her via facebook on 8/27/17 and asked for a public update as people are starting to wonder what is going on, she replied that you would post an update to my facebook wall “I’ll do this Tuesday when I’m finally home and back at my desk”

This was not done by her, so I sent her an email September 1st stating “Would still love an update I can share with our son's supports when you can”
I did not receive a response, so again, I emailed her on September 10th, with the same request “Not sure if my last email went through. We'd still love and appreciate an update. We had anticipated that Lily would have delivered around this time, secondary to our previous conversations, just wondering where we're at. “

She responded 9/11 stating :
“ Hi ,
Sorry I didn't yet post to your page....I feel a tad awkward doing so as Lily is pregnant, but I don't yet know how many pup she is having....I have you as the seventh family on her list, so we'll have to have a litter of at least seven healthy well tempered pups to have one be yours, which is not unusual for pups from our healthy line....still, I don't like to get lots of hopes up before the pups are born as Nature can be cruel and capricious....I prefer to deliver the litter and then pass on good news, so I'm hoping you can keep this info under your hat for just ten more days so that we can know how many she has when she has them (she's due from 9/16 to 9/22nd...).”

I was shocked to hear this, as she had mentioned several times that our son was FIRST on Lily’s list (And also obviously very excited that she was due very soon”

I emailed her a reply, with a screenshot of our conversations stating “ Last year, you had said our son's puppy would be born in November (see screenshot), but he did not receive a puppy, then you stated when we spoke he would be first on list for Lily's next litter. I'm very confused, and a little upset. Please clarify”



To which she responded (on the same date) “You're right....sorry! I misread your year of completing your fundraising as 11/16, but it was actually 11/15...

So, yes, Lily's litter is due in about 10 days and you're sure to have one of these pups for you”

I checked in with her via email September 21st as to the progress to which she responded 9/22/17 “Yes, I think she's going to be due in mid October....she's looking very healthy and eating well!”

I was confused by this as she had stated on 9/11 that Lily was “due in about 10 days” , when I inquired why we were now being told October, she sent me an email 9/22/17 claiming “There were two attempted matings, and one would have had her delivering this weekend, and the other in mid October....I'm thinking the mid August mating was the one to take, leaving us in mid October for delivery…”

When I inquired on 10/15/17 via email, she responded 10/17/17 that Lily wasn’t even expecting.

I contacted a local breeder and a local vet after all of this and was told that there is no way any of this was accurate. After contacting Patty, she gave a multitude of excuses, and we requested our deposit back, she then offered to "Drop off a dog" that she has been "travelling the country with" and called a random trainer (That day) to attempt to "Set up training".
We discovered all of the reviews, and have heard from dozens of trainers, families, vets and former employees of Patty/Northstar foundation regarding non-payment, sick dogs and mis-use of funds.
Patty is refusing to return our son's $7500 at this time, and we are working with local law enforcement/media to make sure that a solution is found and other families are protected. Please feel free to contact us @ stolenpaws@gmail.com if you would like to speak to the media/attorney about your experience if you to, have been a victim
After threatening legal action, Patty, on October 18th, offered to "Drop off" a Dog named "angel" at our house.
We, over the course of several months, have repeatedly requested our son's funds be returned, and in response have received several emails/messages from Patty demanding that we remove our review of our honest experience with Northstar before she would be returning funds (Basically holding our money hostage). I had to block her on facebook as I was receiving agressive messages such as this one dated 11/19 "I told you I was taking your case to my board, and I did, and they requested you take down your slanderous post, so this is what needs to happen now." And this one the same date: "You don't scare me , but I can see you will remain unreasonable to the end.
Stop the slander and get your donation returned "
We notice in this time frame multiple *new reviews* with pictures, that although appear under several usernames, sound an awful lot like Patty in our opinion (as another reviewer mentioned, it appears that positive reviews on this site come from Patty herself)
As of 12/21/2017, After multiple emails from Patty demanding that we remove our review before return our funds, she has sent a refund so that we may avoid legal action. I am very glad to be finished with this nightmare, and pray that no other family goes through the heartbreak and abuse that this agency put us through :(

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northstarfoundation 10/20/2017

In all my years as a nonprofit included in Great Nonprofits, I have never had someone so blatantly slander us before, and until Great Nonprofit takes this slanderous post down, I will defend us with my words....this ends up an easy task. The author of this post is clearly unaware of the importance as well as risks of purpose bred breeding, nor of our clearly stated philosophy of placement that includes a waiting list. They turned down a lovely and well bred/socialized pup for their placement for no clear reason and refuse to wait the two years it would have taken to partner them up with a younger pup from a North Star litter. The biggest lie they tell is that I refused to return their $7,500 donation; THIS IS A LIE! Yes, the author had to wait longer than she wanted for her North Star pup: I can see impatience, but not going for my jugular....

6

Client Served

Rating: 1

Shady business practices and misappropriation of funds. This foundation operates like a pyramid scheme. They use families' monies to pay their existing obligations, not to deposit dogs for individual children as they claim. Be prepared to pay your trainer yourself, because we had to after she hadn't been paid in four months, and threatened to quit. Their Dogs have no AKC registration, and no health guarantees either. Ours had hip displasia which was never detected, and has suffered for years because of it. As a result, she was unable to assist our child after a few years, and had to be retired as a family pet.

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northstarfoundation 10/20/2017

In our 275 North Star placements in progress, I do not have one case of hip dysplasia, as our pedigree is so clean (you can check this out on this link from our website: http://www.northstardogs.com/history-of-north-star-dogs/), and I actually think you're the one that is being shady. I very seldom put deposits down on pups to serve as North Star dogs, as we strive to only use pups from our own lines and so your accusation of where I'm supposedly misusing funds is obviously wrong. I have to doubt your own veracity behind your anonymity, as I have never once refused to offer an operation to correct hip dysplasia in one of our pups, and that's because none of our pups have been diagnosed with hip dysplasia with a strong genetic base (ie, those case detected before age two, as any overweight or overexercised dog may eventually develop hip dysplasia despite excellent breeding). Submit proof of your claims or stop slandering us. Patty Dobbs Gross, North Star

Review from Guidestar

10

Client Served

Rating: 1

We received a beautiful dog from North Star, that was clearly not going to have a well controlled demeanor. Patty had hired a trainer who was very excited to do the job, but Patty never paid her; so she quit. Patty insisted that she left to train dogs for soldiers, but she told me that she wasn't paid. I was told I could find someone myself, and that Patty would fly down to check on us. Neither my trainer, nor the other, ever got answers from Patty on ways to train for kids on the spectrum. We were all in the dark. Bottom line, we loved our dog, who died at 5 from a heart tumor, but he was not what we expected at all.

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northstarfoundation 10/31/2017

I never had a dog who died at age five from a heart tumor, I don't breed dogs that are beautiful but ill controlled "demeanor" and I didn't leave North Star's work to train dogs for soldiers, so this review just doesn't pass the sniff test, but exists as evidence of the problem with anonymous online reviews....

15

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

I was curious how this organization was doing and now I see that the truth is finally coming out. I’m a professional trainer that was contracted to work with a family that received a dog from this organization. To start with this dog was not of the caliber of”service animal” which is what the family was expecting. I voiced concerns several times, but it all fell on deaf ears. Communication over this year period was horrible for all parties involved, the family and myself. Patty is over defensive and looks to blame instead of looking for solutions. It was truly a heart breaking situation to see the thousands of dollars the family had invested into a subpar dog. We even had an external second opinion and that trainer too felt this dog was not right for service or even therapy dog work. Most of the training I did was correcting behavior issues instead of focusing on tasks to help the child. In the end I was owed over $1000 for training services and still have not received any compensation. I felt so bad for the family that I volunteered to train a different dog for them when the time is right. Oh and at the last APDT (dog training) conference by chance I overheard another trainer that was talking about how she was yet to be compensated for training a North Star Dog. Hmm there is a theme here… Maybe Patty’s heart is in the right place, but the organization itself is completely mismanaged and in the end the children are missing out and the families are broke.

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northstarfoundation 10/31/2017

I don't owe any trainers so you'll have to identify yourself to me to see if I have overlooked you....I sure don't think so, but I'm not perfect, so if you want to contact me at pattydobbsgross@gmail.com and send me your outstanding invoice, I will absolutely stand by it if it is legitimate... otherwise this is just a trainer smear, which is an occupational hazard for our work as we do switch trainers around to find best fit, which does ruffle some feathers from time to time...

14

Volunteer

Rating: 1

As a former volunteer trainer for Northstar, and I say volunteer only because I never received payment for my services as promised by Patty. It is very sad that Patty is your best friend and supporter until one questions her or corrects her misdirected attempts at training a service animal.

I'm the first to tell you it is true a service dog can create miracles in the lives of children on the autism spectrum. Northstar & Patty is NOT the agency you want to partner with. You can read in her responses to any criticism against her or Northstar the level of un-professionalism in the tone of her reply.

Northstar Dogs are pawned off to unqualified puppy trainers who end up paying for all expenses for the puppy including vet bills. Then at 12 to 14 months old they are turned over to the family with no support or training prior to the placement or post placement. Then trainers like myself are hired at half what we normally charge out of the kindness of our hearts, to be stiffed by Patty.

Another lie is that Patty does all the work she does for her families free of charge and without salary. That is a total lie! Patty pockets the majority of every dollar Northstar receives and makes countless excuses to her vendors as to why she cannot pay them on-time, if at all.

PLEASE Do your homework and think very carefully when making the decision to purchase a service dog from Norhtstar. You will not get what you are promised and will end up with a very expensive family pet.

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northstarfoundation 10/20/2017

You are clearly the same writer as the post immediately above this, written just a week before so I'll let my response stand...I'm sorry I did not want to work with you as trainer, but I have to hire the people I think do the best work in this field to deliver quality for the children I serve. Making up lies about our policies, which you clearly know nothing about, is the most twisted kind of revenge I can imagine....

10

Volunteer

Rating: 1

Patty, you should not be surprised by the review written by RichL3399. I read at least two other ones along the same lines and my experience with you and North Star is similar although not quite as intense. I am surprised that you do not remove the negative ones from your site and only leave the "glowing" testimonials. If you take exception to this comment please explain your ineptness and absence of direct and on point answers to direct and on point questions. I have a number of those I could quote but it would be a waste of time. Too bad zero stars rating is not an option.

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northstarfoundation 07/25/2013

I am not surprised to find you agree with RichL3399, as you are one at the same poster, trying to spoil what is an amazing reputation North Star has for both safety as well as effectiveness in this emerging field. You volunteered with us to be a puppy raiser, but not out of the kindness of your heart, as most North Star puppy raisers do, but for a profit motive, as you wanted to get into training service dogs as a new career and hoped I'd help you here...I should have known this, as you were the first puppy raiser out of hundreds I've worked with to inquire if you could stay with us for several days to learn about puppy raising...when I told you this would not be necessary, as puppy raising is a relatively simple thing to do and we don't entertain overnight guests at North Star, this was the first disagreement we had, which were followed by others related to the sweet pup you were raising. You claimed this pup, North Star's Lucy, was fearful, but when we received her back we found we were right in our initial evaluation that North Star's Lucy was a sensitive dog, as all North Star dogs are, but brave enough for public access and a working role with a child; in fact, since that day that Lucy was returned she has been in our training program and did beautifully; she was just placed with a child in Texas and is doing very well in the long horned state. I wish you luck in your career, "Commonexp," but hope you stay far away from families and children, as you hurt the family you were working for by upsetting the balance of trust and forward motion that we rely on in our work. Fortunately Lucy's first family is still on our waiting list and about to be served again, this time without your participation, and I know we will be successful the next time around. Your post is full of lies, such as we deliver our pups in our basement...just look at our You Tube page and see how well we take care of our pups...look at our recent 5th generation of a a golden line we've cultivated at North Star: Molly delivered her pups in my bedroom rather than the whelping box we set up in our kitchen, as it was in the middle of a heat wave and my bedroom was the only air conditioned room in the house and I wanted Molly and the pups to be comfortable...I should send you the bill for cleaning my bedroom carpet, just so you can pay a small fine for your dishonesty, but I believe in karma and know you will receive what you have coming as you've hurt a child you were supposed to help. In my book, this is a terrible thing, and although I am not the one to make you understand this, still, I hope you read these words and open your mind just a sliver to learn how to focus on others besides yourself. Patty Dobbs Gross Executive Director North Star Foundation

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northstarfoundation 07/25/2013

Here's the link to our You Tube page to learn more about how we raise our North Star pups: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=northstarvid

12

Client Served

Rating: 1

Our NS dog was for our son with Aspergers. The dog was diagnosed with Epilepsy and Diabetes at 1 year old. North Star never paid for the first year of routine vet bills (per the contract), didn't pay the bill for our dog's specialist evaluation at 1 year and absolved themselves of anything to do with our dog, our son and our situation. $5,000 is A LOT of money to pay and have an organization have no responsibility for the outcome. NS refused to supply us with another dog, refused to pay any bills, and stopped replying to emails. Look elsewhere for help and have a lawyer if you go with NS.

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northstarfoundation 12/11/2012

There are many inaccuracies in this "review," most of which are easy to prove...one is that we at North Star never paid for Moxie's training and vetting for her first year of life...this is untrue and I have all the cancelled checks in case anyone wants proof. Next, Moxie is an extremely well bred dog that has zero history of diabetes or seizures in her carefully bred line. Her trouble with seizures and diabetes began after she ingested FOUR brownies, and as chocolate is poisonous to dogs this is where I (as well as Moxie's vet) trace to the beginning of her seizures/epilepsy. It is the vet bills relating to this "indiscriminate eating" that we didn't cover, but we did cover the bill to have Moxie's hips cleared as one of the complaints Natalie had was that Moxie had hip dysplasia, which she does not as proved the the x ray they took of her hips at Texas A & M. Here are the words from Texas A & M's report on Moxie, followed by Natalie's own words of how well this placement was doing before Moxie ate the brownies (Moxie also ate part of a plant that caused her to "shake" and Texas A & M notes Moxie's history of "indiscriminate eating.") We do not have the funds and nor is it in our contract to cover vetting for dogs that suffer illness or disability based on indiscriminate eating; our contract is clear we will only cover routine vetting for our dogs' first year, unless a vet determines the cause of the disability is genetically based. This clearly is not the case here, and although I personally like this family very much, I can not take responsibility for what happened when Moxie ate the brownies and perhaps poisonous bush...either one of these documented incidents could have caused the resulting diabetes/seizures. I am not taking any steps to take Moxie away, but cannot certify her as a North Star dog due to her seizures and the necessary medications she must now take to prevent them. I am happy Natalie and her son clearly love Moxie and have no complaints on her end save her seizures/diabetes, and I hope and trust she is working well with Natalie's son inside their home. What happened was clearly an accident, but one where we cannot and will not take financial responsibility for; due to the fact that Natalie won't take any responsibility for what happened with Moxie we will not be making any new placements with her as I would be afraid of history repeating itself, but I do wish her and Moxie well, as I continue to care about Natalie's son and as I understand that he does love Moxie, my hope that at least something positive is coming from this placement. REPORT FROM TEXAS A & M UNIVERSITY ON NORTH STAR MOXIE "About 10 days ago, Moxie ate a small portion of brownie. Later that night, noticed that Moxie was polyuric, polydipsic, and began vomiting her water. She brought Moxie in to Dr. Kemble the following morning, where Moxie was diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis and pancreatitis. Moxie has since been on 12U of NPH every 12 hours and has not had any further issues with polyuria or polydipsia. She has also been on amoxicillin every 12 hours for her pancreatitis. This past Monday, Moxie was not given her evening dose of insulin to see if her diabetes had resolved after the treatment of her pancreatitis. Her blood glucose was 150 in the morning, and after missing her PM dose, was 326 with signs of polyuria and polydipsia. Her normal insulin regime was then resumed. Moxie is an indoor dog that has a cat as a housemate. She is current on heartworm prevention, and up until the beginning of this month, has only had a medical history of ear infections. She eats Royal Canin Gastrointestinal formula twice a day. Other than the medical issues stated above, Moxie is doing well at home (eating, drinking, defecating, and urinating normally)." From: "Natalie Sent: Saturday, February 26, 2011 12:33 PM To: "Patricia Gross" Subject: Moxie Good Morning Patty: Moxie is doing wonderfully. She is learning quickly and potty training issues are under control for the most part. I have a couple concerns - Paulie is increasingly frustrated with Moxie living away from us and is saying that she is not his dog since she doesn't live with us. The best bonding time they have is at night during the sleepovers - this is when Moxie is most apt to snuggle and she enjoys a treat on Paulie's bed. We would obviously have more of this time if she were with us full time. As a family I think we are ready for Moxie to live with us full time if you think it is the right time "big picture." It would give me greater opportunities for training during the day and more bonding times for Paulie. Kim is a FANTASTIC puppy raiser and I would love to keep her on as a puppy Aunt if possible :) If you think it is too soon or these issues are minor in the big scheme of things i understand. Natalie= From: "Natalie Sent: Thursday, April 07, 2011 9:15 AM To: "Patricia Gross" Subject: Re: Moxie > Patty: > Paulie and Moxie are doing well. He likes to have her in public but she is getting too big for him to control. Under adult supervision she does great but she still needs a lot of verbal prompts. So I let him take her to show her off when he wants to and I generally lead her through stores, restaurants, etc. Paulie likes to have Moxie in is room at bedtime and she sleeps in her crate next to his bed all night without any problems. He feeds her all her meals. She will go and nudge him in the morning to get him moving if he doesn't move to the food bowl right away. She sits patiently and waits for him to say "release" before eating. She is a WONDERFUL dog. Definitely still a puppy! She has her puppy moments - eating a hamburger out of Nate's hands (gently of course), we are still working on hopping (not quite jumping up anymore), and general mouthiness. But making great progress. She is a joy. From: "Natalie Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2011 1:02 PM To: "Patricia Gross" Subject: Moxie > Hi Patty: > Here are some photos of Moxie and Paulie at our friends river house. Moxie is a fish! She was in the water at Paulie's side the entire time - it was wonderful. She is such a blessing. > > Natalie From: "Natalie Sutto" Sent: Friday, December 23, 2011 8:41 AM To: "Patricia Gross" Subject: Re: Moxie > Patty: > Next week will be great for me to take Moxie to A&M. > > Moxie only ate 4 little 1in by 1in brownies - that is all that was cut and she licked the top. My husband threw out the rest of the pan. > I will cover Dr. Kemble's bills. > > Natalie > On Dec 22, 2011, at 4:05 PM, Patricia Gross wrote: > >> Hi Natalie, >> >> I finally touched base with Dr. Kemble...she is very nice. >> >> She thinks the pan of brownies that Moxie ate is responsible for the diabetes/pancreatitis stuff as her bloodwork from the week before was normal; chocolate is actually poisonous to dogs and this may solve part of the mystery... >> >> She also said she wanted to switch Moxie from Phenobarbitol to a different medication due to her sleepiness, but I don't want this to happen with her at your home due to the incident you described of Moxie snapping when she was seizing...I can't take the chance that Paulie will be scared or hurt if this happens again, so what I'd like to propose is to slowly wean her off the pheno over the weekend and have you take her to Texas A & M early next week to have a second opinion regarding the seizures before we continue to give her monthly medication for these. My vet of a decade plus here in Bolton CT is also going to take a look at her records to see if there is something Dr. Kemble might be missing...I do need to ask if Moxie had any injuries in the time you've had her, including any head injuries but also any incidents that might be relevant to the review that will be taking place in the coming week... >> >> Please let me know if you think these plans sound ok with you, and what day you can take her to Texas A & M next week. >> >> Regarding finances, we will cover the hip dysplasia should they confirm this at Texas A & M, and also cover Texas A & M's bills; you will need to cover the bills from Dr. Kemble related to the appointment after the brownie eating including the bloodwork and any treatments resulting from this episode, OK? >> >> Please let me know your thoughts... >> >> ~ Patty >> From: "Natalie Sent: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 9:07 AM To: "Patricia Gross" Subject: Re: Moxie > Patty: > Any word on an appointment? This week is best since it is a 3 hour drive each way and the boys are off school this week. Dr. Kemble has forwarded all info and spoken with T A&M. > > I am cc-ing Malinda, our trainer so that you may dialogue with her about any questions you may have. > > Dr. Kemble has been a great partner in caring for Moxie the entire time we've had her. Any incidences are documented in her chart. She nibbled on one of our bushes a while back and vomited, had a play date and later in the day started shaking - it is all in her chart. If anything, I call Dr. Kemble too often! > > I look forward to hearing the date and time of Moxie's appointment. > > Natalie From: Natalie Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 3:22 PM To: Patricia Gross Subject: Fwd: Moxie's Discharge Instructions Patty: Attached is Moxie's report from Texas A&M. I believe we are now at a point where we need to discuss next steps. Moxie will definitely require lifelong medical care to include but not limited to anti seizure medicine, insulin and a special diet. Because our son Paulie is so attached to her we feel it is in his best interest to keep Moxie and that it would be extremely damaging to disrupt the bond that they've formed. So we request a lump sum financial assistance for Moxie's future care of $2500. Her medical bills for December alone were over $600. We would take full responsibility for Moxie's future care. Natalie

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was searching the internet for a non-profit that would help my daughter get a service dog. She is 5 years old and has been diagnosed with autism. We feel like there is a lot of hope for our daughter, if only things would fall into place for her. She is non-verbal, but passionately speaks her own language. It's this passion and drive that we love in her! I found North Star's website and it stood out to me. Patty's ideas about service dog placements fascinated me because they are unique. We absolutely did not want a service dog that had been trained with convicts in a prison. We also did not want to wait 2-3 years for a placement. Precious time would have passed in our daughter's life. I contacted Patty and eventually she got back to me. I spoke to her for quite some time in a phone call and I really felt that she understood how badly we want to help our daughter. We were willing to do whatever it took to help her get a dog, but we couldn't do it on our own. Amazingly, we were able to to raise the $5,000 (our half of the cost) through very generous friends and coworkers. A couple months later, we met Buzz at the airport. Buzz is a gorgeous Labradoodle. He is incredibly sweet and well trained. At this point in our lives we do not own a home with a yard, so raising a puppy would have been very difficult. Buzz came with advanced training because he is 2 years old. Patty connected us to CaliPals, which is an organization that raises service dogs and trained pets. Patty has paid for everything she said she would and we have never felt neglected. Our daughter loves Buzz and calls him "Bunny." She changes her "z's" to "n's." Buzz has helped her make friends with a set of triplets. She has started talking more and is even making great strides in writing. He hasn't magically fixed her, but that's not what we expected. I think he makes her feel safe. He follows all of us around our home and likes to lay in our laps. He has made all of us so happy. He is like our second child. It's hard to have a bad day when we see Buzzy and our daughter playing quietly together. I think we made a very good choice to go through North Star. I would highly recommend working with Patty.

Judy S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the privilege of being a North Star volunteer puppy raiser for almost five years. During that time I've raised/ co-raised nine puppies.
I have been able to see first hand the amazing benefits that these puppies bring to their children and their families. Receiving a puppy from North Star provides the whole family an opportunity to work together, with North Star 's help, to make a better life for their child.

North Star believes in placing the assistance dog with the child as early as possible so that the child and puppy can form an early bond. Patty does everything possible to ensure a successful placement before, during and after the pup is placed with the family.

North Star brings people together in so many ways. Each puppy influences so many people.

North Star provides puppy raisers with the training and support necessary for a positive volunteer experience. North Star volunteers are very dedicated and work well together providing back up for each other, exhanging ideas and sometimes sharing the puppy raising.

During the past five years my mom had to go to a nursing home. I've been able to take my own North Star Therapy dog, Lola, and many of the puppies to visit. These visits provide the pups with early socialization in public and at the same time provide the nursing home residents, staff and families the pleasure of spending some time with a puppy. Lola is my constant companion and the most wonderful Therapy Dog ever!!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the privilege of being a North Star volunteer puppy raiser for almost four years. During that time I've raised/ co-raised eight puppies.

Two of these dogs are working as Therapy Dogs doing nursing home visits and school visits. The other six have been placed with children with developmental disabilities.

North Star believes in placing the assistance dog with the child as early as possible so that the child and puppy can form an early bond. Whenever possible, the puppy raiser and the family work together to ensure that the puppy has the best upbringing to suit that particular child.

I've met wonderful families (in person and via email) and become more aware of the challenges they and their children face. I've been able to see first hand the positive effects a North Star dog has on the child and family right from the start.

North Star brings people together in so many ways. Each puppy influences so many people.

North Star provides puppy raisers with the training and support necessary for a positive volunteer experience. North Star volunteers are very dedicated and work well together providing back up for each other, exhanging ideas and sometimes sharing the puppy raising.

During the past four years my mom had to leave her home and go to live in a nursing home. I've been able to take the puppies to visit her. These visits provide the pups with early socialization in public and at the same time provide the nursing home residents, staff and families the pleasure of spending some time with a puppy. Bringing a puppy along makes everything better!!

Anne41

Client Served

Rating: 5

Working with Patty and Ron and North Star Foundation has been an incredible experience for our whole family. Our youngest son Matthew, who is now 12 years old, has aspergers and retinitis pigmentosa. He is legally blind and only has 15 degrees of central vision; no peripheral vision. We thought Matthew would really benefit from having a North Star dog. The main thing is that we needed a dog, who might get stepped on occasionally or tripped over, that wouldn't take it personally and would still love him and want to be around him to play. Well, we got Nellie from North Star Foundation in Februray of 2010. She is a calm, loving yellow lab that gives Matthew and our family all the love we need. And, we love her back. Nellie is the perfect addtion to our family!

Ray N.

Client Served

Rating: 5

North Star Foundation assisted us in acquiring a therapy dog for our son who has autism. They were very easy to work with and we have had a wonderful experience integrating a service dog into our home. The dog has assisted our son by decreasing stress and providing emotional support, but he also is learning to track and perform other tasks to assist our son.

Meta P.

Client Served

Rating: 5

North Star foundation changed my family's life!!! My son has autism and we received Bailey our therapy dog when my son was 8. She brought him back once when he wandered off and stopped him from wandering once too. Priceless! Along with the unconditional love she gives all of us, the peace of mind she creates in our home and her beautiful sole our lives have been forever blessed. Words can not express what Bailey means to us and how wonderful North Star Foundation is!!!

Deane M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our relationship with North Star began in 2008; it was a few months after our son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (on the autism spectrum). Patty believed adding a North Star dog to our family would help our son with his social and emotional challenges. How right she was! We added Radar to our family and the changes started to happen. It was subtle at first. Some eye contact here, a brief word to strangers who approached us while out in public there. Then one day, without prompting, our son took the lead in speaking to strangers who approached. Despite me backing off a few yards away, he continued to speak to these ladies on his own for more than ten minutes. How far he's come! My initial goal with out North Star dog placement was for our son to "live in the moment"; to notice the world around him. This goal was met years ago and our placement has far exceeded our expectations. I have, on several occasions, recommended North Star to people for a variety of reasons. I keep a stack of North Star pamphlets at home and have distributed them when I've felt someone might benefit from their services.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

We began our relationship with Patty and North Star in early 2008. As a Mom of a child with Asperger's, I hoped adding a North Star dog to our family would help our son see the world around him; to live in the moment. Having Radar join our family has done that and so much more! This placement has exceeded my expectations in so many ways. Just recently, not only did Jason (our son with AS) talk to strangers about what his dog provides for him but he continued to speak to the strangers despite me walking away. This was a huge step forward and not something that had ever happened. Having Radar there gives Jason a certain level of confidence. He knows people find his dog really cool and Jason doesn't miss an opportunity to educate the public! We have recently become even more involved with Patty and North Star by puppy-raising. It was a wonderful learning experience and a labor of love. Patty is always available to her families (both those who have received dogs and those raising puppies for other families) as a valuable resource and wealth of information. She personally answered my many questions without ever making feel inadequate. This work North Star is doing is so important. I only wish more rescources were available to them; they could help so many more families like ours!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I cannot tell you how much Patty and the North Star Foundation has changed our lives for the better. There is nothing like a friendly, polite, well trained North Star dog to bring peace to a family with autism.

Our dog, Sam, has brought so much joy and hope to our family. Sam is so calm and caring and her demenor really brings a lot to our home. Her presence just completes our family in such a special way.

Please consider donating to North Star so that more children and families can be blessed as we have been.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our journey with North Star began in May 2010. Patty has been a real pleasure to work with. She has been so caring, thoughtful and helpful throughout the whole process. She selected the most amazing yellow lab, Rudy for our son, John who has PDD-NOS. Does Patty know how to pick those pups!!! Rudy is an amazing boy. He brings so much love and calmness to our family. I truly can say that we are a happier family now. Our son, John loves his dog so much. They adore each other. Rudy enjoys watching John play with his cars and trains and every now and them will try and join in the play! Since Rudy's arrival, John is talking so much more and loves to tell everyone that this is his dog Rudy. He wants to take Rudy everywhere with him. John looks forward to having his buddy watch him get on the bus and greet him with lots of kisses when he returns home from school.

I am always quick to tell people that North Star is a wonderful organization to work with. The trainers and puppy raisers are so nice and great to work with. I am proud to say that they were all very helpful in the training of our Rudy. He just passed his CGC and I could not have done it without there help and support.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

As a long time raiser of service dogs, I am very familiar with the benefit that a dog can provide to a person with disabilities. Several years ago, I came across North Star Foundation, an organization which provides service dogs to children with Autism. I have trained 3 dogs for this organization and I am continually amazed at the impact that these dogs have on the children and families. Each family has different needs and requirements but the dogs always adapt. Children that normally run off stay with the dog because of the bond that has been created and a concern as to what would happen to the dog if they wandered off. These well trained dogs not only assist in this manner but they improve the social skills of the child. Many autistic children have problems verbalizing yet by learning the dog's commands and vocalizing these commands to the dog, the child becomes more confident in their communication skills. This is a small organization but they have a huge impact on many lives not only in the United States but worldwide by serving the needs of group which are often overlooked by the larger service dog organizations.

Lisa M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a Certified Dog Trainer hired by the North Star Foundation. I had the privilege of working with a wonderful family and their son. It was my first hands on experience with autism so I was a little nervous. More of making the little boy afraid or uncomfortable. It was amazing how much information I was given between Patty Gross and the family I worked with. My job was easy compared to the struggles this family went through on different levels. Watching as the dog, Bach, took care of the mom was a huge impact on my training experience. Bach would pick up on her needs as well as the child's.
There were two moments I specifically remember when working with Bach and his family. One was the first time the little boy made eye contact with me and hugged me. From what I gathered, it was rare and well, I appreciated being the rarity.
The second moment was when we were trying to help with the little boy's bedtime schedule. I had recommended Bach do what the little boy do, including brushing his teeth! It was during this week that the mom had spoken with me and said, "---- slept in his room for the first time since he was born." The whole night. For me, I just was ecstatic to be a part of something so BIG. We as "normal" everyday people take so much for granted and through this experience as with others, my appreciation grows. I loved being part of the therapy with this family. I loved being educated on autism and it has really helped me personally since my nephew and niece have been diagnosed in the passed year with autism.
There is a relief when I read success stories of clients matched with these dogs. The dogs are like new pair of legs or arms for physically disabled people. Meaning, it is freedom and independence. Not only for the child, but for the parents. Simple things that we take for granted are difficult for these parents and with just a simple addition of a puppy that is trained to assist... It is a huge difference. I have seen transformation in different ways and it is rewarding for me to be a part of that. The North Star Foundation is a gift to these families. I am so proud to be a part of it. To see lives change. Even mine.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our incredible journey of working with North Star began almost 3 years ago when I read about North Star in the Council for Exceptional Children newsletter. If there was ever a life-changing moment, that was one. In my soul, I knew that our daughter could benefit from a deep and meaningful relationship with the kinds of dogs that were described in the article. What I didn't know, at that time, was the extent of thought, dedication, caring, wisdom, and commitment that Patty's brings to North Star s a foundation, the dogs, and the families with whom she works. I called her, she listened. And then she asked thoughtful and challenging questions. In fact, she talked with me on the phone and via email a number of times, getting to know us, getting to know our daughter Lily. We applied for a North Star dog and on a day when it seemed that every member of "the village" that was helping to raise Lily had let us down, there was a message on our voicemail: "I am bringing Lily a puppy." Patty's care and involvement continued through the birth and puppy testing of Rosie's litter, to the puppies' socialization before she got to us, to the trip to our home in California, to the sensitive and excellent trainer we were assigned and throughout the two and a half years we have had our North Star dog, Popsicle. North Star, Patty, and Popsicle have never let us down but instead are a constant and invaluable gift. I believe our daughter has learned to experience love and empathy in meaningful, healthy, and rewarding ways. She has become more empathetic, solid and strong. She has a growing sense of her own self-worth amidst the tumultuous journey of a childhood confused by prenatal toxins and critically high stress. And a growing sense of competency as she helps groom, train, and take care of Popsicle. Patty and North Star are a part of our lives and our family. We could not ask for more.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I learned about North Star Foundation from a former client. She spoke so highly of the organization that we decided to look into the resource for ourselves. From the start Patty has been friendly, and consistently available to answer our questions, even when we ask them more than once. We wanted an emotional and social support for our 9-year old son and after speaking with Patty it became clear that a North Star dog would be perfect for our family. She helped us to find a hypo-allergenic breed and even took into account that we live in a small apartment when finding the perfect kind of dog for us. Our dog Junior has recently come home and Patty has been invaluable as a resource and s support. She is going to work with a trainer in our area to ensure that we have the best experience training Junior for our needs. We have been in weekly contact with her and are comfortable that although we have received our dog, Patty is still there for us. We are looking forward to all the gifts that Junior will bring to our family and can't thank Patty and North Star Dog Foundation enough.

Lee M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our family received our dog, Stitch, through North Star in 2005. He was trained to work with our two sons who were 5 and 8 at the time. Patty from North Star worked with us to set goals for the placement, match the personality of the puppy to our sons, and help us prepare the boys for the dog. She provided follow up assistance whenever it was needed. Stitch has helped our sons improve their social and communication skills.

Nancy S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

North Star placed a dog with our son, who has high functioning Aspergers. From the first day this has made a dramatic difference in Dan's life. North Star did a wonderful job of matching an appropriate dog with our son, and of training and follow-up. We are very grateful to them, and would highly recommend them.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Originally trained as a dancer & now as a nurse, I have also worked as a volunteer for St. Hubert's Paws for People program visiting children & the elderly in hospitals & nursing homes with my own dogs.

My two dogs always remind me of the unconditional love that NorthStar dogs can bring & working with puppies in their new homes has let me experience how that unconditional love can translate into a better connection for autistic children with their family & everyone else they interact with.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

As a professional trainer and canine behavior specialit, I have worked with NorthStar Foundation for a number of years. The staff at NorthStar are dedicated to training dogs and placing them into homes with children with autism. This is a wonderful cause. I have seen children utter their first words because of contact with their service dogs. I have seen children reach out to others in ways they never have before because of the presence of these wonderful dogs.

Dessi M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with North Star through college and I had an amazing experience. Patty taught me a lot about autism and assistant dogs, and every week was a new lesson. I loved taking Angel back to the UConn campus and letting everyone see her. She was a wonderful dog. I walked dogs as a side job as well, but I looked more forward to walking Angel for free than I did walking a dog for money. Every Wednesday I would be so happy to finally go see Angel and the other pups, it literally made my week. This foundation is awesome in its objectives and in what it has accomplished. Patty is a great person who really cares and is passionate about North Star. I hope to keep ties with her for a long time to come. I know I have helped North Star by volunteering, but North Star has also helped me just the same.

Eileen W.

Client Served

Rating: 5

In 2010 I contacted North Star to apply to receive a service dog for my autistic son. I was overwhelmed at the specific attention that was paid to our case, and the speed at which a dog was provided. Patty at North Star works harder on quality than quantity and selects her placements very carefully. In our case as we had need of a poodle due to allergies, we lucked out as many others ask for Goldens and Labs, but a poodle happened to be just born recently when we called.

I WISH EVERYONE'S PET COUDL BE A DOG FROM NORTH STAR. The training that Lily came with even at 10 months old was remarkable, I never knew a dog could be so well behaved and calm. The changes though in my son are priceless. My son who has never bear hugged me in his life, but rather, rigidly accepts hugs, plows into Lily each day for deep pressure hugs. He whispers concerns and love into her ears that shock me. I didn't honestly know that my son had it in him! Lily has opened up a window into my son. In public the opportunities that Lily provides to increase communication is almost 100 percent from what it use to be. She is in every sense a walking therapy tool for my son. In fact we use her often at our weekly horse therapy in place of the horses and work out OT and speech situations using her. This trains my husband and I as parents to then continue that therapy in our homes, eventually eliminating the need for that outside therapy and simply using Lily in scenarios to work with our son in OT and speech and pragmatic language.

There are plenty of service dog agencies that are terrific I’m sure, but none so perfect and affordable as North Star. For a parent of autism who is already taxed in affording therapy and evaluation (I have 2 autistic sons) I consider this very important. I have run into so many people in the street who tell me they briefly looked into service animals but the 30 k cost drove them away. At a mere 5 k North Star surpasses what others can not grasp. The simplicity of letting the younger dog in the home to increase important bonding allows for this reduction of cost, as well as North Stars own diligence in fundraising much of the cost for their client. I believe that the bonding in puppy years is essential in regards children with autism and other special needs, and is not at all difficult. You don’t get handed some unruly puppy, at 10 months old our Lily didn’t dream of jumping up on a child; she sat patiently, knew how to calm down on command and understood all basic commands. If you were to offer me a 2 year old trained dog now from another agency at 30k, I wouldn’t take it. I as a parent have also found it very enjoyable and I would say calming and therapeutic for myself to be given a practically finished masterpiece in which I can add my own final touches with the help of North Stars paid trainers that they hire locally to continue you through the process. I never thought I would enjoy the classes and training, which are not overly consuming of your time as the dog is already so well trained, but enough to give you as a parent a real understanding of how to control your dog. It’s given me personally a new interest as well, Lily has served and is serving our whole family and she is not even 2 yet.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I first contacted the North Star Foundation a little over a year ago to inquire about getting my son, affected by autism, a therapy dog. We weren't just added to a list and sent a form letter. My family was handled with the upmost respect and patience. I found that North Star was a relationship-based foundation. They are committed to making sure that child, dog and family establish a bond before, during and after placement. We were given ample opportunity to visit with our puppy before placement. This personalized commitment assures that the special needs child and dog are tempermentally suited for each other and that the child will get the maximum benefit from his therapy dog. I couldn't be happier about our placement and look forward to working with North Star as we settle in with our puppy.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am an animal behavior consultant involved in a partnership with North Star Foundation and a Veterans Administration program in Washington state to train and place emotional assistance dogs with veterans who have PTSD, traumatic brain injuries or other mental or emotional wounds. North Star Foundation raises and provides training for the outstanding canines involved in this project, who then arrive in the Seattle area for more advanced public access training with me. The North Star dogs are exceptional for this type of team work because of their sensitive and reliable nature. North Star is an enthusiastic and valued member of this effort to support veteran reintegration into their community.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

i was looking for information on training a puppy to help my son who has high functioning asperger's syndrome. the North Star Foundation has been more than helpful to me. they returned my email almost immediately and had a large amount of helpful information and resources. i would recommend them to anyone looking for help in finding or training a therapy dog.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son received his North Star dog, Hero, in October of 2009 when he was 11 years old. He is a child with autism and had serious problems with stress, behavior, and health problems. He had been out of school for over 2 years & had to return with an aide and full time help in our home.

Life is different now that he has his North Star dog. He is off of his medications and rarely ill. He is in a regular classroom without any extra help at school or at home. He has learned to read and write. His melt downs that once were tallied daily happen once or trice a month. Most importantly he has made friends and is happy from the moment Hero wakes him up in the morning until they lay their heads down at night. His quality of life has improved beyond words. It has been a priceless experience. It is very expensive to raise a child with autism the well bread and trained assistance dogs have so much to offer a child. Please consider donating to the North Star Foundation so they can help this next decades struggling children become contributing members of society. The economy is struggling and so our are small but hard working nonprofits but today's children still need help. If you love happy health children and dogs you will love North Star.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was asked to help teach some tricks and special behaviors to two lovely Golden Retrievers (Angel and Molly) who were bred to be placed with families with children with special needs, in particular, those on the Autism spectrum. These dogs and their foster "mom" were such a pleasure to work with, and the founder of the organization was so helpful and supportive--it made the whole experience delightful. I spent many hours working with the dogs and the foster mom, and we saw so much learning and progress on the part of the dogs. I know these dogs will be bringing so much joy and support to people...it gives me great pleasure to know I have been a small part of that process.

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I first saw the information on the internet about NorthStar, I was a little puzzled about how a dog could help out in a house that had an autistic child living in it. There is litttle doubt that it is a different journey, that takes a lot of patience, understanding and hard work to navigate. I took it upon myself to find out about North Star as my wife had seen Patty on a talk show with a golden retriever that had been placed with an autistic boy. Well we gave it a shot, and we have been very fortunate to have had Buddy come into our lives. He had a great effect on John, as he fulfilled a role of companion that could not be filled by another child. Buddy also became an part of our family, forging a relationship with each of us. John has been living in a residential facility for autistic children for over a year. My wife and I go up to visit him often and of course we take Buddy. When John and Buddy see each other, there is a feeling that distance or time cannot overcome. They are BFF and there is no need for John to vocalize with his limited speech what Buddy means to him. You just have to look at his eyes.
There is no doubt that North Star helped us with its program. There are no guarantees in life that a service dog will help a child with autism or other emotional problems. There is however, always the chance that some good will come. That chance is always worth taking.

1 Alvi

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellow at the Yale Child Study Center. I met Patty and The North Star Foundation through a colleague. I adopted a dog from Patty, to train as a therapy dog for my patients. There is a lot of medical literature on the benefits of a therapy dog. When it comes to therapy dogs North Star is the best. North Star Foundation’s work is incredibly important. I recommended North Star Foundation without any reservations.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The dog we got from Northstar has made an amazing difference in the life of our son Dan, who has Asperger's. Tauqua has helped Dan in so many ways, serving as best friend, social intermediary, sleeping companion (pre-Tauqua, Dan could not fall asleep without a parent in the room. Now...no problem), and giving Dan a sense of responsibility that he has embraced. We can't say enough good things about Northstar and Patty Gross.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

North Star and Patty are doing a wonderful service.As a grandmother to a wonderfully prescious autisic grandson I know some of the struggles that they go through.The work that everyone does with these children and getting these wonderful dogs to them is opening a new world to the children and the families.Bless you Patty and everyone that is connected to North Star.

Anne G.

Client Served

Rating: 4

My son Zach was matched with Koda, a NorthStar dog. We are convinced she is an angel! She watches over her boy all day long during his ABA therapy. In turn, Zach has shown us so much pride in feeding his dog and giving her simple commands. They are a real team and the best of friends. Thank you NorthStar!

JudyKay K.

Donor

Rating: 5

North Star is a wonderful Foundation, I was fortunate to donate a pup for a child with autism, she's made a difference in his life and the family's life, I am very proud to be associated with North Star and Patty. Everyone should read Patty's book for a better understanding of children with autism and their special needs.

Alisa R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a puppy raiser for Northstar for 6 years. What they do is amazing and it's been nothing but a pleasure to help raise their pups. It makes me so happy when they move on to their family, knowing that they will make a huge different in a childs life. Patty is an incredible person with such a huge heart.

1 Caitlin A.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

About 7 years ago, I first heard about North Star. As a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with kids on the autism spectrum and someone who has worked with various service dog organizations as a puppy raiser, it was a perfect fit and I was able to raise a puppy for a child with autism! I was very, very impressed with all North Star does for the families it works with.

Cathleen O.

Client Served

Rating: 5

North Star Foundation is a non profit organization that provides service dogs to children with special needs. Autism, Downs Syndrome, and children facing emotional challenges are just a few of the special kids North Star helps.

Our family has seven children from 1 year old to 13 years old. Two of these children have Autism spectrum disorders and Epilepsy. This dog is specifically to work with our younger daughter. But by giving the older daughter a specific task (grooming), we are training her in a marketable job skill, allowing her to learn to train the dog, and giving her the opportunity to work with an animal that loves her unconditionally. This is vital, as the stresses of the day build up and dogs help release that tension without having to be verbally communicated to!

Many service dog organizations would not place a highly trained service dog with our family due to our large number of children and the degree of disabilities in our family. The dogs most organizations place have been taught 40 or 50 skills, several of them would go to waste on our physically typical children with developmental disabilities. North Star is unique in that they have worked with us to provide a dog that will be both a service dog to our 8 year old, but will also be tolerant of the other children.

The folks at North Star work long and hard to ensure that the special needs of each particular family are met. They talked us through raising funds (which was MUCH easier than I had expected!) what to expect during the process, how to prepare for the arrival and training of the dog. They provide a trainer to work with each family. This is an integral part of the service North Star provides. They take into consideration the specific needs of each child, place the right temperament puppy with the family and then train the dog towards those needs. For example, our family has many small children. The right dog for us needed to be extremely docile, but able to handle a lot of attention. One of my child's special talents is throwing things, so they have made sure to provide us with a dog that likes to play fetch. She is in need of a dog that will patiently weather the sometimes loud tantrums. The trainer works with each family (and child) to see that the dog gets the specialized training that it needs.

North Star Foundation understands children with special needs. We are blessed that they understand the kinds of things that will help children with Autism as they struggle through the complexities of growing up with social and communication difficulties. They train their dogs to be a sort of a 'golden bridge' to society.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son, Jake, has severe autism and was matched with North Star dog, Nomar, at the age of 8. He is now 16, and they are the best of friends. Nomar has been the star of Jake's typed stories, a constant comfort when siblings separate from Jake, a bridge during play dates with other children, and a protector when Jake has been lost. Now, our family has opened a school for children with autism, The I.N.S.P.I.R.E. School for Autism, and Nomar is beloved by all of the children there, where he serves as a transition tool new children, and a reward, comfort and playmate for all.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son, Jack, was diagnosed with high functioning autism at the age of 3. He was minimally verbal and had much difficulty with social interactions and activities. We spent a great deal of time with speech therapy and occupational therapy to help him speak and function better independently. Jack loves animals, so when we heard that there were organizations like North Star that provide autism service dogs, we were sold. We started the application process in early 2007 and received our beautiful Sassy in March of 2008. Patty Dobbs Gross was an amazing resource and great help to us. Sassy is approaching her 4th birthday and year with us and we couldn't imagine life without her. She serves primarly as Jack's companion as he does not have friends his own age like a 9 year old would. She helps him calm down when he has tantrums and she also helps him with his sensory issues by sleeping with him at night. She also has a wonderful relationship with our other 3 children, Vanessa (11), Josie (5) and Colette (3) and is amazingly sweet with them as well. We are eternally thankful for everything Patty and North Star has done for Jack and our family. They are an inspiration to the autism community.