North Star was founded by Patty Dobbs Gross, whose son was diagnosed with autism over a quarter century ago. Dan is a graduate of the USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, and is now a working filmmaker with a wide circle of friends, varied interests, and a great sense of humor.  The assistance dog that he received at the age of eight does not get all the credit for Danny’s good path of development, but Madison did play a significant role in helping Danny to reach his social, emotional and educational goals in a healthy way.

North Star must turn away children due to the lack of available funding, and this is the reason “Pennies for Puppies/Change for Children” was developed. Having children gather up loose change to help support a cause creates a valuable learning opportunity for them, and also allows us to help more children who face challenges. Children who participate in this program have the pleasure of knowing exactly what their loose change will support, and we believe this is an excellent way to teach tolerance, as it’s through the eyes of a pup being trained to help children with conditions such as autism presents.

Patty would be on hand with a North Star pup to thank the children at the end of the Pennies for Puppies/Change for Children campaign, and a “Read to Me” program or other educational programming can be planned according to the specific school’s wishes. Patty received her MA in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut and has written a book, THE GOLDEN BRIDGE:  A Guide to Assistance Dogs for Children Challenged by Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities, (Purdue University Press/July 2006). A documentary about North Star’s work, THE BUDDY SYSTEM, will soon be released, and here is a clip where you can see Patty with first graders who raised a North Star pup named Buddy...

Please contact me at if you have any questions!


Patty Dobbs Gross
Founder & Executive Director
North Star Foundation
20 Deerfield Lane
Storrs, CT 06268
+1.860.423.0664 (home)

"We help children find their way..."


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