As you may know, Ace is an only child who faces the daily challenges of living with autism, but what you may NOT know is that he was just recently cleared for the placement of a service dog...bred and trained by the North Star Foundation, to serve as a therapeutic tool to help us to meet his social, emotional and educational goals.
Ace craves companionship, and absolutely thrives on positive reinforcement. There isn’t a better “tool” out there for him than one he can love, and be loved unconditionally by in return! We will get on North Star’s waiting list as soon as our $5,000 is raised, which is only half the true cost of a North Star therapeutic placement...the rest of the funds, $2,500, is to support half the cost of the second year of our North Star dog's life in order to receive full public access with Ace's North Star dog, which takes an additional year of training .
The cost of a North Star placement reflects the quality of the breeding of North Star dogs. It also reflects the intensive and specific training and socialization each North Star dog receives, along with the considerable services they provide. For the first year of the dog’s life, North Star pays for all necessary shots, medications for the prevention of fleas, ticks and heartworms, spaying/neutering, insurance, and food!
North Star also puts on educational programs in schools around the country, where many North Star pups are raised; here is a link to take you to a presentation given at a first grade classroom that raised North Star Buddy for his boy, David:
And here's a link to take you to a profile of a North Star dog that is successfully working with his boy on the spectrum in upstate NY:
The founder and executive director of North Star, Patty Dobbs Gross, is also a child psychologist with an MA in Educational Psychology, who believes knowing how to use the therapeutic tool of the North Star dog is key to our successful partnership by way of safety as well as effectiveness. This means we (the humans) receive lots of training too!
WHO IS ACE?
ACE IS 100% GENUINE! He is the axis of our world, and a barometer for our decision making.
He is a loving, lovable, silly, energetic, curious, determined, extremely sensitive, courageous, compassionate, resilient, and optimistic 6-year-old boy...who thinks quite literally, and learns highly visually!
Ace will be at the playground and stop in his tracks to let the girls go first, whether it be up a ladder, or down the slide. He says the same thing every single time...“It’s OK, you can go, it’s usually ladies first.“ Ace holds the door for girls, both old and young...and also for friends who use assistive equipment, such as wheelchairs and walkers.
He is his own little person, and not afraid to be his true self. He randomly went through a phase wearing fedoras. He loves the original "Ghostbusters", and wore a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man hat for almost an entire year! He has diverse taste in music...his favorite song is “Life is a Highway”, but not the original version, the one from Disney’s "Cars" soundtrack. He loves Black Sabbaths’ “Crazy Train”, and AC/DC’s “TNT”...but he also loves The Dreamers' “Believer”, and the entire soundtrack from the recent movie "Sing".
Right now, he’s into Legos, and he’s very, very good at them! In most activities, Ace struggles with imaginative play skills (and his level of rigidity within them)...but not when it comes to Legos! He tosses aside the instruction booklet and builds his own creations, which each come with its very own unique description and backstory. He’s most proud of “Christmas Firetruck Cargo Dog”, which comes equipped with moving ears, a firehose, a ladder, and a trailer hauling the presents!
WHO IS NORTH STAR?
North Star Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children with special needs, through the use of well-bred and trained assistance dogs. They have been incorporated for sixteen years, and have created over 275 North Star placements in homes of children who face social, emotional and educational challenges such as autism. Their nonprofit work with children was profiled by CBS Evening News, and you can learn more about North Star’s work by visiting their educational library.
HOW CAN A NORTH STAR DOG HELP ACE?
A picture is worth a thousand words, and a well crafted video ten fold more, so here is a link to take you to North Star's most recent kid/canine partnerships:
And here's a Nicklodean clip from an episode on working dogs that includes a North Star team and puppy raiser extraordinaire.
North Star dogs offer their children many benefits that include:
● Having his dog will help create opportunities for social interactions with peers, as well as others in the community...and, in turn, create valuable practice of social/ emotional skills! Ace is super-friendly, yet very sadly has no friends. He’s an only child, and he’s lonely…Ace has always enjoyed the company of other people, he just has no idea how to interact with them. Although Ace is verbal, he has a difficult time communicating his true intents and desires.
● Ace struggles with sensory processing, and can become suddenly overwhelmed at unpredictable moments. Having a dog there as a tool to self-soothe will very much help promote his independence!
● “The quality of understanding needed to interpret the environment and protect his/her partner is largely found in a dog’s genes,” but it’s not at all in Ace’s...he’s unaware of danger! If he’s ever too far “in the zone”, he could walk right out into the street at any time. Ace struggles mightily to predict “consequences”, and what may happen when you least expect it in everyday situations.
● COMPANIONSHIP!!!! Ace will develope a relationship that will provide him with a HUGE confidence boost, which is necessary to overcome the rejection he faces on a daily basis from his peers. He's acutely aware of the fact that he’s different, and he knows when he’s treated differently by others...it’s absolutely heartbreaking to see, as any parent can understand.
● Positive Reinforcement! Ace requires a lot of reinforcement, and he absolutely thrives when he has it! Having a dog will teach him responsibility, and give him a sense of purpose! When he does a really good job, he can feel some well-earned pride as a result. Positive reinforcement from within = INDEPENDENCE!
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
● PLEASE MAKE A TAX-FREE DONATION IN ANY AMOUNT to support the placement of Ace’s therapy dog. We are thankful for each and every dollar. We work 7 days a week to make ends meet, and we know how difficult it can be to come up with a few extra dollars. Your generosity is more than just appreciated, it is literally life changing! Your donation to the North Star Foundation will be applied directly to Ace’s placement, and should be received by October 3rd...so that we can drastically shorten the wait time for our pup.
● SHARE THIS ON YOUR FACEBOOK TIMELINE!
● Challenge 5 friends to share it on their timeline!
● SHARE WITH YOUR ENTIRE NETWORK!
If you decide to donate via check or money order, it should be made out to “North Star Foundation,” and then sent to the attention of:
Patty Dobbs Gross
20 Deerfield Lane
Storrs, CT 06268
Or, if you prefer, you could make an online donation on North Star’s website at: www.NorthStarDogs.com.
You can inform me personally of your donation, or inform Patty herself at [email redacted].
Either way, please know that your donation to North Star is considered tax deductible (EIN # 06-1589586; Connecticut charities # 0012811)...it is also greatly needed, as well as appreciated.
We are excited about the benefits Ace will receive with the placement of a North Star assistance dog, and we appreciate your support to help make this happen. We’ll certainly keep you informed of Ace’s (and his North Star dog’s) progress in the years to come!
Please feel free to contact me, Julie Mitchell, at [email redacted] or Patty Dobbs Gross at [email redacted] if you have any questions.
Thank you in advance for your support! :)
- Carol Parziale
- Gregg Paulhus
- Lanny Conner
- The Lakeville Animal Hospital
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