I didn’t realize when I bought this that a short story about Toby story is also in “Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul, What I Learned from the Dog”. In the “Chicken Soup” book, Toby was featured as a great therapy dog. With his help, people at the hospital were taught patience, assertiveness, and more. But “On Toby’s Terms” by Charmaine Hammond was about much more than just how Toby helped people at the hospital. Toby had some issues… some fairly severe behavior issues which the owners Charmaine and Christopher had to work through and eventually accept.
This is a joyous story. I love reading stories about dogs, especially real dogs who have made a real difference in people’s lives. Charmaine stated in her book that both she and her husband Christopher are better people because of Toby. But according to Toby’s story, they aren’t the only ones who were touched by this special dog.
Toby’s behavior issue was a severe form of separation anxiety. When Charmaine and Christopher left Toby alone for even a short time, they often came back to a house destroyed. he tore up closets, emptied bookshelves, and broke the lid on the toilet. Charmaine jokes about how many toilet lids they have to replace, but coming home to such a mess was not funny.
Charmaine and Chris tried everything they could think of to help Toby with his problem. They hired a dog behaviorist, tried crating him, and they gave him a job. It was the dog behaviorist’s idea to give Toby a job. Toby’s separation anxiety probably stemmed from losing his previous owner who went to the hospital and never came back. Toby was probably unsure about his place in the world and having a purpose might help.
So Charmaine got Toby enrolled as a therapy dog. Ever Wednesday, he went to the hospital and brought joy to many of the patients. Toby excelled, but his separation anxiety did not go away. It lessened and Toby made great improvements, but even today he still has issues.
So “On Toby’s Terms” isn’t about how Charmaine and Chris cured Toby’s problems, it is the journey of how Toby came to be a better dog and Charmaine and Chris had their lives enriched because of him. Toby did some naughty things, but he is such a happy-go-lucky dog that a his owners still cherished him despite his short-comings. If a dog can give unconditional love, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should give it back in return?
“On Toby’s Terms” is an inspirational story that we can all learn from. No one and no dog is perfect but we all have something to give if only given the chance. Read about Toby’s journey and adventures in “On Toby’s Terms” and you will not be disappointed.