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Toby, the Pet Therapy Dog, Says Be a Buddy, Not a BullyToby, the Pet Therapy Dog, Says Be a Buddy, Not a Bully by Charmaine Hammond
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

For the record, Toby the Pet Therapy Dog is not a cognitive behavioral therapist for pets who display chronic bullying-related emotional disorders. The entire pretext of this book is to introduce school-age children to the concept of therapy animals. Aside from a picture illustrating the identifying uniform, the book offers little by way of familiarizing children with the use of service animals as they relate to people with disabilities. Therapy dogs are briefly described as dogs who help when people are sad or not feeling well, which vaguely address the purpose of companion animals, but does nothing to teach children about how service dogs can increase quality of life for those with visual or physical impairments.
<br><br>It is commonly accepted etiquette that dictates that therapy dogs should not be approached or touched without express permission by the dog handler.  Sensitivity to the fact the dog is working and may be in the middle of a the use of therapy animals is becoming more widespread among individuals with disabilities.<br><br>Within the framework of the sub-plot, Toby is playing by himself with his favorite stuffed bear, and another dog approaches poor Toby, only to snatch his bear away, ripping it. Because of that event, Toby is preparing to receive an award honoring him for refusing to engage with the bully by retaliating or communicating aggressively. <br><br>I elected to read and review this children's book because I support diversity and non-violent communication training in children. However, this book reinforced neither. The primary job of any therapy animal is to stay close and in-tune with its human handler, alert for any signs of distress or even subtle irregularities undetectable by humans that could potentially cause a heart attack or seizures, saving lives. The responsibility to clearly illustrate the valuable work of a service dog is undermined within the story when Toby is playing by himself, away from his human. When conflict arises, he is taken by surprise, and runs to get help from his handler, Miss Charmaine. The dynamic is entirely backward, and while cutesy, gives the message that people with disabilities needing the help of therapy dogs don't really need the help after all. <br><br>From the aspect of "being a buddy, not a bully," Toby was neither. He was just a dog who ran away.

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