The school year is underway and moms nationwide are breathing a sigh of relief. No more schlepping here, there, and everywhere. No more whining and complaints about boredom. No more travel to family destination spots with a gazillion other people. Yet, despite the return to daily routine and the new peace and quiet that comes over the household, this reprieve doesn’t last for long. Once we catch our breaths, we begin to long for that connection and time to spend again with our children.

Toby and Charmaine

Toby and Charmaine

The start of a new school year brings a focus on learning and involvement in extracurricular activities. It also invariably brings up issues and instances around the topic of “bullying”. Bullying can turn a child’s fantastic start of a new year into an immediate nightmare with dire consequences. So where am I going with this???

If you follow us with a bit of regularity, you likely know Dog is Good is committed to the dog-human relationship- in particular celebrating how great it feels to be with Dog. As such, our business causes us to cross paths with an amazing array of people who love and are “inspired by Dog” (that’s our Dog is Good tagline). I recently had the pleasure of connecting with an amazing husband and wife team, who, along with their dog Toby, are making great strides to combat the issue of bullying and are helping children learn the power of kindness. Through Toby, kids in 1st-3rd grade are learning how to “Be a Buddy…Not a Bully”.

When Chris and Charmaine Hammond adopted a 5 year old Chocolate Lab affably named Toby, they had no idea he was a behavioral mess. He destroyed their home, had several unusual behavioral quirks, and put the word patience to a serious test (think Marley X10). But ultimately, Toby transformed from from incorrigible to incredible. His journey would become the subject of a best selling book, “On Toby’s Terms”, a new movie, and later develop into phenomenal program to help teach children “How to be a Buddy, Not a Bully”.

Toby’s transformation did not come easy but once it was determined that he needed a purpose, amazing things happened. Charmaine introduced him to CHIMO Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program where he went through training and became an incredible Animal Assistance dog. His new role made a huge impact on his training and behavior. He clearly loved his job and seemed to know exactly how to behave situationally. Wherever he went, Toby connected through the heart and offered unconditional love and acceptance. Eventually he earned the Chimo Reese Award for his exceptional work as a therapy dog. Toby has since crossed over Rainbow Bridge, but the lessons he taught Chris, Charmaine, and the people at CHIMO AAT left a lasting impact.

Chris and Charmaine recently adopted another dog, this one a Chesapeake Bay Retriever whom they named Toby Hammond Jr. (nicknamed: TJ). TJ is the first “ambassadog” for Team Toby – an organization chartered to “pawsitively” improve lives by teaching kindness, acceptance, and respect. I am assisting them with training using a format I have never used before. Because they are in Alberta, Canada and I am in Southern California, we are doing virtual training.

I am impressed with Chris and Charmaine’s devotion and commitment to the behavioral health and manners training of their pup. TJ will follow in Toby’s footsteps as Charmaine, a nationally known and radio-syndicated motivational speaker, takes her message against bullying around North America. You can read more about Toby and TJ’s work at
Dogs do great things. Dogs inspire me to do great things too.