Visiting Team Since: 01/2006
Visited From: 2006-2017
Toby, a Great Pyrenees/German Shepherd mix, is truly a gentle giant. Yvonne says he can calm a room full of rambunctious preschoolers and can bring smiles to faces that seem to have lost them. Originally, it was the obedience trainer Yvonne and Larry worked with who suggested therapy work for Toby because of his mellow, gentle nature.
Toby is a member of North Star Therapy Animals and has two handlers – Yvonne and her husband Larry. Yvonne & Toby have been visiting at Elim Home in Watertown since 2007 and have made many friends. Toby always remembers the locations of the rooms where a treat is waiting. He is so comfortable at Elim Home that it almost seems like his second home. When Yvonne & Toby walk around the building, Toby stops at every room and looks to see if there’s someone waiting for a visit. One of Yvonne’s favorite moments was Toby walking over to a man who never said anything. The man placed his hand on the side of Toby’s head, and the two of them just looked into each other’s eyes. In that moment, something was being communicated without any sound at all. Together, Yvonne & Toby also visit classrooms as well as individual children at St. David’s Center where Yvonne works. The pair also enjoys hearing stories read through the Paws to Read program through the Hennepin County Library system.
But Toby’s great work doesn’t end there. Larry & Toby have primarily focused their time together in the Autism Day Treatment classrooms at St. David’s Center. Toby has a calming effect on many of the children. He worries when a child is upset and will often lie next to the child quietly. Larry also hopes to expand on Toby’s work in the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program by visiting libraries in the future.
In 2013 Toby was featured in a “Rescued Heroes” calendar by local artist Paul Sansale, who described Toby as “a human inside a dog’s body”, and said, “He has human eyes.” When Toby isn’t busy visiting, he loves to swim and play soccer. He also enjoys all the attention he gets during his daily walks to the park.