Team Toby’s PAWS Across Canada Tour to stop in Airdrie
By: Allison Chorney
| Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:38 am
Dog lovers know it can be difficult to plan a vacation with your four-legged family members but bestselling author and professional public speaker Charmaine Hammond wasn’t going to let that stand in the way of a her mission to build a kinder Canada with the help of her Chesapeake Bay retriever, Toby.
Hammond will be in Airdrie from May 19 to 20.
Hammond, of Plamondon Alta., decided to take her pup on the road and uncover her own pet and family friendly experience while teaching kindness, acceptance and respect by giving presentations along the way in the PAWS Across Canada Tour.
“We wanted to have a dog-friendly adventure and to feature what travelling with your dog can be about,” Hammond said. “We also want to build a kinder Canada by stopping by, saying hello and getting connected in the community.”
Hammond adopted Toby, who was five years old at the time, and quickly discovered he came with some behavioural quirks that needed to be addressed such as locking himself in washrooms, turning on taps, moving furniture, breaking toilet tank lids and emptying closets.
After seeking help from a K9 behavourist, Hammond was told Toby suffered from separation anxiety and other behavioural issues, and that he was a dog that needed a job and a purpose to be happy and healthy.
With that, Hammond found the retriever a job as an Animal Assisted Therapy Dog and after training and testing he was approved as a volunteer with the Chimo Animal Assisted Therapy in Edmonton, and was placed as a volunteer at an adult mental health hospital. Toby and Hammond volunteered as an Animal Assisted Therapy Dog for four years.
From her experiences with Toby, Hammond wrote a bestselling and award-winning book On Toby’s Terms. The success of that book lead Hammond to pen a children’s book series including Toby the Pet Therapy Dog Says Be a Buddy Not a Bully.
Her books have won numerous awards including Mom’s Choice Awards, Parent Tested Parent Approved Awards and Reader’s Favourite Awards.
Hammond and Toby spread their message of kindness through public speaking engagements at schools, organizations and corporations, and have presented to more than 10,000 students across North America and raised more than $10,000 for a variety of charities.
“The students really get kindness,” Hammond said, adding she remembers one Grade 2 student who explained kindness as getting back to saying hello, smiling and really listening when you ask someone how they are doing.
“We’ve really been inspired by how much engagement the children have had,” she said.
While in Airdrie, Hammond and Toby will be stopping in at the radio station for an interview, visiting the municipal office and presenting to the Rotary Club of Airdrie.
“We’re going to be talking to the Rotary about our tour,” Hammond said.
“We’ve had a lot of interest about the tour from Rotary clubs across Alberta. The Rotary is such a powerful group in that they represent so many different facets of the community.”
Of course the pair will also be documenting via video the dog-friendly tourist attractions and are hoping community members can contact them with ideas of places to visit, eat and play.
“We’d love for (community members) to host a meal and invite us out,” she said.
She added the meal doesn’t have to include Toby because that can be difficult especially in restaurants.
Each of Toby and Hammond’s favourite places in Airdrie will be awarded the Toby Tested Toby Approved award and will receive a paw-o-graphed Toby photo.
Toby will also be documenting his perspective of the Airdrie adventure using a Go Pro video camera that he will wear.
At the end of the tour, Team Toby will put together a DOGumentary documenting the people, places and stories they visited and heard along the way.
To contact Hammond visit, contact them via by Facebook at facebook.com/TheOriginalTeamToby