There's nothing more shocking than saving a dog from a puppy mill and then losing him, but Hazel Mitchell has turned the story of Toby, the poodle, into a delightful children's story soon to be released.
Toby came into my life in 2013. He was a state seizure poodle from a disreputable breeder in Maine, USA.
Kept in a dark basement for the first year of his life with several other poodles, he had no social skills and was pretty much frozen.
I took him on as a foster, but after a couple of weeks I realized this was his forever home. I couldn’t bear to think of him going from home to home, so with me he stayed.
He had so many issues and needed a lot of time and love.
During the first year the unthinkable happened - he managed to escape from a daycare facility.
The search for Toby, with over a hundred people and tracker dogs out looking for him, was followed all over the world on social media, but thankfully he returned to us after eight, long days.
We know how lucky we are!
Now, three years later, although he still is a very fearful dog, he’s happy and healthy and loving life.
Best of all he inspired me to write and illustrate a children’s book about him for young children – fictionalizing the setting with a boy and father as Toby’s new family, but showing the issues a fearful dog has and how it takes patience and love to build trust and friendship. - Hazel Mitchell
‘Toby’ will be published by Candlewick Press, Sept 13th 2016 and is available online and at all bookstores.