MY BOOKS: Happiness According to Humphrey
Happiness According to Humphrey

Humphrey is unsqueakably excited - a special guest is coming to Longfellow School! But when he sees who it is, he is SHOCKED-SHOCKED-SHOCKED to see that the guest is a big dog.

Dogs always worry Humphrey, but luckily this one is very gentle. He's named Happy and he's come to help Humphrey's classmates with their reading.

Soon, he hears about more dogs - a friendly one who can do tricks and sing and a beloved pet gone missing.

Everyone is Room 26 wants to help – especially Humphrey. Luckily, he’s good at helping kids with their problems … and he pawsitively loves to solve a mystery – or even two!


Betty says:
Betty, Allison, GabbyTom, Allison, Gabby People regularly ask me where I get my ideas. The inspiration for the dog, Happy, in Happiness According to Humphrey, began years ago, I got an email from a woman named Allison, who had a reading (therapy) dog that she regularly brought to the local school.

The students were enjoying the Humphrey books and we started corresponding when Allison gifted each of the students with a Humphrey book. I was intrigued and the two of us have stayed in touch. Recently, I was able to meet her and her husband, Tom, and one of her current dogs, Gabby, in person.

Allison was a valuable source of information to me as I wrote the book. That’s why the book is dedicated to her and her wonderful reading dog.

Here’s her story:
Thabiso In 2010, Allison Smith of Athens, New York, had a mission: to adopt a dog who would be suitable for a therapy dog. When she rescued a very tall, handsome Lab from Labs4Rescue, her wish came true. Thabiso was born to be a therapy dog … and he had a special affinity for children.

She contacted her nearby elementary school and met a teacher excited about bringing a dog into the classroom, and Thabiso’s long and successful career as a reading dog began.

The students were instantly excited to have a big, beautiful, calm dog in their classroom. Names were drawn from a jar called the “Thabiso Jar,” to see which students would interact with Thabiso on a given day. But from his first visit to the school, “Thabiso was able to sense right away which students needed a little special attention: kids with reading challenges or behavioral issues, kids who were a little sad or just having a bad day, kids with trouble at home … Thabiso was drawn to them,” Allison explains. “He just seemed to understand.”

ThabisoStudents read to him, confided in him, even used him as a great, big lovable pillow.

And when summer rolled around, he was stunned and sad not to be in the classroom. “He’d look at me like, ‘Hey, it’s time to go to school,’ and moped around,” Allison says. “After a few years, he got more used to the summer break.”

Thabiso not only went to school, but he also visited assisted living facilities and several local libraries on a regular basis. Allison’s husband, Tom, started taking Thabiso to visit a shelter where Thabiso bonded with a number of homeless residents. “Some of them would have tears in their eyes as they petted him,” Tom recalls. “You made my day,” he would hear.Thabiso Allison is quick to point out that not just any dog makes a good therapy dog, and some are best suited to other forms of therapy work. It takes patience and training and figuring out the dog’s strengths and where they are best suited.

She later tried another dog who didn’t work out as a classroom dog because his attention strayed unless he was being petted but found his niche with one-on-one placements. Thabiso eventually developed some health issues, and he crossed the rainbow bridge in 2019, working right up to the end. He had logged 888 therapy visits, the vast majority at school, and had captured the hearts of his classmates.

He was given the right name, because Thabiso means “bringer of joy”. He certainly lightened the hearts of all those he encountered and spread joy everywhere he went.

For more information on therapy animals, a list of resources and organizations is at the back of the new book, Happiness According to Humphrey.

Some Dates:
Thabiso birthday: 5-24-2007
Thabiso Adoption: 12-22-2010
Thabiso TDI (Therapy Dogs International) certification: 8-11-2011. (He passed the test twice - once with Allison and once with Tom.)
Thabiso 1 st Therapy visit: 9-21-2011
Thabiso Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dog Certification (with both Allison and Tom): January 2018
Thabiso last therapy visit: 11-16-2019
Thabiso end of service: 11-26-2019
Total therapy visits: 888