A timid rescue dog learns to get along with his new owners, a lonely boy and his single dad.
When the unnamed narrator and his father move into a new house together, the boy finds a notice from an animal-rescue agency and asks if he can adopt a dog. At the shelter, the boy chooses Toby, a shy, midsized dog with fluffy, white fur. At first Toby is shy and withdrawn, but he gradually learns to like the boy and play with him. The untrained dog then begins to get in trouble around the house, including chewing the dad’s glasses, leading to the dad’s suggestion that the dog might need to be returned to the shelter. The boy swiftly trains Toby to obey basic commands, and in the conclusion, Toby redeems himself by finding the boy’s missing shoe. While the dog is an appealing character and the bonding of child and canine is heartwarming, Toby’s obedience training is unrealistically quick, and the lack of guidance and participation by the father in the dog’s integration into the family is distressing. Subdued illustrations in pencil and watercolor wash project a melancholy air suited to the somewhat sad little boy, who clearly needs the unquestioning love and companionship of his new pet. The main characters and a neighbor girl are all white, with a dark-skinned mother and daughter shown with their two dogs in a park scene on the final endpapers.
Toby is a pleasing pup, but his story doesn’t stand out from the crowded pack of dog tales. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)