Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: Because of Bentley (therapy dog, Cavalier)

Because of Bentley*, by Loren Spiotta-DiMare with Diane Zdrodowski (J. PacePublications, 2015, 28 pages, $18, ages 7-9)
Because of Bentley

For a Perpetual Puppy, the Royal Purple Treatment

Purple abounds and bookends this book. . . .

Bentley is a real Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (such a long name for such a small dog!), or “Cavalier“ for short, who resembles a perpetual puppy.  His puppy appearance accounts for the breed’s popularity: their small size (basically, a large toy breed) doesn’t hurt either but merely adds to their cuteness factor.

If you love Cav’s you will gravitate towards Because of Bentley. If you haven’t yet met a Cav or if you lean towards perhaps bigger breeds, you will be intrigued by the book’s title.

Kids love the large-sized illustrations on one page with the story on the facing page and they soon learn and long remember the real-life accounts of Bentley becoming a therapy dog and how he helps other kids and their people.

Effortless Education

Definitely a dog person, the author unobtrusively sneaks in little husbandry tidbits like Bentley attending puppy kindergarten (a great idea) after all his shots are complete but you may notice outdated terminology such as ‘commands’ rather than ‘cues’ or requests that positive trainers now use. (As a matter of fact, puppy kindergarten is now recommended for puppies who have started their shots and waited a week – no need to wait until all the shots are finished several weeks later if precautions are taken.)

Fun Illustrations

The large water-color illustrations by Jude Delaney are ‘spot-on,’ like my favorite on page 8 - three dogs swimming with just their heads above water: Bentley, a Corgi ,and probably an All-American pup.

Dog Camp? Dogs Have Careers? And What About Perseverence?

Yes! And yes!

I love it that Bentley goes to a real dog camp to play and learn with other dogs and their people.

But more than that, I love that Bentley takes a three-day course to become part of a therapy dog team but when the team does not pass the exam, they take another course and this time they do pass: what an incredible lesson for young readers to persevere for something they really want in life!

Just What Does a Therapy Dog Do Anyway?

Have you ever wondered what makes a therapy dog a therapy dog? And what a therapy dog actually does? Bentley will ‘show-and-tell’ you all about it from visits with children and their parents in a hospital to a special-needs child in the school setting to giving a troubled boy the courage to reach out and make new friends – all Because of Bentley. And when you notice the ‘because of Bentley’ stories, you will smile and remember them long afterwards.

Bentley may just spur you and your dog on to become a therapy team yourselves! If so, Bentley would be proud, and if not, you have learned so much about therapy dogs that you can share with others!


An added bonus: photographs of the real Bentley (to supplement the illustrations), a multi-faceted canine champion, and more about the author, Bentley's person (Diane), and the illustrator. 

*Purchase here or through Loren's Reading Room here

Caveat: This book was sent to me as a reviewer.

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