Topper at the North Carolina mountains.

Tribute to Topper by Anita Kotheimer

It Came Easy for this Guy to Win Hearts

When I went looking for my companion pet, I was sure that he had to love others.  The other quality that I was looking for was intelligence and a sense of intuition about people’s emotions.  With perseverance, I found an Aussiedoodle breeder who donated her dogs to a trainer who trained emotional support and diabetic alert pets.

I was quickly on her web site watching the liters that came available.   Medium size was my first choice, and my second choice was a sharp color contrast like, black and white or grey and white.  Predominately white was the soft touch that would make a cute cuddle dog.

When I purchased “Topper”, his white beard was his appropriate label from the ZZ Top song, “A Sharp Dressed Man”.  Training started at 8 weeks.  The bond was effortless as he trusted my words and cues.  Most of my training was modeled from You Tube videos of positive reinforcement.

My goal was inspired by the “Paws with a Purpose” prison dog program. Twenty years of volunteering at KCIW had placed a desire to see changes in people who were hardened by life’s circumstances.  I was quick to join WAGS and start my journey to certify Topper.

Our story saddened as lymphoma and Covid robbed us of a long life in service to others. He passed before the age of 7.  Barely 5 years of visiting nursing homes and troubled adolescent and adult in-patient facilities.  When you believe in a partner for life, you cannot always pick the terms.

So, how can my story encourage anyone?  Well, my determination to start over was inspired by Topper.  Life is not as easy now that I have a new pet partner named JB.  He is not the easy soul that I found in Topper.  This pup requires more from me than you tube videos.  Maybe it is me that needs to comfort him and reach in to find that bond, a union that cannot be broken. 

As many of you understand, learning to communicate with your dog requires professional advice.  I am now taking special education classes to dial back his energy barometer.  This has become a new venture for me.  Others in WAGS say that it can happen with time. I am learning patience.  This is my life lesson!  It is not about control.  It is about looking into his troubling behavior and diverting his attention with positive reinforcement.

Lord, please help me to remember why I have taken on this challenge.   It is not about me.  It is about others.  I hope to get to know as many of you as possible.  I am grateful to be a member of WAGS which is an organization that shares stories of success.

Submitted by Anita Kotheimer and JB, who my soul mirror of Topper.