Touch Our Pets- Therapy Dogs Pays Tribute to...
All dogs who rescue humans, or visit them as Therapy Dogs...
"I rescued a human today
Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly, and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.
As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy, and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to, and want to make a difference in someone's life.
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.
A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.
I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors: so many more to be saved. At least I could save one.
I rescued a human today".
Alfie has greatly enjoyed his days as a therapy pug but with his increasing health problems he has had to retire (very reluctantly on his part! He still gets so excited when he sees the lead and jacket coming out for his sister and now his nephew and niece!).
Thank you Alfie for all the smiles and laughter you have given others with your special kindly ways, you are a very huggable pug!
Sadly Alfie crossed the rainbow bridge on 29.07.2011
April has been enjoying her therapy work for over 5 years and is now ready to take it easy, retire, and let her daughter Poppet and son Frank continue in her place! Enjoy your retirement April!
Sadly April crossed the rainbow bridge on 16.01.2013
Charlie has had to retire from his therapy work due to ill health - we do miss Jessie and Charlie in the team and really hope they will be able to join in Top Dogs work again in the not too distant future. Get well soon Charlie!
Dieter was a founder member of Top Dogs in July 2008 and was known to all as the “gentleman” of the team. He qualified as a therapy dog at 10 months old and simply loved “going to work”. His prominent eyebrows and beard drew much attention from both children and adults alike, and he would never miss an opportunity to dance in a circle on his hind legs. Sadly Dieter had to retire from Top Dogs soon after his 7th birthday as he was diagnosed with an inoperable tumour which caused much discomfort and pain. He became very ill and all too soon lost the sparkle in his eyes.
Dieter crossed the Rainbow Bridge on the 5th January 2014. May you rest in peace Boy your suffering is over. Always in our hearts.
Finzie was a founder member of TOP Dogs in July 2008, but had already been a qualified Therapy dog for several years.
She enjoyed visits to young and old alike, but was rather fussy about the type of treats she accepted. Finzie is now 11 so has decided to give her younger sister the chance to follow in her footsteps. Finzie, thank you for all the smiles you have spread as a TOP Dog.
Sadly Finzie’s days of retirement were short and she has now crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Rest in peace Finzie.
Hettie joined our team in July 2009. She was very committed to the programme from the beginning, and soon became a valued member of the TOP Dogs family.
She enjoyed all types of visits, and worked with various dogs.
Unfortunately, all too soon she became very ill, but her suffering ceased on 14th December 2009.
We miss you Hettie.
Sadly Jade crossed the rainbow bridge on 10.04.2011.
Despite having the very painful condition, Syringomyelia, she qualified as a Therapy dog on 26th October 2008, and brought smiles to many faces, when her condition would allow. Due to this condition she couldn't wear a collar or harness, so she had her own carry bag.
When she saw animals on TV she would bark at them, and she just loved being outside chasing dragonflies and butterflies.
Your suffering is now over Jade. Thank you for all the smiles you spread with us.
We pay tribute to Janet Kerr, who joined TOP Dogs at a very sad time in her life, but instead of thinking of her own grief, she put the need of others before her own and joined our Therapy Dog team. Her own dog wouldn’t have enjoyed the work, so she handled Danny Boy on a regular basis, which was good for him too, as he visited regularly, instead of having to stay home and take turns with his sisters. Janet was always willing and reliable, and it was our great loss when she decided to leave South Africa and make her life in England. We thank you Janet for the wonderful work you did with TOP Dogs, and we’re pleased to hear you’ve settled into your new life in England.Danny Boy particularly misses you, as he doesn’t get to visit as often as he used to, which also means less treats!Good luck in your new life and we hope you’ll visit us again soon.
Lady was one of the first dogs to qualify in Benoni and has been working as a Therapy Dog for the last 7 years. She has guided many new handlers in taking their first steps in our organisation and has certainly spread many smiles while wearing her blue jacket. The time has now come for her to enjoy some peace and quiet in her retirement, although I am certain that for some time to come she will be ready to go on a visit when she sees her sisters getting ready. A truly remarkable friend and companion... Lady by name and Lady by nature... "practically perfect in every way."
Sadly Lady crossed the rainbow bridge on 16.02.2012.
Mowgli was a founder member of TOP Dogs in July 2008, but had already been a qualified Therapy Dog for several years.
The children especially loved him, but he was just as happy visiting young and old alike.
Mowgli was very special as he ‘trained’ many inexperienced handlers, and was very patient with them.
He crossed the rainbow bridge on 13th January 2010, after a short illness, and leaves a big gap in the TOP Dogs family.
Click here for a tribute made to Winston in the Benoni City Times on 28 June 2013
His Journey's Just Begun
Don't think of him as gone away-
His journey’s just begun
life holds many facets
the Earth is only one
Just think of him as resting
from the aches and pains and the tears
in a place of warmth and comfort
where there are no days and years
Think how he must be wishing
that we could know today
how nothing but our sadness
can really pass away
And think of him as living
In the hearts of all he touched
For nothing loved is ever lost-
And he was loved so much.
He was our sweetest Danny Boy
Now at peace and rest
Our Cavalier - a much loved one
The brightest and the best.
21/07/2004 - 10/10/2014
Soames became a therapy Dog as a 1 year old. He took to doing this work beautifully, he knew that once his jacket was put on him he was in work mode and loved it. He was very good at finding a mat to curl up on where ever he went. Sadly he passed away a day short on his 6th Birthday, he unfortunately got a torsion which was operated on, but died the following day from a heart attack. We miss him so very much. Rest in Peace Dearest Soames.
Delchamy Gemstone Legend
18 April 2005 - 7 September 2015
I am profoundly saddened to let you know that my beloved Gigi has passed away due to congestive heart failure. It all happened so quickly which was merciful for her, but heartbreaking for me and all those who loved her.
Gigi was a special girl who brought so much joy to many and enjoyed her life to the full.
She loved meeting people as a TOP Dogs therapy dog and from the age of 7 re-entered the breed show ring as a Veteran. What fun we had together!
I am lucky to have so many precious and happy memories of my beautiful girl. I just wish she could have stayed with me forever.
Wait for me and watch over me Gigi, until we are together again.
I loved you so much and always will.x
- Kathy Webb
Megan was one of the founder members of Top Dogs and at the time of her passing was the longest serving therapy dog on the East Rand. She was a natural and loved all the attention she received at her visits. Megan loved going to the schools and helping the children with their reading. Her favourite visit was to the Linmed hospital where the nurses as well as the patients delighted in seeing her work. She seemed to know just what each person needed in the way of comfort and was always eager to help young and old alike. The children found her especially comforting as being a large dog they were able to cuddle her or she would just lie down with them. When Megan crossed the rainbow bridge in Sept 2014 she certainly left a big void in many lives, but especially mine. Till we meet again run free my precious girl.
- Linda Gosnell
Skye was a lovable rescue dog who enjoyed helping everyone she meet in her therapy work. She was always eager to go on visits and got very excited when she saw her blue jacket being got ready. Skye was a great hit with the old folks she meet as her one passion in life was being stroked, and that is what they loved doing as they missed their pets. Her gentle nature meant she was also great working with children in our school reading programme. Skye sadly was diagnosed with a very aggressive bone cancer in June 2015 which took her across the rainbow bridge far too early in her life. Run free with your sister’s gentle Skye.
- Linda Gosnell
She's not here anymore
She's gone the path of many before
She's not here anymore
She has crossed the sea to a different glistening shore
She's not here even now
My life is so quiet somehow
She's not here even now
Though I listen through the silence, there is nothing now
She's not here anymore
She's crossed that darn bridge
She's not here anymore
What I would give to switch
She's not here beside me
She has gone on to run free
She's not here beside me
She's left a space the size of a sea
She's still here I know
I can sense her nose blow
She's still here I know
She's part of what shaped my life and what made my heart glow.
Miss you my Sweetheart
- Clare Ernstzen
I am so sad to have to start 2017 off with this. Claire MacIntosh has just let us know that she had to send her beautiful George to the Rainbow Bridge just after New Year.
She says: “He was not looking good just after Christmas and spent most of the New Year’s weekend at the vet on a drip, having a whole battery of tests and x-rays done. He came home on Monday morning, but by Tuesday he had stopped eating again. Another stay at the vet and more medication did not seem to do much. His kidneys had failed.
The vet suspects that at his age (only just over 2 years) that it was a genetic problem as no poisons were found in his blood work. We only noticed the symptoms just after Christmas, but by the time symptoms show in dogs, the kidneys are already down to below 25% function. Unfortunately, kidneys are not something that can be fixed and we are not in a country where they can do kidney replacements in dogs.”
George was a laid-back boy who loved to lie around and be fussed by our clients. He was a natural-born Therapy Dog, and we were privileged to work with him, even for such a short time.
Run free and enjoy your rest, sweet boy. You will be missed.
And our hearts go out to Claire.
Tessa was rescued from the Benoni SPCA in August 2014 and became a TOP Dog once she’d settled into her new family, and lost the excess weight she was carrying. She particularly enjoyed visiting the elderly. She left for Rainbow Bridge on 17th October 2017, after eating some towelling!!! The Vet operated for 2 hours to try to remove all the threads that had caused 2 blockages, and cut further into the intestine. She seemed to recover well, but two days later she went to join all the others that have gone before to the Bridge. Until we meet again Tessa……….
- Angie Thornton
Carolyn found Rex thrown away with his dead mother and siblings in the bush near her farm. He was tiny, but had a big voice, and if she had not heard him crying as she walked to work that morning she would never have known such a wonderful companion.
At 6 Months old he got the worst case of Mange she had ever seen and her Vet said, put him down, this is just impossible to cure, so she went onto the internet, and found a cure, bought it and healed Rex within 5 weeks. Today, he is a healthy very talkative and loving boy, and he can also talk in the human language, He can say Come if he wants something, or if he wants you to get up off the couch, so that he can jump up and be comfortable in the warm spot you just vacated. He is Bright, clever, and gentle, would not harm a flee and I love him very much. As he grew and got bigger, his life was to change, He flew down to Cape Town with his family and went to live with his mothers sister in her home, and then a couple of years later he moved with his Aunty Gaye to Pretoria. There She heard about TOP Dogs and thought that he would be the ideal dog to participate in this group of dogs and their lovely owners. Rex became a TOP DOG very easily, and started to visit hospitals and old age homes with Gaye who by now had become his new mother. Rex is now 11yrs old and has decided that as his age is catching up with him and he has a knee injury that at his age, the Vets do not want to operate on, he will sadly be retiring
Rex says thank you to all the members for the love they have given him and to Gaye, and wishes them all the best for future years.
I adopted Mienkie from the Randfontein SPCA October 2009. She was a skinny scared little doggy with a very big heart and always needed comfort and love. With a lot of love and cuddles she turned into the sweetest, gentlest boxer I've ever seen. In the first year with us she was very jealous of the other 2 boxers I had at the time and she became the dominant one. I had 2 other female boxers at that time. They had 1 or 2 "disagreements", but luckily with a lot of patience and love we sorted it out very quickly.
In my rescue work for boxers I heard of Top Dogs in 2015 and wanted to join the team, but I was also very uncertain if one of my boxers would be able to do this amazing special work due to the fact that boxers are well known for their boisterous clown like behavior.
I knew Mienkie was very special and much more chilled and reserved than most of the boxers I've seen before. So I decided to take her for an evaluation. I was so proud of her that day, she passed her evaluation November 2015 and qualified as a therapy dog January 2016.
Mienkie is really such a special dog and seems like she know just who needs some love and extra cuddles, or just who to comfort. She knew exactly when she was working and was always dishing out love and attention. She enjoyed giving love to those who needed it.
Unfortunately Mienkie is getting old and do have some health issues, and it is with great sorrow that we decided to retire. This wasn't a easy decision, but I have to think about her health first.
We will surely miss spreading smiles and love, but we will always remember the special times we had with young and old. We will also always remember and miss our Top Dogs family.
- Adele Thompson
TROY LEE or "Tiki T" as he was affectionately known was an amazing dog at home with his human and furry families, as well as at work for Top Dogs.
Troy nearly died twice before in his life….. at the age of about 12 weeks he almost drowned In our swimming pool one night….. then at the age of about 3 years he contracted a particularly deadly strain of Biliary. He was in ICU for about 10 days and was skin and bones when he returned home.
After his mom died, Troy became the leader of our pack of 11 dogs. He kept everyone in check in a quiet, dignified manner, never, ever baring his teeth to anyone.
He was so much more than just a dog to so many people and the love he showed to everyone, especially the elderly at Summerfield Retirement Home, was pure and incredibly special. He would walk into the lounge at the Home and go up to the first person he saw and place his head on their lap. Even if the person did not at first pat his head he would just wait. Once they patted him he never wanted them to stop, if they did he would wriggle his nose under their hand to encourage them to continue patting him. He smiled and walked slowly, constantly wagging his tail, from room to room, never tiring of giving and receiving love from all whom he saw.
Tennis balls were the love of his life… chasing and catching them (he even won “Best Ball Catcher” at a dog show in Kyalami) He also loved swimming - even through the cold winter months he would get in and swim a lap of the pool with a smile on his face.
Troy is still and will always be with us in the warm, golden rays of sunshine and the stars we see at night. In distance we may be apart, but Troy will be closely treasured and adored in our hearts forever...
Jinx qualified as a Therapy Dog in 2013 with her handler and soul-sister Conor. For five years she visited Hospice, Teddy Bear Clinic, Frail Cares, Pre-Primary schools and more. She attended radio interviews and TV interviews with Conor, often dressed in Court costume. A surprising number of the public recognised her from breakfast TV shows! Jinx will be remembered by many other handlers for her love of the Christmas Carol ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’, when she joined in the chorus every year at Frail Care Christmas celebrations. Not for any other Carol, mind you - just that one!
Jinx brought a lovely calm comfort to all her clients, standing steady while nine children touched her fur, or watching patiently until a withdrawn teenager at Teddy Bear Clinic finally squatted down to get the unconditional love she badly needed that day.
In her private life, Jinx’s great passion was diving into water from a height. Swimming was OK, but the main point was swim to get out in order to dive back in again. In Obedience, she excelled at the ‘Stay’; her native Aussie intelligence drew her to a behaviour where she did absolutely nothing whatsoever for ten minutes, and got well rewarded for it.
Jinx was an international star as well. As ‘Jinx the Wonder Dog’ she went viral on YouTube with over 5.5 million views. If you need proof that dogs have a sense of humour, check out this link to one of the versions of her viral video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQwpGL473SA
Her song was (and is) Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl’. In March 2018 she retired from therapy dog work when she had to fight a terrible attack of flesh-eating bacteria. She won that fight with her characteristic stubbornness, but a few weeks later she abandoned her weakened body and left for the Rainbow Bridge on 26 April 2018. She was four weeks short of her twelfth birthday. My stubborn, brave, silly, sweet girl, you were my darling. We’ll see you again soon.
- Conor Hughes
The TOP Dogs family said a very sad farewell to Marezanne Lingenfelder, a former handler, who was tragically killed in a car accident, 02.06.2018, along with 4 of her beloved Aussies.
Marezanne was with us at the start of the J/burg North team, and spread many smiles with Sparkle, a very pretty, and popular, Australian Shepherd.
She recently applied to have another of her Aussies evaluated, and return to the family, but sadly that wasn’t to be.
Our thoughts are with her family and friends, who lost a loved one far too soon.
Georgie left us very suddenly on 12th June 2018, at only 7 years old, through heart failure.
He had a very lonely start to his life, but flourished as a Therapy Dog and enjoyed visiting both young and old. He loved to ‘adopt a senior’ when we went to the Frail Cares, and he would visit everyone, but then go sit beside his chosen one of the day, and cuddle up to their feet, and didn’t want to leave.
He helped new handlers, without their own dog, and was happy to work with them, but he trained them in his own way, that he needed treats to help him to work better!!
He was a great character and has left a huge hole in our hearts and family, even though he was such a small dog. We miss you terribly Georgie.
- Angie Thornton
Eoman - Vlci Pisen Essex of Mukonry
Eoman, was what we call a Giant. He reached 105cm at the shoulder. He was the gentlest with children. He loved doing the Netcare Rehabilitation with all the sick kids, and he loved getting involved with the abused kids at Teddy Bear Clinic.
Eoman arrived from Czech Republic at 11 weeks, and crept into everyone’s heart. Thank you to his breeder Ruza Vlckova.
Eoman was my friend, and I still really miss him lots.
Go and play with the children wherever you are my boy. I love you.
- Clare Ernstzen
Sadly Oscar crossed the rainbow bridge in October 2018 - rest in peace Oscar.
Bella was adopted from the Kempton Park SPCA in August 2009. Bella came to us with a broken spirit. She had no bounce, no wiggle and couldn’t be lured out of her kennel even with the most tempting doggy snack on offer. It took months of dedication to win her trust. She attended basic obedience classes and qualified as a TOP Dog therapy dog on 30 September 2015.
Bella was very fond of small children and thoroughly enjoyed the attention she received from the children in the Top Dogs AAT programs.
Bella loved to stalk birds, she slowly crept up to them, uttered a joyous bark and then, very satisfied with herself she would ran off to her next “hide and bark” game.
Bella gave her last doggy kiss on 24 January 2019.
“If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to heaven and bring you home again.”
- Denise Naudé
Unfortunately Zack has had to retire from his duties as a Therapy Dog, as he’s now suffering with arthritis in his joints. We thank Zack and Lisa for their dedication to their visits. Zack as such a hit, where-ever he went, and brought smiles to so many faces, both young and old.
We wish you a long and happy retirement with ‘Pack Fawkes’, and thank you for being such a wonderful Therapy Dog.
Pudding had to retire for ill health, but unfortunately then crossed the Rainbow Bridge to be with her human daddy. Pudding was a big hit with frail care residents, as she was such a lightweight to sit on their knee. Thank you for spreading smiles for miles Pudding.
Lienkie was my first therapy dog and did very well in her evaluation. She enjoyed her visits, but unfortunately suffered from terrible car sickness. It was with a heavy heart that I decided to pull her from the programme, but if your dog no longer enjoys the process it is better to be proactive. Lienkie now enjoys long leisurely walks in rural Ireland and evenings in her dad’s lap in front of the fireplace.
- Louise Botha
Gustav became a therapy dog at the age of three. He always grew extremely excited whenever I put on my uniform and got his jacket and lead out. Goose loved visiting elderly people and was always eager to give hugs. His last visit was to Harmonie Hof Retirement Home in Pretoria. Goose retired towards the end of 2018 and now enjoys his new life in Ireland, where he emigrated to with his parents, brother and sister. He loves the long walks and running on the deserted beaches. And he continues to give the best hugs.
- Louise Botha
Josh came to therapy work at the ripe old age of seven, proving that you can teach an old(er) dog new tricks. This gentle giant loved all visits, but had a special place in his heart for children. Josh’s last visit was to Paul Jungnickel House in Pretoria, where he entertained the patients with his booming bark whenever they stopped rubbing his belly. He retired to a loving family in Randfontein and is greatly missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. We miss you, Josh. Every day.
- Louise Botha
Tribute to Louise Botha
I met Louise in Benoni when we were both doing an evaluation with our first dogs in March 2015. At the time Pretoria conducted only one permanent visit, Irene Homes and to my knowledge there were only two Pretoria teams operating, with Johannesburg helping out. Louise became our Team Leader and she led with total dedication - by the end of her reign in January 2018, we had 27 teams in Pretoria with 11 permanent visits, whilst requests for more Pretoria visits kept streaming in. More Pretoria handlers and dogs joined after every evaluation.
Louise is a no-nonsense person who get things done and who can make her own decisions and follow them through. She was fully committed to the cause and was the one who always reminded us that we are a charity organisation working with volunteers. Her love for dogs, especially for her Basset children, could be seen whenever they gathered around her. Louise was not only our leader, but became a dear and loyal friend. We, that knew her well, realised that it was never easy for her to go out and speak to a group of children, or sit through a lengthy meeting, but she always stepped up and did what was expected of her.
Louise and Stephan and their three Basset children, retired Top Dog Lienkie, Top Dog Gustav and rogue son Diageo, emigrated to Ireland at the end of 2018, where they are adjusting well. She is sorely missed by the Top Dogs Team. - Alta Rossouw
KD was not a born therapy dog because he was rather vocal and loud! His first evaluation was not successful at all. He was loud and wanted to eat all the other dogs. But, with a year of focused training at the tender age of 10, he was able to mellow nicely and his second attempt at an evaluation was a success.
KD turned out to be a successful therapy dog and loved working at Teddy Bear Foundation or Yenzani. He was at his happiest when surrounded by children and lived for when his handler would put uniform on. He enjoyed his visits with old people too but it was working with kids which made him wag his tail the most. He made plenty dog and human friends and his 2yrs as a therapy dog made the old man young again.
Sadly, his health deteriorated and his handler had to retire him. KD is retiring to enjoy what time he has left with his family.
- Diane Logie (October 2019)