Graduate Team: Susan and Topper
About the Team: Topper, a male black Lab is Susan’s 7th guide dog and 6th from Guiding Eyes
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor: Miranda Beckmann
Susan is a retired government worker and maintains a busy volunteer schedule. Whether singing in her church choir or reading to children at the local school and community center, she is always on the go! Susan appreciates the security, independence and companionship Topper contributes to her active life.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Topper is a love! He is very loyal and a good worker. He’ll be 3 years old in March and is very handsome. Topper is very good at settling when necessary. Recently we attended a 90-minute meeting at church, and he was very patient and content the entire time. He was happy to be there, and everyone was happy to see him, too.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “While still in school, I met someone with a wonderful guide dog from Guiding Eyes. I was very impressed and knew I wanted a guide dog in the future. Topper is my 6th dog from Guiding Eyes. Guiding Eyes is very intentional in the matching of students and guide dogs. Whether training happens at home or at the Guiding Eyes campus, there is very careful planning and consideration to the individual and their needs. Guiding Eyes is the best at what they do and plays a huge part in helping people be as mobile as possible.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Having a guide dog enhances my life in 3 key areas. First and foremost, I have ‘canine vision’. In addition, Topper provides wonderful companionship and a sense of security. With Topper, I’m comfortable walking places at night. This allows me to be more independent without relying on others for rides. A guide dog makes it much easier to pass through an area, versus with a cane. I can easily walk down sidewalks and avoid obstacles, like café furniture or parking meters. Plus, life is just more fun with a dog; I’m looking forward to ‘doing’ life with Topper!”
Were there any training highlights? “My trainer Miranda was outstanding! We practiced teaching Topper to target objects by using a bell. When he reached the object and rang the bell, I knew the object was within reach. We also went out to eat a couple of times and Topper did very well in restaurants.”
Topper came bounding into our home at 8 weeks old. He was exuberant, smart, and had the cutest head tilt. I knew from the first week he was destined to be a working dog. We discovered early on that Topper is a natural swimmer and loved the water. During our time together we enjoyed many notable outings. We visited the local fire station, airport, the air and space museum, and even US Capitol, but nothing could compare to Topper standing right next to me as my finance proposed. Topper loved being a big brother to GEB Marc and couldn’t get enough cuddle time. I have learned more from my time with Topper, than with any of my other 9 GEB pups. He is incredibly handsome, smart, and determined. I could not be more proud of how hard we worked and how far he has come. I wish Topper and Susan many years of success and friendship.
Jordan Moore, Puppy Raiser of Topper