Meet the Board
Helen Mendelsohn, President
Samir Madden, Vice President
Beth Madden, Secretary
Leo Enfield, Treasurer
Judy Mendelsohn, Director
Joshua Beal, Director
Deb Bettis, Director
Bette Immel, Director
RC Smith, Director
Helen joined the TOP DOG board in 2014. She is currently serving as President of the Board and Training Director. Helen moved to Tucson from New York in 1973. She has an Associate’s degree from PCC and attended the U of A. She worked as an EMT for an ambulance company, a Process Planner Estimator for a private company and a Corrections Officer for the State of Arizona. She became disabled in 1993 and was lucky enough to find TOP DOG in 2008. Helen trained her service dog, a German Shepherd named Hope. They were certified as Team #105 in 2010. Relying on her long experience raising and training German Shepherds, she has served as a TOP DOG Evaluator for Certification, Certification Chairman, Class Instructor, and a Demonstration Team with Hope. She enjoys embroidery, visiting friends, and playing with her dogs.
Leo has been on the TOP DOG Board since 1994. Leo’s expertise in electronics and computer technology was instrumental in getting TOP DOG’s office up and running. He still consults whenever there is a management-information system problem. Leo generously donates his time, talents and resources to TOP DOG in spite of his full-time employment with the University of Arizona’s College of Engineering. Since 1991, Leo has done everything from providing general maintenance to assisting in development of the Volunteer class. As a Training Assistant (TA), Leo has one Certified Team to his credit.
Joshua has been associated with Top Dog since 2011. He grew up in Spokane, Washington and moved to Tucson in 2008. He worked as a crew lead installing natural gas distribution pipeline for businesses and residences. He also worked installing for Direct TV and Cox. In September 2010, Josh had a motorcycle accident leaving him a paraplegic with a traumatic brain injury. He wanted to keep his beloved pet Rottweiler Damion. That is when he became involved in Top Dog, they were an answer to a prayer. Joshua and Damion are Top Dog team number 120, certified in 2012. Josh joined the Top Dog board members in 2014, he wanted to help Top Dog in any way he could. Josh and Damion have demonstrated many times how a service dog can help in everyday life. Josh has now trained his second Rottweiler, Vettel. They are Top dog team 145, certified in 2016.
Have been training dogs in various arenas since 1966. A registered AKC breeder from 1974 to present. Began training Great Danes for Service Dogs in 1998. After successfully training my own 1st Service Dog, Manhattan. Have been training and providing Great Danes for others that required larger dogs for mobility purposes as of 2004 to present.
Attended formal training at TOP DOG with my second Service Dog Zapata in 2007. Completed program, certified and achieved his CGC in 2008, which led to working as a volunteer with TOP DOG to present. Had the first Great Dane to certify through TOP DOG, Team #91. Zapata was the 2nd Great Dane to certify as a Service Dog in the state of Arizona. Zapata was a prime example of the ideal Mobility dog and also provided his services to others when he saw they needed assistance. The more he worked the more he did from picking up the smallest items to the most delicate with not only a soft mouth, but a dry one. Always at my side and never faltered. We attended many events.
My husband and a friend also completed the TOP DOG program with their Great Danes as Teams #109 and #110. I brought in my 3rd and current Service Dog, Helios, starting class in 2014 certifying in 2015, we are Team #137.
Have volunteered as a TA, provided Distraction Dog for Certification testing. Participate in Events, and have been the Representative for the Phoenix Metro/Maricopa County area for TOP DOG, Inc., Tucson, AZ since 2008. Do Public Access testing and Certifications. Also handle Access Issues.
RC has been training dogs in various venues for over 30 years. RC is also an AKC CGC evaluator and provides Public Access Tests when needed. RC currently has a Beauceron service dog who multi-tasks in mobility, balance, hearing, & medical alert not only for herself, but also her veteran husband. Jeremiah, the Beauceron, has also been trained to assist their autistic son. RC is currently on the board of PhoenixEDS which supports those with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. She is also in the process of obtaining her Masters in Healthcare Innovation and Leadership with ASU online. RC has joined the Top Dog team as the Assistant Training Director.
Sami has been a Top Dog board member since 2012. He is currently serving as Vice President of the Board. Sami was born in Hyderabad, India and was adopted at the age of five. When Sami was eight years old he got his first dog, Ravi. A year later Sami and Ravi began the Top Dog program. Sami was the youngest person to go through Top Dog. In 2004, Sami and Ravi certified as Top Dog Team #78. Before Sami retired Ravi, he started training his second service dog, Ashka. Sami and Ashka certified as Top Dog Team #113 in the summer of 2011 and, one year later, Ravi died of Valley Fever. Sami attained his Associates Degree from Pima Community College and is currently working on a B.A. in Religious Studies and History at the University of Arizona. In addition to his work with Top Dog, he is the Board President of International Child Amputee Network (I-CAN).
Beth joined the Top Dog Board of Directors in 2005. She currently serves as Secretary of the Board and ...page Editor. Her background is in Education with both B.A.E. and M.A.E. degrees, and a M.A. degree in English Linguistics. Beth taught English as a Second Language (ESL) for a number of years. Beth and her husband, Bill, are parents to eight children. Their youngest son, Samir, has trained two dogs, Ravi and Ashka, through the Top Dog service dog training program. In addition to Ashka, their family shares their home with four rescued dogs of various breeds. Beth also enjoys reading, singing in the church choir, gardening, swimming and, of course, walking dogs.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Judy first worked for Chase Manhattan Bank and then later as the assistant manager in the accounting department of a wholesale meat company. In 1972, she moved to Tucson. Utilizing her accounting background, Judy worked for the largest building company in Tucson, and subsequently a local accounting firm. After taking some time off, she worked for a 501c non-profit organization. Her personal life was centered on her German shepherd dogs, which she raised and showed for 28 years. During that time, Judy learned how to run dog shows and matches. Additionally, she did all of the financials for the German Shepherd Dog Club of America Futurity System, which consisted of 9 separate futurities per year. She held this position for 5 years, ending in 2012. Judy currently sits on the Board of Directors as bookkeeper, and her 30 years of accounting experience is invaluable to the organization.
Born in Queens, New York, Bette watched her parents give back to the community. Her various relocations, as an adult, included Tucson, Oak Park, California, and back to Sahuarita, Arizona. These moves provided her opportunities to dispense her own “give back” attitude. During her life, Bette always had dogs, cats, and even an Arabian mare. Her passion for animals and youth, and her deep seeded desire to contribute time and effort, led her to “like” organizations. Bette has pitched in, using her talents and experience as a former journalist for 25 years, to help at number of organization. Her efforts include Special Equestrian Riding Therapy, where her abilities doubled both the client and volunteer base, while she also worked with the horses and disabled clients as an equine therapy assistant. Bette’s aspiration also led her to work with the youth and animals for her local 4H organization, where she developed and led the first-ever Literature Project for 4H youth to improve their writing skills. Each participate in this project took First Place that year at the Ventura County Fair. The curriculum she developed, and handouts she’d designed, were replicated at both the county and state levels. Additionally, Bette led the Veterinary Science Project for 4H. Bette’s strong leadership qualities have piloted her drive. In her new Sahuarita community she started a Book Club, a social group for the communities 55 plus residents, she named the Highland Hippies, and successfully ran the Neighborhood Watch program. Bette also served on the HOA Leadership committee, and re-designed and wrote the community’s newsletter. Here at Top Dog, Bette also re-designed the organization’s newsletter for which she edits and writes. Her goal is to promote the organization, and bolster its name recognition, search out Grants, and design, update, and write for TOP DOG’s pamphlets and training materials. Disabled herself, Bette is grateful for the opportunity to work with TOP DOG.