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2017 Top Obedience Dogs

Top Obedience Dogs - Official 2017 Results

Meet Canada’s Top Obedience Dogs

Scooter and Lee’s seven-year partnership has resulted in several appearances in the Top 10, but 2017 will be a year to remember as they reached the coveted top-dog spot, a first for both dog and handler. Lee has enjoyed a long passion for obedience, placing in the Top 10 multiple times with Scooter’s buddy EZ, earning Grand Master Obedience Trial Champion titles on four Miniature Poodles and spending the last 40 years passing her knowledge on to her students. 

We had a chat with each of the ten TOP DOGS who shed some light on their most memorable victories and quirky anecdotes – here are their interviews:
 

#1 - GMOTCh. Belcourt Cool Dude


1-Scooter-Poodle-Kozicki-interview.jpgCall name: “Scooter”
Miniature Poodle
Owner/Handler: Lee Kozicki
 
How long have you been training this dog? I got Scooter at nine weeks and he started training a week later, so seven years. All my dogs start doing puppy training early. Just fun stuff like following a cookie, running to a go-out spot, chasing toys, jumping little hurdles and learning sit, down and come. It is amazing how fast puppies can learn stuff.
 
Most memorable moment in 2017? Lots of memories for this year but getting two 200 scores from two different judges in one weekend has to be a high note, and finishing the year with another 200 shows the character of this little dog. Weather was a big part of November travels here on the prairies. And friends offering to throw dirt from the arena floor on Scooter at our last trial, as they felt he was tooooo clean.
 
Do you have a pre-ring ritual? Since Scooter has been trialled a lot over the past three years, he has a very short warm-up. I do a little heeling, sometimes a quick retrieve on leash or a couple of fronts, and then in we go. He knows the cookies are on my chair so he races to his crate after the ringwork is done for his reward.
 
What does your dog love to do when he is not in the ring? Scooter loves playing ball in the park or on the beach with his buddy and snuggling on the couch with me when the day is done.
 
How do you keep your dog’s performance fresh and sharp? I keep my training sessions upbeat with lots of praise and treats. If he is wrong, he gets corrected, and if he is right, he is praised. I think dogs understand when things are black and white. He loves to hear “Good boy,” and tries hard to be right.
 
What drew you to the sport of obedience? I love working with animals. As a teenager my parents gave my twin sister and I a dog to train and look after. We went to obedience classes and the more the dogs learned, the more hooked we became. My first classes were with Clarence Zimmerman, who was a judge at the time. Years later he would jokingly say if you had a dollar for every trial you have been in, you would be a wealthy woman. I think I am very fortunate to have a hobby that has lasted this long. Whether teaching classes or trialling my own dogs, I love being with my dogs.
 

#2 –GMOTCh. Tanbark’s High Rolling Player RAE


2-Edge-Golden-Apollonio.jpgCall name: “Edge”
Golden Retriever
Owner/Handler: Rose Apollonio
 
How long have you been training this dog? I’ve had Edge since he was seven weeks old. Shaping exercises began once he got settled into his new home, and it’s been a steady progression since then.
 
Most memorable moment in 2017? At an AKC trial last spring Edge got his UD title in three straight attempts, achieved a UDX leg and three High in Trials all in one weekend.
 
Do you have a pre-ring ritual? Edge has his own form of canine meditation. It’s called a belly-rub – upside-down at my feet, paws crossed – shortly before he goes into the ring.
 
What does your dog love to do when he is not in the ring? Edge loves to play with his boomer ball in the backyard. He’ll do that for hours if I let him.
 
How do you keep your dog’s performance fresh and sharp? We keep it light and fun, with lots of interaction and doing new things... and, yes, canine meditation. Namaste.
 
What drew you to the sport of obedience? I’m competitive by nature and I thought that it would be a great way to spend time and interact with my dog.

#3 – GMOTCh. Spirit’s Dashing Son Of Zoom


3-Dash-Golden-Falkner.jpgCall name: “Dash”
Golden Retriever
Owner/Handler: Ward Falkner
 
How long have you been training this dog? I’ve been training Dash for five years. We started when he was two months old.
 
Most memorable moment in 2017? The most memorable moment occurred when we again won High in Trial and High Combined Score at the Golden Retriever Clubs of Greater Los Angeles Specialty in Indio, California.
 
Do you have a pre-ring ritual? Yes. I normally try to work through each exercise, or a variation thereof, in close proximity to my dog. If I anticipate a potential problem, I try to rework it immediately before entering the ring.
 
What does your dog love to do when he is not in the ring? Run, run, run – like the wind! Of course, retrieving.
 
How do you keep your dog’s performance fresh and sharp? By building in the dog’s mind during training sessions, a constant expectation that good things are about to happen: toy, treat or me pushing, pulling and playing with him – hands on.
 
What drew you to the sport of obedience? Since childhood, I have always been fascinated by dogs and animals in general. This love of animals lead me to pursue a doctorate degree in zoology. My interest in obedience evolved as I gained a knowledge of how animals learned and behaved. A very obvious application of this knowledge was in the sport of obedience.
 

#4 – GMOTCh. Taygold’s Gyro Scopes It Out RE, WC


4-Gyro-Golden-Skinner.jpgCall name: “Gyro”
Golden Retriever
Owners: Ellie Beals & David Skinner
Handler: David Skinner
 
How long have you been training this dog? Gyro has been training for almost eight years now.
 
Most memorable moment in 2017? To cool Gyro on a savagely hot day before the Long Sit exercise, I sat him on the car’s front seat in front of the air-conditioning running full blast. Nevertheless he failed the exercise. Driving home we noticed that the seat heater was on! My “stupid handler” award of the year!
 
Do you have a pre-ring ritual? Gyro does a goofy dog trick that we only perform prior to entering the ring, signalling to him that it is work time. He gets a “happy face” and I get a relaxing laugh.
 
What does your dog love to do when he is not in the ring? He loves his Kong, Frisbee or bumper. Gyro is a really cheap date!
 
How do you keep your dog’s performance fresh and sharp? As a rare competing married couple, Ellie and I enjoy the advantage of coaching each other, which stimulates lots of training creativity. We often work each other’s dogs, salt our training with fun and laughter, and challenge our dogs with crazy games and exercises that we invent.
 
What drew you to the sport of obedience? From a lifetime learning from and teaching people, I have never found such an interesting challenge as in training dogs. Training motivates us. Competition success is just a by-product of our joyful canine relationships.
 

#5 – Ch. & MOTCh. Pinebank We Will Rock You CGN, RE, TDX, MH, WCX


5-Rockxy-Labrador-Bell-1.jpgCall name: “Rockxy”
Labrador Retriever
Owner/Handler: Susie Bell
 
How long have you been training this dog? I have been training Rockxy since she was eight weeks of age, and she has also been training me since she was eight weeks of age.
 
Most memorable moment in 2017? All of 2017 was memorable – the camaraderie of my fellow competitors, watching Del and Sharon achieve their goals, and getting GMOTCH legs, especially on the last weekend in Sudbury when Rockxy was on her game, earning a GMOTCH leg with a score of 199½.
 
Do you have a pre-ring ritual? After setting up at the trial site, we casually walk and heel around the venue, and then she gets to relax. Just before we enter the ring, Rockxy does her stretch, then I stretch her, rub her all over and give her a brushing. I give her a treat for a front, we do a little quiet heeling, I give her a hug and then into the ring.
 
What does your dog love to do when he is not in the ring? When we are not in the ring, Rockxy loves to steal my hat or gloves and dance in front of me as if to say, “Pay attention to me.” She is also a great cuddler on the couch and loves to retrieve her ducks!
 
How do you keep your dog’s performance fresh and sharp? Keeping Rockxy sharp keeps me on my toes. I try to be innovative with my training to make it fun and not be boring. I also ask Marie Sawford my coach for suggestions.
 
What drew you to the sport of obedience? I remember watching a German Shepherd at an outdoor show at the Oakville Arena carrying a box with articles in it. Then I watched the dog do the scent articles and I thought that was terrific! With my second Labrador from Sandy Briggs I started obedience training with the Oakville & District Kennel Club. I have learned a lot from my start in 1974 and I am still learning.

#6 – GMOTCh. Meadowpond Goldunn Kaldora CGN, RA


6-Dora-Golden-Lunn.jpgCall name: “Dora”
Golden Retriever
Owner/Handler: Del Lunn
 
How long have you been training this dog? I have been training Dory for 7-1/2 years, but have been involved in the sport since 1978.
 
Most memorable moment in 2017? Winning my Grand Master Obedience Trial Champion title in Windsor, Ontario, which I have never won before.
 
Do you have a pre-ring ritual? I take her for a little walk around the trial site to get her used to the surroundings.
 
What does your dog love to do when she is not in the ring? She loves to be with us and loves people. She is always very gentle.
 
How do you keep your dog’s performance fresh and sharp? I have found it works best to not overtrain her. Once she completes an exercise, I try to break off and do something outside the box just to get her mind on something else.
 
What drew you to the sport of obedience? I attended an obedience trial and was taken aback by the well-trained dogs and the competition. There is no sport like competitive obedience in that it shows your hard work and dedication has paid off. There is always the desire to do better, which motivates you to reach your goals. It is a sport that the more you put into it the more you get out of it.
 

#7 – MOTCh. Heads Up Teknical Kockout CGN


7-Tekno-Golden-Lang.jpgCall name: “Tekno”
Golden Retriever
Owner/Handler: Keltie R. Lang
 
How long have you been training this dog? I started training Tekno from the day I brought him home. His competition obedience training began when he was four months old.
 
Most memorable moment in 2017? My fondest memory of 2017 is going to the Tyee Kennel Club trials in September. With my two previous Top 10 dogs, I travelled extensively to out-of-town trials. Tekno hadn’t had that luxury, so going to the Tyee trials in Duncan was our first road trip together. It was a fabulous bonding experience. Tekno was a wonderful travel companion and it was so nice to see all my fellow competitors and friends on Vancouver Island.
 
Do you have a pre-ring ritual? I always arrive at the venue early to settle Tekno and warm up his heelwork. I warm up fronts and finishes and work on any weaknesses at the time. I find dogs remember the last thing practised when entering the ring.
 
What does your dog love to do when he is not in the ring? Tekno’s favourite activity is training. Every Friday I leave my other two dogs at home so he and I can have a full afternoon alone. We have a long training session, which includes a lot of play and cuddle time. It’s always the highlight of his week.
 
How do you keep your dog’s performance fresh and sharp? This is the most challenging aspect of campaigning a dog. When a dog goes in the ring over and over again, the handler is bound to see deterioration in their dog’s performance because you can’t fix mistakes in the ring. Training is all about maintenance and problem solving. I make a point of balancing the pressure of being a top performance dog with a lot of play, try to make boring drills fun and rarely train the actual exercises.
 
What drew you to the sport of obedience? The bond between dog and handler is what initially drew me to the sport and is what keeps me involved. I also like the competitive aspect of it. There is a thrill to working towards your personal best and achieving it.
 

#8 – MOTCh. Tersha’s Viva Las Vegas CGN, RAE


8-Vegas-GSD-Smith.jpgCall name: “Vegas”
German Shepherd
Owner/Handler: Sharon Smith
 
How long have you been training this dog? I have been training Vegas for six years.
 
Most memorable moment in 2017? Our annual trip to Bermuda to trial and vacation with my dog.
 
Do you have a pre-ring ritual? Five minutes of fun warm-up exercises.
 
What does your dog love to do when he is not in the ring? Hang out with me in the house or play ball.
 
How do you keep your dog’s performance fresh and sharp? By trying to remember that this is supposed to be fun and to enjoy spending time with your dog. Look at the positive things that happened and try not to dwell on the failures.
 
What drew you to the sport of obedience? I have wanted to do obedience with German Shepherds since I was a young girl and attended the local shows and trials in Woodstock. 
 

#9 – GMOTCh. Riveron’s Caesar RAE3, MH, WCX


9-Caesar-Labrador-Watt.jpgCall name: “Caesar”
Labrador Retriever
Owners: Heather Watt & Kevin Ross
Handler: Heather Watt
 
Most memorable moment in 2017? Nothing stands out between the various trials, although some of the runoffs were fun. The blooper that I remember best was at one particular competition where we were running between the rally and obedience rings. I ended up being needed in both rings at the same time. The obedience judge was nice enough to wait for me before putting us through an Open routine followed immediately by the Long Stays. So, I ran into the rally ring, sped through the routine, and as I was leaving the ring, the judge told me that the timer hadn’t worked.
 
Do you have a pre-ring ritual? I usually take Caesar outside one or two dogs before our turn, play with a tug toy, and review a bit of heeling. When the team before us is nearly done, I will work a few fronts and finishes, and then gather my equipment.
 
What does your dog love to do when he’s not in the ring? Retrieve, retrieve, retrieve. He lives to retrieve (on land and in the water). Even when it is obvious that he is tired, he asks to run again.
 
How do you keep your dog’s performance fresh and sharp? I’ve been taking private lessons to help me become more animated and playful in both my training and handling in the ring. We tend to do dynamic drills, mix things up, or work on pieces of exercises rather than running through entire exercises.
 
What drew you to the sport of obedience? It was an accident. I started taking obedience classes to help me gain control for our field training. At one point, the trainer suggested I try a fun match. The rest is history…
 
Do you have a mentor? I have several mentors. The first one is my local trainer, Gail Wormington, who is an obedience and rally judge. She has been coaching us since day one and is the reason I am in this sport. My other two mentors are two strong competitors who have been in the Top 10 for many years – Ellie Beals and David Skinner. They have helped me add in some fun to our training and continue to improve my relationship with Caesar. The best thing about my mentors is that they are always ready to share their knowledge and support/cheer their students on, even when they surpass their teachers.
 

#10 – GMOTCh. Taygold’s Brawlroom Dancer WCI, RE


10-Fracas-Golden-Beals.jpgCall name: “Fracas”
Golden Retriever
Owner: Ellie Beals and David Skinner
Handler: Ellie Beals
 
How long have you been training this dog? We started training the day eight-week-old Fracas joined our household. Working with him has been pure joy ever since.
 
Most memorable moment in 2017? In one of our last trials of the season, my dumbbell took a bad bounce, landing barely 10 feet past the jump, but a good 15 feet to the left of it. After taking the jump and grabbing the dumbbell, Fracas turned left for his return. “We’re done,” I said to myself. But instead my almost 11-year-old came all the way back and took the jump from a standstill.
 
Do you have a pre-ring ritual? Before every class, Frac and I sit quietly together. Shortly before we’re on, we do a heeling warm-up and then cruise into the ring as the final part of our warm-up.
 
What does your dog love to do when he is not in the ring? This boy loves everything – hiking, swimming, skiing. As long as he’s accompanying me, he is happy.
 
How do you keep your dog’s performance fresh and sharp? My husband David and I have developed a series of dynamic drills designed to maintain the excitement and commitment of experienced dogs. These drills fold the targeted skill or routine into the extremely challenging and varied heeling that all of our dogs love.
 
What drew you to the sport of obedience? I got into obedience for the communication challenge, and how much it augmented the normal bonding process.
 
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