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2018 Top Obedience Dogs

Top Obedience Dogs - Official 2018 Results

Meet Canada’s Top Obedience Dogs

Though Lee says the two never set out to chase the coveted Top Dog spot, that is exactly where you will find them for the second year in a row. Driven by a shared love of the sport and each other’s company, Lee and Scooter have been competing together for eight years now. No stranger to the Top Dogs program, Lee has placed in the Top 10 multiple times with Scooter’s buddy EZ. Having earned Grand Master Obedience Trial Champion titles on four Miniature Poodles, Lee’s expert guidance has been supporting her students for the last 40 years.

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

#1 – GMOTCh. Belcourt Cool Dude 


1TOD_002-1.jpgCall name: 'Scooter'
Miniature Poodle

Owner/Handler: Lee Kozicki
 
How did you first become involved in obedience trials?
When I was 13 my parents gave my twin and I a dog each with the stipulation that we took the dogs to obedience classes. I must admit my first dog, a German Shepherd, was not very good. This was the beginning of a very long love of obedience.
 
What do you think is the most important thing to remember when training for the obedience ring?
Obedience training is a long-term commitment, so you need to enjoy training as a fun time between you and your dog. Take your time and build a strong foundation.
 

Have you ever had a major setback or misstep, and if so, how did you work through it?
We all have setbacks. If my dog is well prepared, setbacks will be far less. If a problem repeats itself, take a look at the training of that exercise. Sometimes we need to back up and retrain an exercise.
 
What was your most memorable moment in 2018?
Winning back-to-back HITs at the end of a long year with a pair of 200s. The Edmonton Lab trials in September were also memorable. As we watched the club shovel the snow from the rings before we could start, we huddled under an EZ-Up tarp with a propane heater. Scooter’s friend brought him a coat and his crate was buried with blankets. Snug as a bug in a rug as they say!
 
If you were to give advice to someone new to the sport, what have you found to be the most important place to start?
Find a training buddy to help you on this journey. Ask questions from trainers till you find one you like and join a local obedience dog club. Set realistic goals and work towards them. Above all, enjoy your dog. 

 

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


2TOD_001-edited.jpgCall name: 'Edge'
Golden Retriever
Owner/Handler: Rose Apollonio
 
How did you first become involved in obedience trials?
Thirty years ago I went to a canine event at the London Fairgrounds and watched a Sheltie do Utility signals as part of an obedience demonstration. I was impressed with the dog’s focus and wanted to learn how it was done.
 
What do you think is the most important thing to remember when training for the obedience ring?
Never forget the fundamentals, and be patient and consistent in your training.
 
Have you ever had a major setback or misstep, and if so, how did you work through it?
At one show, during the Long Stays, a dogfight broke out next to my dog. Fortunately, he held his sit and did not get hurt, but the stress of the situation really shook his confidence. It took well over a year to break down the exercise and help him work through it.
 
What was your most memorable moment in 2018?
Achieving two perfect scores of 200 in Open on the same day.
 
If you were to give advice to someone new to the sport, what have you found to be the most important place to start?
In obedience you and your dog are a team. You have to learn how to communicate and understand each other. This is a process that takes time, practice and patience. Find a school and/or trainer that can help you to learn how to achieve your goals.


 

#3 – GMOTCh. Heads Up Teknical Knockout CGN


3TOD_001.jpgCall name: 'Techno'
Golden Retriever
Owner/Handler: Keltie R. Lang
 
How did you first become involved in obedience trials?
A Doberman bitch I adopted from the local shelter started me on this journey. Her questionable temperament and sharpness led me to a trainer, who at the time was involved in competition obedience. I quickly developed an interest and began training and competing in the sport.
 
What do you think is the most important thing to remember when training for the obedience ring?
If you want to do well, focus on the details. It’s the details, not the overall picture, that make for a winning performance.
 
Have you ever had a major setback or misstep, and if so, how did you work through it?
I had a problem with Tekno’s go-outs. He started stopping short and lacking the commitment I wanted to see. To resolve this, I used go-outs to his favourite toy as his reward during training sessions. He soon found joy in the exercise again.
 
What was your most memorable moment in 2018?
At a fall trial, another top national competitor had a flawless run just before me. During the run my focus was on needing to beat that performance. The result? I made costly handler errors I’ve never made. The lesson? My focus and intention was in the wrong place. I wanted desperately to beat the competition rather than do my best in handling my dog from exercise to exercise. It was a valuable lesson learned.
 
If you were to give advice to someone new to the sport, what have you found to be the most important place to start?
Watch the top competitors outside and in the ring. Watch how they focus, warm up and engage with their dog. Find someone who’s work you admire to train with. Work hard, follow their coaching advice and have fun on the way.


 

#4 – Ch. & GMOTCh. Lions' Pride Of Makaila CGN, WC


4TOD_002-1.jpgCall name: 'Geroy'
Labrador Retriever
Owner/Handler: Shirley North
 
How did you first become involved in obedience trials?
My first Labrador ‘Marcus’ and I started in pet classes and then participated in Musical Freestyle. We then ended up trialing in competitive obedience in 2004 and finished our OTCH in 2009.
 
What do you think is the most important thing to remember when training for the obedience ring?
As my coach Keltie Lang always says, “It’s in the details.”
 
Have you ever had a major setback or misstep, and if so, how did you work through it?
I’ve had many. Most of the time, starting over and retraining the exercise is the way to go.
 
What was your most memorable moment in 2018?
Geroy finished his GMOTCH in the fall of 2018. This is my second dog to do so. Geroy finished his at the young age of five.
 
If you were to give advice to someone new to the sport, what have you found to be the most important place to start?
I think having a great coach is very important whether you are a newbie or a veteran in this sport. That combined with a canine partner who is willing and trainable is the other essential element.


 

#5 – GMOTCh. Spirit's Dashing Son Of Zoom


5TOD_001-credit-Jeffrey-Jackson.jpgCall name: 'Dash'
Golden Retriever
Owner/Handler: Ward Falkner
 
How did you first become involved in obedience trials?
I had previously attended obedience classes and became interested in training techniques and how dogs learn. It was a natural progression to using this information to achieve obedience titles and meet the challenge and competition provided by obedience trials.

 What do you think is the most important thing to remember when training for the obedience ring?

Fundamentals! Too often the fundamental steps in training a behaviour are glossed over and this eventually comes back to haunt the handler. Don’t look for the ‘quick fix.’ Build a strong training foundation that will carry you through the difficult times.


Have you ever had a major setback or misstep, and if so, how did you work through it?
All trainers have setbacks. When encountering a difficulty, the handler should always go back to the beginning and revisit how the behaviour was taught. If the early training foundation is strong, this return to basics will be short-lived.

What was your most memorable moment in 2018?
Dash winning High in Trial at the Golden Retriever Club of Canada National Specialty. This was the sixth time in six entries that one of my dogs has won this particular HIT – four with ‘Zoom’ and two with Dash. It’s always a thrill to win HIT at the national specialty.

 If you were to give advice to someone new to the sport, what have you found to be the most important place to start?
Heeling! And make it fun! This sport is about building a bond with your dog. When one goes to a trial, it’s with your best friend. Win or lose, you’ll return with that same best friend. Enjoy the journey.



(Photo Credit: Jeffrey Jackson)


 

#6 – MOTCh. Marron's Sandria


6TOD_001-edited.jpgCall name: 'Cu-Jo'
Papillon
Owner/Handler: Dianne Thomas
 
How did you first become involved in obedience trials?
In 1988, I got my third Shih Tzu – a little spitfire. My vet suggested I take her to obedience classes. Every class we took, she would graduate in first place. A friend I met at classes talked me in to entering a trial. ‘Mitsu’ got her Novice obedience title in three trials and we never looked back.
 
What do you think is the most important thing to remember when training for the obedience ring?
Have fun. The bond you develop with your dog through the many hours of training lasts for the rest of the dog’s life. I have trained five dogs and each one has left an eternal pawprint on my heart.
 
Have you ever had a major setback or misstep, and if so, how did you work through it?
For me, adding a new dog to the pack set the problem in motion. Mitsu was so heart broken, she had to share her mom, she started breaking all of her sit-stays. We had to go back to the beginning. I would leave her on a sit-stay and walk around her, gradually building the distance and time. The next step was the out-of-sight stays. It took a long time, probably three to four months.
 
What was your most memorable moment in 2018?
At the Belleville trials in March, my nine-year-old Cu-Jo earned his MOTCH title.
 
If you were to give advice to someone new to the sport, what have you found to be the most important place to start?
First and foremost have fun and bond with your dog. Most puppy classes today are wonderful. Puppies are learning exercises they will use all the way to Utility.

(Photo credit: Anne Raszewski)
 

#7 – Ch., GMOTCh. & GMH Zaniri Letter By Letter WCX


7TOD_002-edited.jpgCall name: 'Scrabble'
Golden Retriever

Owner/Handler: Leanne Tucker
 
How did you first become involved in obedience trials?
After getting my first Golden Retriever, I attended my first dog show. I ventured upstairs and watched the most magnificent Golden Retriever strutting his stuff in the obedience ring. I wanted to do THAT! As it turned out I was watching Jackie Hastie. My mom convinced her to let this 13-year-old kid into her classes. ‘Kroosh’ became my first OTCH dog when I was 16.
 
What do you think is the most important thing to remember when training for the obedience ring?
Make your training fun. Keep your dog physically fit, mentally challenged, incorporate games into your training and don’t be predictable or boring!
 


Have you ever had a major setback or misstep, and if so, how did you work through it?
We also compete in hunt tests and I found some of his foundation training for hunt tests interfered with his scent-article work. Trying to get his mind settled to scent his articles instead of just grabbing one was a challenge. We do articles almost daily!
 
What was your most memorable moment in 2018?
Earning both Grand Master Hunter and Grand Master Obedience Trial Champion titles. I’m so proud of this awesome boy.
 
If you were to give advice to someone new to the sport, what have you found to be the most important place to start?
Find a puppy that has the desire to play the game. Research breeders who produce dogs with stable temperaments and a natural desire to work. I believe pedigrees with working dogs in them are important. Go to an obedience trial and watch. Find out where the successful teams train, sign up for classes and be prepared to put in a lot of work! 


 

#8 – GMOTCh. Taygold's Gyro Scopes It Out RE, WC


Call name: 'Gyro'
Golden Retreiver
Owners: Ellie Beals & David Skinner
Handler: David Skinner
 
From David: 
"Looking back on the last seven years in which we have occupied an obedience Top 10 spot has been a great privilege for team Gyro. And sadly it will probably be our last time listed amongst that stellar group of competitors, as we now ease into our obedience semi-retirement. My wonderful, cool and consistent nine-year-old boy has more than earned a break.
 
Top 10 performance was never our goal. Instead it arose on its own as a natural byproduct of the pursuit of excellence. Much credit for our good fortune goes to the example set by other outstanding obedience teams.
 
As ‘students’ of this game we always come away from any competition with new and creative training ideas and admiration for excellent performances. Always aiming to ‘raise the bar,’ our fellow competitors have been endlessly generous in helping us.
 
So, Ellie and I would like to use this opportunity to shout a sincere thanks to our many Top 10 obedience colleagues, many of whom we now count as friends, for their kindness, generosity, encouragement, training help and great competitive challenges. Thank you all so much.  It has been a great ride!"


 

#9 – MOTCh. Kriscoland Falconwood Guardian CGN, RE


9TOD_001.jpgCall name: 'Ella'
Labrador Retriever
Owner/Handler: Louise Falconer
 
How did you first become involved in obedience trials?
With each dog I’ve owned, I’ve always done puppy and beginner classes. At an early age, Ella showed she was an eager worker and up for the challenge, so we pursued higher levels of obedience and subsequently entered trials.
 

What do you think is the most important thing to remember when training for the obedience ring?
Engagement is one of the most important things. If the dog is to be 100% engaged with you, you must be 100% engaged with them. Positive reinforcement, play and encouragement are all skills that will lead to a winning relationship.
 
Have you ever had a major setback or misstep, and if so, how did you work through it?
I reached a plateau with Ella in training for Open. I sought out, and found, a team of professional dog coaches who showed me other methods of training, introducing me to play, fun and laughter, and who continue to be not only mentors, but my best friends.
 
What was your most memorable moment in 2018?
When Ella achieved her OTCH title in three consecutive runs, outdoors, in muggy hot weather and pouring rain! Two months to the day, she got her OTCHX and MOTCH titles!
 
If you were to give advice to someone new to the sport, what have you found to be the most important place to start?
I think selecting the right training program, taking the time to work it through thoroughly, and then connecting with a professional dog coach to complement your basic training skills, would be my advice to a beginner obedience enthusiast.


 

#10 – MOTCh. Topiary Little Black Tornado


10TOD_001.jpgCall name: 'LB'
Miniature Poodle 
Owner/Handler: Heather Box

How did you first become involved in obedience trials?
I dabbled in the sport of obedience with many dogs of different breeds. In 1995, my Papillon, Glenmargo’s Fancy Red Lace was Top Toy obedience dog in Canada. Now retired, I have time on my hands and a Miniature Poodle by my side.
 
What do you think is the most important thing to remember when training for the obedience ring?
The most important exercises are: Heeling, fronts, and finishes. Work on them. Make it a game for your dog. Your score sheets will tell you what to work on between trials.
 
Have you ever had a major setback or misstep, and if so, how did you work through it?
I have a sight impediment, so have never been able to obtain a driver’s licence. Getting to dog training facilities in the early years was difficult. Thankfully, over the years, wonderful friends have helped me.
 
What was your most memorable moment in 2018?
The Utility scent article exercise is an easy one for my dog, but at the last trial of the season, LB was having a bad nose day! LB went to the article pile and kept picking up and dropping the same article over and over. I remember thinking, “Just bring something, anything back.” She finally did bring the correct article back with a perfect front and finish. The rest of the exercises were stellar. LB is simply not talking about the issue. ‘The Secrets of the Snout’ from that day are her’s alone.
 
If you were to give advice to someone new to the sport, what have you found to be the most important place to start?
Find a good trainer and a training partner. Another person’s feedback on how you are doing is very helpful. 
 

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