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2019 Top Rally Dogs

Top Rally Dogs – Official Results

Meet Canada's Top Rally Dogs

Fast-moving and upbeat, rally is a sport that demonstrates the competency of both handler and dog in performing basic obedience exercises without requiring exact precision for success. Watching a CKC rally event will make you truly understand the meaning of the word teamwork.

Drawn to the sport because of its relaxed atmosphere, Louise Lorrain and her Standard Poodle Keisha claimed the #1 spot in 2019! Keisha showed her talents early on, and her amazing bond with Louise propels the two to keep scoring high.

We had a chat with each of the Top Rally Dog teams who share their memorable victories and tips. Here are their interviews.

#1 – RGCh. Kushnivas Hoodwinked The Devil CGN RMX5 CD RAE5

Call Name: Keisha
Standard Poodle
Owner/Handler: Louise Lorrain
Breeders: Rod & Jane Beaudry
What initially drew you to the sport of rally? I was extremely nervous in the obedience ring, so I tried rally to gain experience in a more relaxed environment where I was free to talk to my dog. I loved it!

How and when did you get started? Keisha is my first performance dog. Her breeders were active in obedience and rally, as well as conformation. They encouraged me to take obedience classes with my puppy, and I really enjoyed it. Jane invited me to train with her and taught me the rally fundamentals. Keisha continued obedience training, but my heart is in the rally ring. She earned her Rally Excellent in 2016. After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, we took two years off from competition. In 2019, she earned her Rally Grand Champion. It has been quite a journey.

Did Keisha show early potential?  Very much so. As a very young puppy still with her breeders, she loved to play with the tunnels and wobble boards, retrieved toys, and had already learned sit, down and come. I realized early on that I was going to have to keep her busy brain occupied.

How can someone interested in rally learn more?  Find a mentor or a club that offers rally lessons. Once trials are open to spectators again, watch teams in the ring or, even better, volunteer at a trial. There are also many videos online. 

What keeps you motivated? Keisha and I have a very strong bond, and she loves showing off in the rally ring.
What is Keisha up to these days? Keisha has taken on several pandemic projects while we have taken a break from competing. She has earned her Trick Dog Champion title, and has started scent detection classes. Most importantly, she is helping to raise her little sister Abby.

#2 – Rockstar's Chaos Theory SDN CD RAE9

Call Name: Random
Owners: Heather & Bradley Parsons
Handler: Heather Parsons
Breeder: Pamela Fisher

What initially drew you to the sport of rally? Rally first appealed to me when I was trialling with my Italian Greyhound. The ability to talk to him and encourage him was very beneficial.

How and when did you get started? My Italian Greyhound was my first competitive obedience dog. He achieved his OTCHX, but where he really shined was in the rally ring. He and I did a lot of rally 15 years ago. 

Did Random show early potential?  Absolutely. Random loves to learn anything new. She is a keen and eager worker and tons of fun to work with. It was clear to me as a pup that she would be an excellent obedience/rally partner.

How can someone interested in rally learn more? When trials can allow spectators again, it is a great idea to go and watch different dogs compete. You will see different working styles and get an idea of how handlers and dogs need to work as a team. I would encourage anyone to attend a rally class with their dog, even if they never plan to compete. It is a great experience to work together through a course.

What keeps you motivated? I have goals specific to each of my dogs, which helps keep me motivated to train every day and keep polishing our skills.

What is Random up to these days? Random loves her daily off-leash hike in the woods. We regularly get out bikejoring on our local trails. We hope to be able to attend some rally trials this year as well as scentwork and some more agility.

#3 – RCh. Valubal One Broke Girl CD

Call Name: Lily
Old English Sheepdog
Owners: Katherine Ball & Valerie Bandas
Handler: Katherine Ball
Breeders: Valerie Bandas & Lavella Shaw
What initially drew you to the sport of rally? I actually stumbled across the sport by accident, but quickly got hooked! I enrolled in a rally class as a way to keep up our training when I was unable to find a suitable formal obedience class to follow Lily’s beginner/novice classes. I discovered that rally is a great deal of fun for dogs and handlers. In addition to training the exercises, I really enjoy the strategy involved in successfully navigating a course. The emphasis on teamwork between dog and handler while still valuing precision makes this sport really special, and allows each dog to be worked in a way that suits their needs. This is great for building confidence and keeping the dog engaged. There is nothing better than working with a happy, engaged and reliable teammate!

How and when did you get started? I attended my first rally class at the Regina Kennel and Obedience Club with Lily in 2016. We attended our first trial in December of the same year.

Did Lily show early potential? Yes, Lily is a quick learner and enjoyed the variety of exercises. She is very precise, which is important for taking larger dogs through some of the more intricate courses.

How can someone interested in rally learn more? There is some basic information on the CKC website, and people can certainly get a better idea about the sport by watching CKC-approved trials (in non-COVID times), but it is much better to actually try the sport for yourself! There are numerous CKC-affiliated clubs that host instructional classes, and I strongly recommend participating in an introductory class.

What keeps you motivated? I really enjoy spending time training my dogs, and trialling gives me a good reason to prioritize training regularly. Continuing to develop as a team, particularly where it is obvious that the dog enjoys the work, is incredibly rewarding.

What is Lily up to these days?  Lily has been earning American rally titles through the AKC’s virtual rally program, as well as working on trick dog titles. Lily also continues to practise formal obedience exercises. Most importantly, she keeps busy bringing joy to the people around her!

#3 – GMOTCh. RCh. Diaz Chien Policier

Call Name: Diaz
Belgian Shepherd
Owner/Handler: Sharon Otto
Breeder: Brigit Hall
What initially drew you to the sport of Rally? I start all my dogs in rally. It’s a beginning to the performance ring. 

How and when did you get started? Started about 10 years ago in rally.

Did Diaz show early potential?  I actually didn't have high hopes for Diaz when we first started. She didn't like the control.
How can someone interested in rally learn more? Watch.
What keeps you motivated?  When I can see the dog progressing and getting perfect scores, I know we're ready for the obedience ring. 
What is Diaz up to these days? Diaz is retired now and enjoying the farm life.

#4 – Ch. AgMCh. Eauchien's Quinta NP JTX CDX TD RAE2 RMX AgMX3 AgIJ AgXJ AgMXJ3 ETD

Call Name: Quinta
Portuguese Water Dog
Owners: Tammy Hibberson & Leslie McCracken
Handler: Tammy Hibberson
Breeders: Leslie McCracken & Tammy Hibberson
What initially drew you to the sport of rally? Wanting to compete in my breed's U.S. national specialty's versatility competition was the reason I initially tried rally. At the PWDCA Specialty, Quinta won the Rally High Combined Award and also became that year's Superdog with the aid of her HC rally points.   
How and when did you get started? We entered our first CKC rally trial in April 2017, after participating in a local rally class.  
Did Quinta show early potential?  Quinta's mother, Alee, competed in rally at the Novice level, with my 86-year-old mother, so maybe helping humans in the rally ring was in Quinta's DNA.
How can someone interested in rally learn more? Rally enthusiasts are very helpful. At my first CKC trial, I met someone with multiple RAEs and she continued to be generous with her encouragement and advice as Quinta and I continued in the sport. I learned from the people who were already competing and training in rally; they were really supportive with feedback and suggestions for training and for trialling. 

What keeps you motivated? Although rally has never been one of my favourite dog sports, it's helped me reach a couple of my dog-sport goals, like earning the Superdog title at our breed's national specialty.  One of the reasons I competed in CKC rally was because I wanted our rally ranking to support my quest for Quinta to become the CKC's top Multi-Discipline Dog. My fingers are still crossed for this outcome as we participated in CKC agility and obedience, in addition to rally, in 2019.
What is Quinta up to these days? With COVID restrictions limiting group training and competition opportunities, we've been pursuing some online titling venues. Over the past year, Quinta has earned all the parkour titles available from IDPKA. We took advantage of the Outdoor Dog organization's titling opportunities for a variety of outdoor pursuit titles in hiking, boating and swimming.  There are some rally organizations that offer online titling, too, but we haven't yet pursued any virtual rally titles.

#5 – RGCh. Goldunn Fly'n First Class RMX5 CGN CDX RAE11

Call name: Ace
Golden Retriever
Owners: Charlie & Joan MacMillan, Pat Gorgerat (2020)
Handler: Charlie MacMillan 
Breeder: Del Lunn 
In 2020 the dog world lost a remarkable individual with the passing of Charlie MacMillan. Charlie impacted the lives of so many, and much of the success of the sport of rally in Canada is due to his contributions.

In Charlie's stead, Pat Gorgerat accepted the #5 spot:

“I am honoured to accept #5 Top Rally Dog Award on Charlie's behalf. Charlie MacMillan's love, passion and commitment for dog trialling was beyond measure. He was a master in the field; a modest sportsman as well as a gentleman who enriched the sport of rally and obedience in Canada and the U.S. He always trained with "love" and with enthusiasm. He was a mentor to many and an encouraging teacher, rooting on his competitors and novice handlers. With his wife, Joan, by his side they travelled to many, many trials over the decades. Enthusiasts and ambassadors encouraging, inspiring and demonstrating their authentic love for the sport. Their dogs loved showing as much as they did and always entered the ring wagging tails, worked wagging tails and exited wagging tails no matter the outcome.
Achieving Top Rally Dog awards consecutively from 2011 to 2019 as well as Top Obedience Dog awards from 2010 to 2015 is an unprecedented feat. Charlie also placed 1st at the AKC Rally Inaugural Invitational in 2013.”
How and when did you get started? (Top Dogs 2016 Interview) The first dog that I trained was the family dog in the late 1950s that was purposely for hunting. It wasn't until the early 1970s that I was introduced to obedience training and titling a dog. When he died from cancer, Joan and I said "no more dogs".  Within a month, Mac was purchased. He became CKC's Top Obedience Dog in 1992.
Did Ace show early potential?(From Del Lunn, Ace's breeder) The pairing of Dory and Fly'R was a match made in heaven. I kept a close eye on the puppies as they developed. Charlie conducted the formal testing and I concurred on Ace being the best prospect. It certainly paid off. Unfortunately his career with Charlie on lead was cut short as Ace was well on his way to meeting the accolades of his father.
How can someone interested in rally learn more? (Top Dogs 2016 Interview) First, work on heeling. You cannot have a good rally dog without having a good heeling dog. Second, get someone who knows rally to show you how each exercise should be performed and then make sure that you and your dog are comfortable with each exercise. If I could find rally fun matches or courses to run I would. Then, I would go out and enjoy showing at rally competitions.
What keeps you motivated? (From Pat Gorgerat) Unfortunately, we will never know. Charlie had an unprecedented desire and passion for trialling. He brought out the best in his dogs and trained them to excel. He had an uncanny ability to understand what would turn them on and made training fun and positive. He also had a marital partnership that supported, encouraged and celebrated trialling.
What is Ace up to these days? (From Pat Gorgerat) Ace has adjusted very well to his new family.  Although wrestling and chasing his brother Deuce is always on the agenda. Naps under Pat's work desk has become a daily ritual. Watch for us in the show ring one day soon.

#6 – Romeo RM CD RAE4 HT

Call Name: Romeo
Australian Cattle Dog
Owner/Handler: Dena Denali
Breeder: Unknown
What initially drew you to the sport of rally? Romeo’s bad behaviours, really... and the service menu at our local training centre. I had never seen it before and he needed something to do to keep Romeo out of trouble.
How and when did you get started? Romeo was mistreated by a backyard breeder and had many behavioural issues. As a result, I had him in back-to-back obedience, rally, agility and scent detection classes from 12 weeks to 3½ years of age with no intention of ever competing. I started showing my CKC-registered Australian Cattle Dog in 2018 and I entered Romeo at age five in his first rally trial to keep him busy.
Did Romeo show early potential?  He’s an Australian Cattle Dog so he has a natural aptitude for work; however, he was a disruptive compulsive barker and lacked focus. The classes we took and ongoing practice helped him to become a more balanced dog.
How can someone interested in rally learn more? I’d suggest seeking out local mentors who actually compete or judge to help refine your skills. By practising tricks in unusual places like in the middle of a dog walk or in retail stores like Canadian Tire, you will quickly learn how much distraction your dog can take and how much he really knows when you test the skills out of context.  
What keeps you motivated? An Australian Cattle Dog will ask you every day until they die, “Are you still in charge today?  If not, I’ve got this, so hold my beer and watch this!” Subsequently, if you do not give your Australian Cattle Dog something to focus on, they will find one of their own and you may not like it!  Romeo is no exception. 
What is Romeo up to these days? Romeo entertains my clients with tricks on demand, plays fetch and mentors my young pups with his salty fun-police rules. Sadly Romeo’s poor conformation has forced him into early retirement at only eight years old. Even though rally jumps are much lower than in obedience, he started ticking the jumps by the third day of competing in late 2019. On further investigation, I discovered he was getting sore though there was no specific injury, just premature aging. It’s a testament to investing in a well-bred dog with good conformation when competing in dog sports. He’s still a pretty young dog with a huge amount of training, experience and mental maturity, but his career is over far too soon.

#7 – Kibergo Royal Lad CDX RAE

Call Name: Kingsley
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Owner/Handler: Jennifer McLean
Breeder: Brigitte Flach
What initially drew you to the sport of rally? I fell into rally completely by accident. I started doing it with my first dog Riley to add some more variety into his competitive career. I gave it a try and loved it. There are so many different moving parts to it and it is never boring. I find it so challenging and fun and I just love the flow of the courses.

How and when did you get started? I got started in the sport about 10 years ago with my first dog, and decided to try it with Kingsley. I started with Kingsley in obedience and I believe that gave us a really nice foundation. About two years into Kingsley’s competition career, I found that the stress of competitive obedience was taking a toll on him and he wasn’t having any fun, so I decided to get him into rally and everything completely changed. He turned into a different dog and just fell in love with the sport. We both did. Now I feel very blessed to be able to do this with my best friend, but I also get to coach my students and help them along as well. 

Did Kingsley show early potential? Kingsley has always been a showman! He just loves to be the centre of attention. I think he enjoys competing more than he enjoys training, so my challenge with him is always to keep his training fun so I do not lose his focus and interest in the sport.

How can someone interested in rally learn more? If someone wants to get into rally I would recommend they come to a trial and watch the sport live, and talk to people actively competing. It is a very nice community and I find people are always very welcoming to newcomers. I will often invite my clients who are interested in the sport to come and watch my classes and see what they think. I always say if you are looking for something fun to do with your dog, rally is a great sport. It is the perfect mix of discipline, precision obedience and fun.

What keeps you motivated? What keeps me motivated is actively competing, so currently it’s hard in the middle of a pandemic. I find when I am actively trialling I have more fun training, as it gives me more motivation and creativity in my training routine. I definitely feel the same for my dog. He thrives on the competition, so we both look forward to being able to get back at it!

What is Kingsley up to these days? These days Kingsley is my right-hand man. He assists me in all my rally classes, and trains regularly to keep up with where he needs to be. Kingsley definitely likes to be busy. On the side, he is also an actor! He has worked in television and his latest gig was in the role of Spot the dog in “Shakespeare in Love”. Currently he is training lots and working towards his Rally Master Excellent and Rally Champion titles. He is almost there!

#8 – Blueshadow's The Butler Did It CGN JT RAE2

Call Name: Butler
Shetland Sheepdog
Owner/Handler: Dayna Nichol
Breeder: William Seifried

What initially drew you to the sport of rally? It was something fun to do with my dogs! I haven't competed in any canine sport since the '80s with my first pup and wanted to get back into it!  Butler is a great little working dog and I wanted to see what he could do!

How and when did you get started?  A good friend of mine recommended a rally instructor and we just rolled with it!

Did Butler show early potential?  Butler lives to please and catches onto things fast!  

How can someone interested in rally learn more? Check out your local dog training clubs or the CKC; there is tons of information out there!  

What keeps you motivated? Our dogs need to be active and engaged, and what better thing to do than dog sports!

What is Butler up to these days? Butler is working towards some more agility titles and his Master level in rally. Also we want to do some obedience work, try out sprinter and herding, as well as being a dog and hanging out with his two brothers!

#9 – GCh. RCh. Lillemor's Cantor AS CGN CAX RMX RAE CD

Call Name: Cohen
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Breeder/Owner/Handler: Karin Lord
What initially drew you to the sport of rally? I took up the sport of rally when it was first introduced in Canada. It looked like a fun addition to regular obedience. I like rally because it allows me to talk to my dog in the ring, allowing the dog to build confidence while trialling, as they built skills. I found my rally work transferred over to our obedience trials as well.
How and when did you get started? I had several dogs in rally prior to Cohen. In particular, Cohen’s sire Abbott was either first- or second-ranked in rally for Pembroke Welsh Corgis from 2015 through 2019.  
Did Cohen show early potential? Cohen started trialling in rally in 2018 and took the#3 spot for his breed, and in 2019, surpassed his sire to go #1 in his breed. I remember the early days of rally, with entries of 50+ in each class. While the number of entries in rally has dropped and stabilized over the years, the quality of the courses, skill requirements, and judging tightness has gone up.  
What keeps you motivated?  I stayed motivated in rally by helping to instruct rally classes, by enjoying the progress Cohen showed each year in his rally skills, and by competing in the definitely more complicated Brace classes. I would love to see CKC make rally Brace at all levels an officially titled sport. It is definitely a crowd-pleaser, and allows (semi) retired rally dogs to return to the ring for new challenges.  
What is Cohen up to these days? Because of Covid I am not currently training or trialling in rally. Instead, Cohen moved outdoors to take up sheep herding. We are looking forward to attending some herding trials in 2021 and then moving back to the rally ring in 2022.

#10 – GChX Vizslavilla Prize Pure Goddess  NS CA CAX RMX RATN CD RAE3

Call Name: Hera
Vizsla (Smooth)
Owner: Oksana & Igor Moshynska
Handler: Oksana Moshynska
Breeder: Irene Balla
What initially drew you to the sport of rally? I first tried this sport with my older dog about seven years ago. There were no RMX or RCH titles back then so he retired after getting his RE title. Hera was to be my show girl, so she was in the show ring at seven months of age. Her show career got a boost; her first day in the ring she won Best Puppy in Show. We started travelling across Western Canada. During breaks, I watched other dogs competing in rally. For our next show, I decided to enter her in both conformation and rally. During her very first rally trial weekend, Hera was awarded High in Class in all runs and also earned her RN title. We were hooked.
How and when did you get started? We started early, at eight weeks. Our training looked more like playing games and tricks rather than a formal rally training. We took a number of puppy classes, some were more obedience oriented than others. (We later continued attending obedience classes.) I also created space in my basement and printed rally signs; this is where we go to play some rally.
Did Hera show early potential? Yes, she has always enjoyed practising. Our practices looked more like games though. They were short and tasty. Hera loves her treats!
How can someone interested in rally learn more? When I got my first puppy I did not know where to start. I searched the phone book and thought there were no dog training facilities in my city. My advice would be to attend and watch dog trials and talk to handlers and breeders. They will know ins and outs about dogs and dog sports. CKC’s rule book is a must-read. The newly released January 2021 The Obedience Trial & Rally Obedience Trial Rules & Regulations describes in detail what is expected of a dog and handler.
What keeps you motivated? I enjoy setting goals and achieving them. Many times in my life I was told I would never be able to achieve this or that, but I tried anyway. It is amazing how much one could achieve with a bit of dedication and self-discipline.
What is Hera up to these days? Before COVID-19 slowed us down, we played a number of sports including sprinter, obedience, barn hunt, conformation, and agility. We were working on Hera’s Rally Champion title. I decided to use the pandemic to my advantage, went back to school, and am expecting to soon graduate with my Masters degree. Hera spent this entire time beside me, helping me to study. We are planning on being back in the rally ring this year!