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2021 Top Obedience Dogs

Full Results PDF

Teaching a dog good manners is essential. Attending a basic Obedience class not only allows your dog to learn cues but also is a bonding experience. While all dogs can benefit from Obedience, some are incredible at it. Their ability to listen, learn and perform on the spot is outstanding. These are some very intellectually gifted dogs.

2021’s Top Obedience Stars cover 6/7 Canadian Kennel Club breed groups. From a Whippet to a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, an English Springer Spaniel and three Golden Retrievers to a couple of Miniature Poodles as well as a Border Collie. 2021’s Top Dog is a Rottweiler named Leto, who showed star potential right away and wows with his incredible intelligence and big heart. Meet Canada’s Top Obedience Dogs for 2021.

#1 – Ch. GMOTCh. Tierney's Bet'n I'm The One RE CA CGN

Call Name: Leto
Breeder: Gwen Haynes
Owners: Gwen Haynes & Shannon O’Briant
Handlers: Gwen Haynes for all things obedience & Shannon O’Briant for all things Schutzhund related
Favourite Treat: Steak and cream cheese
Favourite Toy:  Any tug toy
Best Friend: I would like to think it is me, but it is probably his housemate L J

Interview with Gwen Haynes

How did you get involved in competitive Obedience? I got involved in the sport about 20 years ago when I watched an Obedience trial in Red Deer, Alberta and was in awe of the amazing teams in the ring.  I thought to myself – I want to be doing that one day with my dog.
How did Leto come into your life? I am the very proud breeder of Leto.  I own his mother, Lana, who is a MOTCH dog and his sister, Lieben, who is also a MOTCH dog.

What makes Rottweilers great dogs to compete in Obedience with? Rottweilers are tremendous working dogs.  Very smart and quick learners.  You cannot make training boring for them.  You must keep it interesting and understand that you can’t drill them like soldiers.  They will bore very quickly if you train like that.

Did Leto show early potential to be an Obedience star? Leto straight out of the gates had that “IT” factor.  He had lots of drive, biddability and loved both food and toys equally.  I knew there was something special in him.  He did not disappoint.  He has been my best Obedience dog and I have had a few over the years, but there is something very special about him.  He is consistent and tries very hard always giving me effort.
Does Leto know any unusual commands or tricks?  When I do his nails, I say, “show me your nails” and he lays over on his side and places his paw in my hands.
Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring? I always use the same collar and leash for Leto.  I don’t really have a set ritual.   I make sure Leto is in the right frame of mind prior to getting in the ring. I need him in drive but focused on the task at hand.
Did you face any challenges competing in 2021? No more than anyone else I think – always hoping that the trials you had planned to attend did not get cancelled due to new COVID restrictions.
What is next for Leto?  Leto will be working on draft work, tracking and Schutzhund.  I will continue to compete in Obedience this year as he loves it so much. 

(Photo credit: Little Brown Horse Photography)

#2 – MOTCh. Tanbark's Cutting Edge RN​ 

Call Name: Blitz
Golden Retriever
Owner/Handler: Rose Apollonio
Breeder: Yvonne M. Piefer
Favourite Treat: Bacon/Liver Cookies and Bananas
Favourite Toy: Me
Best Friend: Edge (Golden Retriever)

Interview with Rose Apollonio

How did you get involved in competitive Obedience? Thirty years ago, I went to a conformation show that had an obedience demonstration, and that got me interested.

How did Blitz come into your life? Blitz was bred specifically for me by Yvonne Piefer of Tanbark Goldens. He is my second competition Golden from her kennel.

What makes Golden Retrievers great dogs to compete with in Obedience? Goldens are very biddable and willing to please. They are naturals for many of the exercises required in obedience.

Did Blitz show early potential to be an Obedience star? Blitz was a very friendly, confident, and athletic puppy. As he was shown new skills, he caught on very quickly and was eager to perform.

Does Blitz know any unusual commands or tricks? Blitz has learned, on his own, to gather up all his toys and chewies when he’s finished with them, and bring them to me to put away, without me asking him to do that.

Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring? No. We just go in and have fun.

Did you face any challenges competing in 2021? The pandemic was a major challenge. Not being able to crate in a venue due to pandemic protocols provided many difficulties for both the dog and the handler.

What is next for Blitz? We’re still working on that.

#3 – GMOTCh. Ravengold Becket Of Tashora RE CGN WC

Call Name: Becket
Golden Retriever
Owner/Handler: Jo-Anne Heinze
Breeders: Louise Battley & Judi Dunlop
Favourite Treat: Chicken
Favourite Toy:  Ball
Best Friend: Chilly, Lyric & Sprite

Interview with Jo-Anne Heinze
How did you get involved in competitive Obedience? Encouragement from golden retriever friends Pat and Carol Beaulieu and my Obedience trainer and coach, Keltie R. Lang.

How did Becket come into your life? After determining that Obedience wasn't something our Golden boy Radar was interested in, I received a phone call from our breeder Louise Battley. Louise suggested we might want to consider getting another Golden Retriever.  Having two Golden Retrievers hadn't crossed our minds, but she had a singleton puppy (Becket) whose dam and sire had good performance attributes.  Adding Becket to our home was a great decision.  Becket quickly became buddies with Radar and grew to be a stellar working dog for me.

What makes Golden Retrievers great dogs to compete in Obedience with? Golden Retrievers are very biddable companions.  They love to retrieve, are eager learners, and capable and intelligent working dogs.

Did Becket show early potential to be an obedience star? Yes, as a puppy Becket was a learning sponge. By six months of age, he was doing scent articles and go-outs. He masters new skills very quickly. He is VERY eager to please, doesn't like making mistakes, and excels with encouragement and positive feedback.

Does Becket know any unusual commands or tricks? Most recently we have started hiding his inside large Chuckit ball in the house.  Every evening he wants to play "find it".  We put him in a down-stay while we hide the ball in very difficult locations.  We release him and wait as he combs the house for his ball.  He is so excited when he finds it and brings it back to us.  We have a praise party when he brings it back.  Then he lays down with his ball and pushes it on his own to one of us to play the game again.

Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring? I don't have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring.  I usually arrive well before the competition and do a few engaging warm-ups on heeling, signals, sit-stay, and moving stand.

Did you face any challenges competing in 2021? The only challenge was wearing a mask while trialling and remembering to speak loudly so Becket could hear me on his go-outs and drop on recall.

What is next for Becket? Now that Becket has earned his GMOTCh and is eight years old he is semi-retired in competitive Obedience.  I may continue on in Rally for his Masters and Hunt for his Junior title.  He will also be available for our Vaudeville team trick shows in elder care homes when COVID restrictions allow.  Hopefully, in the near future, we will be able to add another Golden to our family, a buddy for Becket and a conformation and working prospect for me.

#4 – GMH NMH GMOTCh. Ch. Zaniri Letter By Letter CGN DD TD UTD RN WCX 

Call Name: Scrabble
Golden Retriever
Leanne Tucker
Breeders: Joanne & Laureen Kinney & Mary Shillabeer
Favourite Treat: Anything with meat
Favourite Toy: Chuck it balls & bumpers
Best Friend: He loves his newest Golden “brother” Rip. They have a great time wrestling!

Interview with Leanne Tucker
How did you get involved in competitive Obedience? I was 14 when I attended my first dog show and happened to stumble upon the Obedience side of the show. I watched my current trainer, Jackie Hastie, in the ring with her Golden at the time and wanted to do that with mine. The rest is history.

How did Scrabble come into your life? My good friend Mary Shillabeer bred her very accomplished bitch Keener to my (also very accomplished) boy Puzzle. The result of that breeding was 11 fabulous puppies. I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to take one from the litter.

What makes Golden Retrievers great dogs to compete in Obedience with? Golden Retrievers are great dogs to compete in obedience with due to their biddable nature and desire to please. Zaniri Golden Retrievers likes to combine field lines with show lines that prove their ability in the field and I find this is a perfect balance to maintain their natural desire to retrieve and stay true to breed standard.

Did Scrabble show early potential to be an obedience star? Scrabble has always loved to do anything I throw at him. He loves to work and from the time he was a very young dog I knew he had all of the traits and desire to be a star as long as I did my part.

Does Scrabble know any unusual commands or tricks? I haven’t taught him any unusual commands or tricks, but he holds a Master’s degree in finding any weird and wonderful item (shoes, gloves, books, wigs, golf balls….) tucked in the bush on our daily off-leash runs!

Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring? We usually warm up with a bit of heeling and signals before going into the ring, so no real superstitions. If I can burn off some of his energy by sending him to a pile of bumpers on a walk the morning before a trial, or at lunch I am quite happy!

Did you face any challenges competing in 2021? We didn’t really have any challenges competing in 2021 other than sharing our time with other sports. We took up Tracking and Draft dog work for something different and fun to do. He just goes with the flow and didn’t care about masks in the ring at indoor trials.

What is next for Scrabble? I’d like to finish his American UD if I can get down to the US this year. Otherwise, I really enjoyed tracking and draft work so perhaps we’ll work towards a Tracking Championship and DD

(Photo credit: Little Brown Horse Photography)

#5 – MOTCh. Ch. Hot Shot Breaking All The Rules RE

Call Name: Targa
Border Collie
Owner/Handler: Dave Haddon
Breeders: Heidi & Chyle Schramm
Favourite Treat: Cheese
Favourite Toy:  Ball
Best Friend: Dave Haddon

Interview with Dave Haddon
How did you get involved in competitive Obedience? I wanted something to do besides being a Police Officer.

How did Targa come into your life? By luck meeting the breeder at the American National Specialty.

What makes Border Collies great dogs to compete in Obedience with? The bond between dog and handler.

Did Targa show early potential to be an obedience star? Yes right from the beginning his eye contact was awesome

Does Targa know any unusual commands or tricks? Too many to list.

Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring? Peanut butter sandwich.

Did you face any challenges competing in 2021? Travel.

What is next for Targa?  Retirement.


 #6 – MOTCh. GCh. Daydream Kissing Sixth Gear JTXS AGIJS NPS AGIS

Call Name: Hayden
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Breeder: Dayna Lemke
Owners: Mandy McKay & Dayna Lemke
Handler: Mandy McKay
Favourite Treat: Dried liver treats from Costco and Bananas
Favourite Toy: Bumper! He was raised by Goldens  
Best Friend: Me, his Mama River and Jill Brown
Interview with Mandy McKay
How did you get involved in competitive Obedience? I grew up showing horses very competitively, but as a young adult in the city horses were a financial burden I just couldn’t bear. I missed competing with animals but didn’t know how much until I took my first puppy, a Rottweiler, to puppy class.  I was referred to a fabulous training school run by a woman who I now, 15 years later, call a good friend. I took a puppy class from her that evolved to basic pet manners and beyond, and my dog and I loved it. I was invited to a trial to watch my coach compete and was hooked from the first round I watched! That coach encouraged me to enter Rally at the Rottweiler Nationals that year for my first trial and the rest is history! Thor was my Novice A-dog, and he took me all the way to Utility. 
How did Hayden come into your life? I wanted a second dog to go with my Rottweiler and I wanted a smaller breed, but one that could be as versatile as my Rottweiler. I researched breeders for over a year looking for someone breeding a line with proven workability and front and back end titles. I finally found one with roots in California, and am so grateful that she welcomed me into the family and sent me such a fantastic dog.
What makes Staffordshire Bull Terriers great dogs to compete in Obedience with? Their biddability is through the roof! They are also much smarter than people give them credit for, almost desperate to be right, and so in tune with their people. I swear Hayden knows what I’m thinking before I do most times! This can be good and bad, I promise! 
Did Hayden show early potential to be an obedience star? Yes and no. His work was beautiful from the beginning, but we both struggled a lot with ring nerves. His desperation to be right means he doesn’t handle it well when he gets it wrong. We worked with phenomenal coaches and training partners to build our relationship and mutual trust. We could then take the skills we had learned and both have the confidence to step into the ring knowing we could do it, as a team. 
Does Hayden know any unusual commands or tricks? He closes the door behind himself when he comes in from outside which is so handy! Oh, and he herds the cat back into the house when he tries to escape!
Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring? Nope, just faith in my incredible little dog! Oh, and a good cup of coffee on trial mornings!
Did you face any challenges competing in 2021? Just waiting for trials to happen! We have a fabulous group of local clubs in Alberta who worked very hard to put on events for us despite the challenges they were faced with. Seriously, the next show or trial you’re at, thank an organizer. They work so hard!
What is next for Hayden? Well, we were the third Stafford ever to achieve our MOTCH. There’s only one Obedience title left, and we’re working on it! Hayden will also be training and competing in Agility and Draft work in Canada as well as continuing his obedience career in AKC, now that the border is open again. 

(Photo credit: Jump Start Imagery)

#7 – GMOTCh. Ch. Topiary Last Spike

Call Name: Spike
Miniature Poodle
Owner/Handler: Lee Kozicki
Breeder: Peggy Clarke   
Favourite Treat: Homemade liver treats
Favourite Toy: He is ball crazy, but loves to pluck a stuffed toy all over the floor
Best Friend: He is a social butterfly when it comes to people, he likes everyone. He shares the house with my other Miniature Poodle Scooter.

Interview with Lee Kozicki

 How did you get involved in competitive Obedience? I was a twin and we both wanted dogs, so our parents agreed but we had to take the new puppies to obedience classes. This started a journey that would last well over 50 years.

How did Spike come into your life? Spike came into our home in 2016 just for training. He finished all his titles in three years. Needless to say, he didn’t go home. His breeder was so pleased with how well he was doing and gave him to me.

What makes Miniature Poodles great dogs to compete in Obedience with?   Poodles are very smart and learn quickly. They may be more difficult to trial because they are smart enough to know trials are different from training, so I never rush to put them in the ring. After 50-some years of trialling, I want my dog well prepared before I enter.

Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring? No superstitions. I just warm him up and in we go.

Did you face any challenges competing in 2021? It’s been very tough with Covid. Let’s hope we are leaving it behind. 

What is next for Spike? Currently competing and at the top of his game! 

 #8 – OTCh. Ch. Domino Neon Carrot ACX FCh. NS RN

Call Name: Cee
Owner/Handler: Kate Darbyshire
Breeder: Donna Miner
Favourite Treat: Anything off a human's plate
Favourite Toy: plastic "champagne" bottle 
Best Friend: 
Human-me; canine-kennel mate Venti

Interview with Kate Darbyshire

How did you get involved in competitive Obedience? I bought my first registered purebred dog in 1989, a Bullmastiff, and thought I should take such a big dog to training classes. The instructor kept talking about trials, so I tried it out and loved it. After 3 Bullmastiffs, I wanted to downsize, and went to Whippets: haven't looked back (well, looked sideways when I got a Doberman, but otherwise it's been all Whippets for me since).
How did Cee come into your life? I had his uncle, who has also been a wonderful dog and was interested in the breeding that produced Cee's litter.

What makes Whippets great dogs to compete in Obedience with? The boys are pretty serious workers, and very willing to cooperate for food or toy-chasing rewards. Once they learn the exercises, they tend to be pretty consistent. They are quite laid back, when not on the coursing field (then Mr. Hyde comes out!).

Did Cee show early potential to be an obedience star? Not really - I called him my "Cute, but dumb" boy. Guess he wanted to prove me wrong! 
Does Cee know any unusual commands or tricks? Not a command, but he does pick up beer cans when he finds them on road walks and carries them home. Between that and his favourite toy (see above), I wonder if he needs an intervention...
Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring? Just a short warmup, reinforcement of weak areas. 

Did you face any challenges competing in 2021? The biggest challenge was getting into trials; there were almost none in my area (eastern Ontario), and the ones further away, that I could get to, filled within minutes (maybe seconds). Luckily, he finished his UD in 4 trials - 2 days.

What is next for Cee? For 2022, we hope to finish his MOTCH; and to do a good job at the American Whippet Club National's Triathlon (Lure coursing, Obedience, Conformation). 
(Photo credit: W.Reitboeck)

#9 – OTChX Ch. Adelheid's Coffeebean RM SDE AGX JTX AGI AGXJ RAE CGN TDCh.

Call Name: Mocha
Miniature Poodle
Owner/Handler: Chantal Rioux
Breeder: Renate Newcomb
Favourite Treat: Homemade liver muffins
Favourite Toy: Ball
Best Friend: My friend Karen

Interview with Chantal Rioux
How did you get involved in competitive Obedience? When I got my first pet dog in 2001, I was referred to the Swansea Dog Obedience Club, who solicited my help to work at their annual Obedience trials.  I was privileged to observe fantastic Teams and Club Members competing at the trials.  I thought that is something I could try myself.  I adopted my second Dog in 2003 and started taking formal Obedience classes, entering my first CKC Obedience trial in May 2006.  It did not take long and I was hooked on Obedience.  I train and trial in multiple disciplines but Obedience is still my favourite.
How did Mocha come into your life? I was looking for a Dog that would have the potential to go beyond where I was with my Schapendoes and Coton de Tulear.  I had lots of challenges with them, therefore I opted for a different breed, the Miniature Poodle.  I did a lot of research to find a breeder and the best potential puppy.  I got the pick of the litter, based on my aspirations, goals and foundation.  From the first day I met him, Mocha has always amazed me.  We have already surpassed the goals I had set and we have raised the bar to a higher level of accomplishments.  He is definitely very special to me because he has been a dream to train and it is a pleasure to be his partner in the ring.

What makes Miniature Poodles great dogs to compete in Obedience with? They are smart, very versatile, assertive, and eager to please.  

Did Mocha show early potential to be an obedience star? Mocha is my Obedience star!  At a young age, it was obvious that he had potential, he was a natural.  As a puppy, he loved to chase leaves and carry them in the yard, always busy with a purpose.  He continues to amaze me, he loves to work, has lots of stamina and is eager to please.  I couldn’t ask for more, we enjoy doing things together, especially Obedience.
Does Mocha know any unusual commands or tricks? When Mocha was a few months old, my mother (who loves dogs but is not involved with dog training) taught him “where is it?” She held his favourite ball in her hands while looking for a hiding spot in the house.  Then asked “where is it?” he would frantically start searching for it. She taught him scent without him realizing it.  To this day, he still plays this game and loves to look for his hidden toys when I say “where is it?”
Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring? We do not have any rituals, less is better for Mocha, we connect and heel formally into the ring.

Did you face any challenges competing in 2021? Yes, for Mocha and me, it has been challenging to compete so frequently during the past year.  We entered every trial possible to remain in the TOP 10 for the second year in a row and to accumulate MOTCH points.  It is not easy for the dog to maintain sharpness and accuracy in execution, in all exercises all the time.  At some point, one exercise or another would fall apart, and you need to fix it quickly before the next trial.  This was the first time I experienced this.  I’m so glad I worked through it, but it was very challenging.

What is next for Mocha? In 2022, we are working towards our MOTCH and AKC Utility title. 

#10 – OTCh. GChB Ramblewood All The Right Moves RA

Call Name: Truman
English Springer Spaniel
Owner/Handler: Amber Levy
Breeders: Linda Riedel & Pamela Holt
Favourite Treat: Steak & cheese
Favourite Toy: Pink Piggy
Best Friend: Housemate Vista

Interview with Amber Levy
How did you get involved in competitive Obedience? About 30 years ago I got my first Springer and took him to local obedience classes. I have always loved training and once I got back into Springers as an adult, I started my dogs in local training classes which progressed to competing in Rally-O and then into competitive Obedience.

How did Truman come into your life? Truman came into my life when he was supposed to. The timing was right and I took the chance on purchasing a puppy from the USA from someone I had never met before. It's a decision I have never regretted.

What makes English Springer Spaniels great dogs to compete in Obedience with? I love everything about English Springer Spaniels. I love their size, their look and their personality. They are quite biddable, athletic and like to work. They tend to be very food motivated and are fairly easy to train.

Did Truman show early potential to be an obedience star? I would like to say that in my mind Truman has always been a superstar. I think by the time he was a year old I strongly suspected he had a lot of potential. In his day-to-day life, he is a very silly and fun dog to live with, but when he is training and working, he is super serious. This boy does not like to make mistakes and when I realized how intent he was on being correct, I would say that was when I truly started to see his potential to become a really competitive dog.

Does Truman know any unusual commands or tricks? I don't think he knows any unusual tricks, although sometimes he makes things up in the ring to keep me humble.

Do you have any superstitions or rituals before going into the ring? I don't have any superstitions or rituals before our ring time. I don't spend a lot of time on warmups before going into the ring. Truman tends to have very good focus and attention so doesn't need to necessarily be in the venue for a long period of time to adjust to his surroundings. I mostly do a little bit of heeling warmup just before we go in and call it a day. I'm (usually) confident that we have put in the work ahead of time and will just see what happens when we get in there.

Did you face any challenges competing in 2021? Our biggest challenge was that we started the year not even having our first CDX leg under our belt. He was ready for the open class in 2020 but had no trials to get to. Maybe that extra year to spend training really let me solidify things for open and be better prepared for utility in 2021.

What is next for Truman? This year I have a few goals in mind for Truman. I hope to finish our OTChX and MOTCh titles and play in the rally ring a bit with him. Long term I'm hoping that he will be my first GMOTCh dog. Time will tell on that one. 



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