2019 Top Obedience Dogs
Meet Canada’s Top Obedience Dogs
For the third year in a row, the remarkable team of Scooter and Lee have claimed the Top Dog spot!
At nine and a half years old during the 2019 competition year, GMOTCh. Belcourt Cool Dude, aka Scooter, and his owner/handler Lee Kozicki continued to wow the dog world.
It’s no secret that behind every great dog is a great handler. In addition to Scooter, Lee has piloted three other Miniature Poodles to Grand Master Obedience Trial Champion titles, and placed in the Top 10 multiple times with Scooter’s buddy EZ.
We caught up with the human element of all the Top 10 Obedience Dog teams of 2019 to learn more about their incredible dogs and this fantastic sport. Here are their interviews.
#1 – GMOTCh. Belcourt Cool Dude
Owner/Handler: Lee Kozicki
#1 Obedience Dog in Canada: 2017, 2018, and 2019!
What drew you to the sport of 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.
Why did you choose this breed?
I started with a German Shepherd and moved to Poodles when my son started showing signs of allergies. I had Standard Poodles, all Canadian champions and four OTCHs, and a Yorkshire Terrier who was also a champion and an OTCH.
Did Scooter show early potential to be an obedience star?
Scooter was slow to mature and even now judges ask how old he is. I was not in a hurry to show him, but at almost four, I thought he was ready.
Any advice to newcomers to competitive obedience?
I think way too many people rush into showing and become disappointed when a dog does not do well. Far better to enjoy the journey of training your partner and be well prepared before entering. It is much easier to trial a well-trained dog than a maybe.
What keeps you motivated?
I love what I do and enjoy working my dogs and the bond we have. My dogs are all very happy workers who enjoy working with me. I don’t care how long that takes to get that.
What is next for Scooter?
It is impossible to believe Scooter is 11 years old this month and because of Covid he may just coast into retirement.
#2 – GMOTCh. Tanbark's High Rolling Player RA
|Call name: Edge
Owner/Handler: Rose Apollonio
Breeder: Yvonne M. Piefer
What drew you to the sport of obedience? I competed in horse events when I was younger. One day I observed an obedience demonstration that was very interesting to watch, and decided that was something I wanted to try.
Why did you choose this breed? I have competed with Rottweilers and Weimaraners. Goldens are very different to work with than my previous competition partners, and have given me the opportunity to grow as a handler.
Did Edge show early potential to be an obedience star? Edge comes from a long line of obedience and field superstars, who have won at Crufts, the NOI and every major AKC obedience tournament. I saw a special spark in him as a young puppy. He loves to work. That is when he is happiest.
Any advice to newcomers to competitive obedience? Have fun! There will be bumps in the road to achieving your goals, but that is part of the learning experience.
What keeps you motivated? I love the bond that is created with my dog.
What is next for Edge? Edge will work for as long as he wants to. This is what makes him happy.
#3 – MOTCh. Ravengold Becket Of Tashora CGN RE WC
|Call Name: Becket
Owner/Handler: Jo-Anne Heinze
Breeders: Louise Battley & Judi Dunlop
What drew you to the sport of obedience? Encouragement from Golden Retriever owners and friends Pat and Carol Beaulieu to join them in their puppy obedience classes with Keltie R. Lang.
Why did you choose this breed? I have always loved Golden Retrievers.
Did Becket show early potential to be an obedience star? Yes, he was and continues to be, a learning sponge. He masters new skills very quickly. He is VERY eager to please, doesn't like making mistakes and excels with encouragement and positive feedback.
Any advice to newcomers to competitive obedience? Obedience is a fabulous performance sport to bond with your dog. We started as total newbies. Go to obedience trails and watch handlers and dogs competing. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Get a Canadian Kennel Club obedience rule book. Hook yourself up with an obedience trainer that competes in obedience or has competed and titled dogs through to the highest (GMOTCH) obedience level. Join a local obedience training group or create one with your classmates. Be willing to put lots of effort into practising outside of obedience classes.
What keeps you motivated? Having a goal to work towards, our GMOTCH Figuring out how to evaluate and solve obedience issues that come up along the way and seeing improvement. No handler or dog is perfect. There is always something to work on or improve.
What is next for Becket? Completing our GMOTCH, Junior Hunter, and Rally Master, and continuing with our Vaudeville trick training and care-home shows when COVID restrictions allow.
#4 – GMOTCh. Audeo's Road To Razzmatazz
|Call name: Razz or Razzle
Owner/Handler: Louise Bastien
Breeders: Pamela Martin & Pat Swallows
What drew you to the sport of obedience? I have been enjoying the sport of obedience since 1995 with my first Golden Retriever. His desire to learn and work with me drew me to the sport of obedience. I love teaching my dogs. I love the connection, the relationship and the complicity that obedience gives us.
Why did you choose this breed? I love the temperament of the Golden Retriever. The gentle soul combine with the desire to please made me fall in love with the breed.
Did Razzle show early potential to be an obedience star? Razz was slow to mature but showed early potential. In the summer of 2019 she went from CDX to GMOTCH. The potential was definitely there! She matured quite nicely!
Any advice to newcomers to competitive obedience? For a newcomer, I would suggest having reachable goals. Observe how your dog learns. Enjoy the journey, one day at a time.
What keeps you motivated? What keeps me motivated is my dog’s desire to learn and work. When we work together, she makes me smile, we become one. To feel that kind of relationship and commitment is priceless.
What is next for Razzle? When the borders open up again, we would love to go back to the States and work towards our OTCH.
#5 – GMOTCh. Spirit's Dashing Son Of Zoom
|Call Name: Dash
Owner/Handler: Ward Falkner
Breeder: Laurie Weaver
What drew you to the sport of obedience? A love of all animals, but in particular dogs. This love of animals started at a very young age with goldfish, turtles and my small mixed-breed terrier. It continued through to adulthood, which saw me completing a Ph.D. in Zoology. In addition, the friendships gained and interactions with fellow competitors and judges make the sport very enjoyable.
Why did you choose this breed? I chose this breed because they: 1) are easy with which to live; 2) are biddable with a strong desire to please their person/handler; 3) learn quickly; 4) are very athletic, 5) and are, as is often said, simply lovable, in-your-face Goldens.
Did Dash show early potential to be an obedience star? No, Dash did not show early potential to become an obedience star. He was so high drive and difficult to control that at one time I had doubts he would ever do well in obedience. I even briefly contemplated returning him to his breeder. However, I had never returned a dog to a breeder and decided I wasn’t about to start. I decided he would be my special project and advised the breeder that we were about to find out if I was a capable trainer with a difficult dog. It has taken some time and a lot of patience, but he has matured into a very fast and very accurate competitor with loads of attitude. Most importantly, he has taught me an incredible amount as a trainer – much more than I’ve taught him!
Any advice to newcomers to competitive obedience? My advice to newcomers: Enjoy your dog, trust your dog, learn from your dog and love your dog. Treasure the bond this sport develops between you and your dog. Remember, it’s not about winning or losing in competitions, it’s about having fun on a daily basis during everyday activities and your training sessions.
What keeps you motivated? I am motivated by the sheer fun and enjoyment experienced by myself and my dog every day. Seeing continued improvement in Dash’s performance of individual exercises is gratifying and leads to seeking additional improvement with time.
What is next for Dash? I hope to trial with Dash for another couple of years and to devote more time to training Jet, Dash’s young brother.
(Photo Credit: Jeffrey Jackson)
#6 – GMOTCh. Heads Up Teknical Knockout CGN
|Call Name: Tekno
Owner/Handler: Keltie R. Lang
Breeder: Anne Everett
What drew you to the sport of obedience? I was drawn to the sport of obedience because of the high degree of precision and thought that has to go into the training. It is a perfect activity for an A-type personality. As well, I enjoy doing things with my dogs that enhance our relationship.
Why did you choose this breed? Golden Retrievers are a joy to own, easy to live with, they love to work and have a high desire to please.
Did Tekno show early potential to be an obedience star? Tekno is a field-bred Golden so a workmanlike attitude was bred into him. I picked him out of the litter because he showed the most potential from what I wanted out of an obedience dog.
Any advice to newcomers to competitive obedience? Find a trainer whose work you admire, work with them, and follow their advice. Get a dog that is bred to do the job.
What keeps you motivated? The ability to always do something better and keep improving my skills is what keeps me motivated.
What is next for Tekno? Tekno’s career unfortunately cut short in his prime because of the pandemic. It a crap shoot as to when dog shows and trials will be up and running again, but in the meantime I keep his skills honed and he is my faithful sidekick when I’m teaching obedience classes.
(Photo credit: Anne Raszewski)
#7 – Ch. MOTCh. Topiary Last Spike
|Call Name: Spike
Owner/Handler: Lee Kozicki
Breeder: Peggy Clarke
How did Spike come into your life? Spike belonged to a friend who took puppy classes with me and then went into show dog stuff. I would occasionally ask what Spike was doing and one day his breeder asked if I would like to take him home and work him. Long story short his breeder gave him to me and in three short years, he is now one judge away from his GMOTCH with both HITs of 200.
How do you start obedience training a puppy? Puppy training is surely the most fun of all. We are starting all kind of things like go-outs, signals, tiny jumps and recalls. Most importantly, we are teaching puppies that learning is fun, lots of toys cookies and motivation to strengthen the bond with owner and puppy. After being gone from class for over a year, I was surprised how much Spike remembered from his early class.
How is Spike motivated? Spike loves toys ball and food and praise. There is nothing better than looking down at him heeling happily beside me. These two dogs are totally opposites. Scooter is totally devoted to me and Spike is everyone's friend. They are both superstars to me.
Do you or Spike have any good luck charms or pre-trial rituals? I am not superstitious but each dog needs to warm up differently. Scooter requires almost none while Spike needs a bit more. He would like to take over in the ring, anticipate retrieves, or jumps. I hope as the world gets back to normal I can finish Spike’s GMOTCH, my fifth Miniature Poodle to do so, and add his Am. OTCH, and who knows what else. I stay motivated by watching my dogs and my students’ dogs achieving amazing happy working dogs.
#8 – Tanbark's Cutting Edge CDX RN
|Call name: Blitz
Owner/Handler: Rose Apollonio
Breeder: Yvonne M. Piefer
How did you get started in obedience? I competed in horse events when I was younger. One day I observed an obedience demonstration that was very interesting to watch, and decided that was something I wanted to try.
How do you start Obedience training a puppy? I start by building a bond with positive interaction and games.
How is Blitz motivated? Blitz is motivated by life. He loves to please. He loves to work and try new things. He’s the type of dog that comes to me because he constantly wants to “play”. He considers obedience to be play.
Do you, or your dog, have any good-luck charms or pre-trial rituals? Yes. Before we go in the ring, Blitz lays down for a belly rub.
#9 – MOTCh. Smok'ngold's Skyrocket N'Flyte XPS JTS RAE JH WCI AgXS AgXJS
|Call Name: Flyte
Owner/Handler: Marsha Hall
Breeders: Les & Jasmine Deblois
What drew you to the sport of obedience? A Golden Retriever named Zoom owned by Ward Falkner inspired me to take this journey in obedience. Ward became my mentor.
Why did you choose this breed? I like the trainability and intelligence of the Golden.
Did Flyte show early potential to be an obedience star? Right from the moment I saw her, I knew she was going to be my obedience dog.
Any advice to newcomers to competitive obedience? Yes, find a mentor that you like and follow their instruction.
What keeps you motivated? My motivation is simply I love the sport and so does Flyte.
What is next for Flyte? Flyte is currently doing scent detection, agility, hunt tests, and scent hurdle racing. She is a very busy girl.
#10 – GMOTCh. RCh. Diaz Chien Policier
|Call Name: Diaz
Owner/Handler: Sharon Otto
Breeder: Birgit Hall
What drew you to the sport of obedience? Always competed with horses, then gas was too expensive, so I went into dog competitions.
Why did you choose this breed? I wanted to try this breed. I had always had German Shepherds.
Did Diaz show early potential to be an obedience star? No, Diaz was very stubborn so I never thought she'd get into it, but she did.
Any advice to newcomers to competitive obedience? It take lots of work and patience. Enjoy the journey.
What keeps you motivated? Competition.
What is next for Diaz? She's now retired... starting a new pup who is a German Shepherd.