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2023 Top Obedience Dogs

Full Results PDF

Obedience trials were designed to test the dog’s suitability as a good companion. Basic tests include heeling (on and off lead), Sit, Stand, Stay and coming when called. At more advanced levels, dogs are asked to jump, retrieve, respond to signals, and identify and retrieve articles carrying their handler’s scent.

Behind every great dog is a very skilled handler. 2023 marks the sixth time owner/handler Rose Apollonio has been part of Canada’s #1 Obedience Dog duo. This year Rose’s dog, Blitz, an amazingly trained Golden Retriever, once again took top spot. Congratulations to Blitz and all of Canada’s Top Obedience Dogs.

 Please note that there is a tie for 5th, so the next ranking is #7.

#1 – GMOTCH Tanbark's Cutting Edge RN

Call Name: Blitz 
Golden Retriever
Date of birth:
September 17, 2016
Breeder: Yvonne M. Pieffer
Owner: Rose Apollonio
Handler: Rose Apollonio

Rose Apollonio:

This is my 6th time as the #1 Obedience Team in Canada, and the thrill of this finish is very special. It represents a year filled with hard work, much travel, many ups and downs, and the relationship of trust and understanding that has developed between myself and Blitz. Blitz is my second Golden Retriever from Tanbark. He has a very outgoing personality, loves to work, play, and do anything that involves being with me. He’s a great companion and I am lucky to have him. I would also like to congratulate all the other Top 10 Teams on their 2023 placements and achievements.

#2 – GMOTCH Riveron's Spartacus RA WC MH CGN

Call Name: Sparks
Labrador Retriever
Date Of Birth: November 14, 2017
Breeder: Danny Lemay
Owners: Heather Watt & Kevin Ross
Handler: Heather Watt

Heather Watt:

COVID delayed the start of Sparks’ time in the ring. He entered for the first time in Pre-Novice at 4.5 years of age in May 2022. Since then, we have run through all the titles with only a little break needed before his first Utility run. Sparks is a very sensitive dog who reflects my stress. I had to learn a completely different way to train him (more fun and rewards) than I had used with my first dog who was in the top ten Obedience and Rally rankings for several years in the mid-2010s. Although this transition/transformation took a bit of time, it allowed me to gain a deeper respect for people who train and compete with sensitive dogs and “forced” me to actually have fun in the ring. I still have to be careful to not want a pass/specific score too hard, but he tells me when I put too much pressure on him. His sensitivity to my mood has caused us a few issues in another discipline (hunt tests), but we will see if we can work on it this coming season. We have also started competing in Rally. This is proving to be another challenge because he really enjoys the interactivity and 100% focus that I give him in the Obedience ring. I may just have to memorize the course/my route so that I can give him what he needs in the rally ring – time will tell.

#3 – GMOTCH CH Topiary Last Spike

Call name: Spike
Miniature poodle
Date of Birth: May 14, 2019
Breeder: Peggy Clark
Owner: Lee Kozicki
Handler:  Lee Kozicki

Lee Kozicki:

Spike is an amazing little dog who has accomplished being in the top three all-breed, two years in a row. He now has 20 perfect scores and still enjoys the ring. His favourite thing is he loves to go to the park and chase his ball. Thank you to his breeder Peggy Clark for giving me this boy after he finished his show career in Conformation. He had been in my puppy class at 12 weeks but had not done any Obedience after the classes and since I wanted a dog to train she said “take Spike”. It didn’t take long for me to know I would be keeping him. He would become my fifth GMOTCH mini. I always have fun at trials and try to impress that on my students. After all this is a hobby we should have fun, both us and the dog. I strive for happy accurate dogs and if they fail a trial the sun comes up tomorrow. 


#4 – GMOTCH Watch Out Of Dark Brightness TD

Call name: Rebel
Belgian Shepherd Dog
Date of Birth: June 3, 2018
Breeder: Angel Gelauf
Owner: Hilary Watson
Handler: Hilary Watson

Hilary Watson:

Let me start by thanking Rebel’s breeder, Angel Gelauf, of Dark Brightness Belgian Shepherds in the Netherlands. Angel consistently produces smart, physically sound, mentally strong, athletic Belgians who love to work. My previous Belgian, Rebel’s uncle, Ch GMOTCH Xolid Bouncer of Dark Brightness TD, IPO1, was top Belgian for CKC obedience in 2016 and 2018.

Next, my thanks for many years of expert coaching from Marie Sawford (Companion Dog Training), and additionally for guidance from Susie Bell, Bonnie Christie, Leslie Marshall and Debby DaCosta. Your help and support have been invaluable. My thanks to all fellow competitors who competed honestly, with good sportsmanship and who were committed to always treating their dogs with respect and kindness. Without that, wins and titles are meaningless. My thanks to the Obedience judges who gave their time and expertise, to all the clubs who hosted Obedience trials, and to the many volunteers who made them run smoothly for dogs and handlers. Thank you for all your hard work.

And finally, my thanks and gratitude to Rebel. What an honour and privilege to have this dog as my partner in competition and in life. From earning CD and CDX in 2021, six legs in six trials with four HITs, to 2023 completing MOTCH and GMOTCH with 16 HITs, and in between earning IGP1 also with HIT, it has been a wonderful journey. I look forward to many happy, healthy shared years ahead.
Congratulations to all competitors. Best wishes for continued success in 2024 and beyond.


#5 – GCH GMOTCH Tierney's Bet'n I'm The One RE CA CGN

Call name:  Leto
Date of birth:  February 17, 2016
Breeder:  Gwen Haynes
Owners:  Gwen Haynes and Shannon O’Briant
Handler:  Gwen Haynes
Gwen Haynes:
Leto has done it again – made the top 10 all-breed for the past 4 years in a row. Leto is my heart and soul dog. He had another incredible year of competing in Obedience and we also managed to hit the Conformation ring to finish off his Grand Championship. Our most memorable moment this year was when he was awarded two 200 scores (Utility and Open) and then ran over to the show ring to win Best Veteran in Show at the Red Deer show in the fall. He truly is a well-rounded example of his breed. We played a little more in the US Obedience ring this year and he went on to earn his Am UD and garner some points towards his US Championship.  Leto is truly a once in a lifetime dog and I am so proud to be his breeder, owner, trainer and handler.  


 #5 – MOTCH Goldunn's Pretty Little Abbie RA

Call name: Abbie
Golden Retriever
Date of Birth: December 2nd, 2017
Breeder: Delvyn R. Lunn
Owner: Delvyn R. Lunn
Handler: Delvyn R. Lunn
Delvyn R. Lunn:

Abbie came into our lives on December 2, 2017. I was away on a judging assignment and my wife and daughter oversaw delivering the puppies. When she was born, she was so red my daughter thought she was an Irish Setter.

We were excited about this litter between my GMOTCH female Dory and a friend of mine’s male GMOTCH Flyer.

Abbie grew up to be a great dog to train and eventually exhibit. She came up through the classes winning multiple High in Trials. The intent was not to place in the top ten in 2023. She was doing well in Open, but Utility was a problem especially the directed jumping exercise. We have improved but we are still working on it.

As the year went on, I trialed her as much as I could, but I had to work around other commitments. I am sure I was like everyone else, keeping an eye on the standings. I was in the Top Ten thinking maybe I can hold there, so I continued ending up in fifth place for the year.

I thoroughly enjoyed the year enjoying the trials and all that goes with them. The comradery with other exhibitors enjoying each other’s successes and understanding the defeats.

There are so many people to thank who influenced my training but too numerous to mention. The most important person to thank is my wife, Bev, who has been with me through all the ups and downs of dog training and exhibiting. She is always there to help not only me but anyone who needs a hand. I could not have done it without her.

Congratulations to all those in the Top Ten. Wishing you continued success.

#7 – GMOTCH RCH Gorsebrook Solaia Zen Mindfull RMX SH VB  ETD WCX

Call name:  Phoebe
Labrador Retriever 
Date of Birth: January 31, 2018
Breeders:  Leslie Grant & Sharon Harris
Owner: Louise Falconer
Handler: Louise Falconer
Louise Falconer:
Thank you to the CKC for acknowledging our Obedience success in 2023.
I have had the dream of achieving a GMOTCH title on one of my Labs for a long time. Sadly, COVID and the subsequent lack of trials denied me this dream with my older Lab. But, the dream became a goal for my younger Lab, Phoebe. And the goal became reality in the late summer of 2023 - the culmination of many hours of training and travelling. To also be in the Top 10 Obedience dogs was the icing on the cake!   Phoebe - we did it!!
As always, my thanks and sincere appreciation go to Phoebe’s breeders, Leslie Grant and Sharon Harris of Gorsebrook Labradors, whose wise knowledge of genetics and years of breeding experience produced my wonder dog.
But the biggest thanks of all goes to Phoebe, my very special little soul, who has never wavered in her willingness to perform, bringing her lovely temperament, confidence and resilience to the most unique relationship I have had the honour to share.

 #8 – MOTCH GCHB Eternity's Vance

Call name:  Vance
Belgian Shepherd Dog
Date of birth:  September 7, 2019
Breeders:  Jesper and Karin Andersson
Owner:  Julie Skuba
Handler:  Julie Skuba

Julie Skuba:
2023 has been a fun and productive year for Vance and I.
Vance started the year with earning his UD/OTCh title in February. In spring, our focus turned to the Conformation ring where Vance competed in both the Canadian (BSDCC) and American (ABTC) National Specialties. He was awarded BOSS at the Canadian National and RWD for his first AKC Major at the American National. In August, Vance had acquired the points needed for his Grand Champion Bronze title. To finish the year, Vance completed his OTChX and MOTCh titles in September and has accumulated 4 legs towards his GMOTCh.  Vance also got his American CD and an invitation to enter the AKC Obedience Classic held in Orlando.  
All in all, in 2023, Vance earned UD/OTCH, OTChX, MOTCh and American CD Obedience titles. He also completed his GChB Conformation title with points won at both Canadian and American National Specialties. 
For 2024, we look forward to completing the GMOTCh Obedience title, possibly starting on a GChS, and just having fun!

#9 – MOTCH Sunfire's Jumpin Jack Flash

Call name:
Golden Retriever 
Date of Birth: May 25, 2016
Breeders: Sharon Cavanaugh & Barbara Biewer
Owner: Micheline Côté 
Handler: Micheline Côté

#10 – MOTCH Belcourt Black List AGIJ AGI JT NS

Call Name: Belle
Miniature Poodle
Date of Birth: March 18, 2016
Breeder: Murray Eason
Owner: Heather Box
Handler: Heather Box

Heather Box:

I have dabbled in dog Obedience all my life. I won Top Toy in Canada in 1995 with my little Papillon, CH OTCH Glenmargo’s Fancy Red Lace. At present we have two retired Miniature Poodle girls with GMOTCH Titles.  Now there is Belle, she is just super fun. My goal is to do the best we can on that day and have a good time at it. Two GMOTCH Titles in one household are enough. She is an ardent partner who loves to work/train; to play and to eat.

We have met so many friends over the years in this sport. I even look forward to seeing most of the judges.

Training is the best and such a good form of exercise for both of us. Linda Humeniuk is our faithful training partner with her Shibas. They encourage us to carry on.

Many thanks to our instructors over the years which include Lee Kozicki, Anne Stockman And Eve O’Keefe. Even our cat, Aggie, likes to cheer Belle on by lying in her article pile. This was always a challenge.

Eve O’Keefe has been known to say, “Her size may be diminutive but Belle is ALL DOG!”

Best of luck to all in 2024.


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