2018 National Obedience Championship

Saturday, September 01, 2018 8:00 PM | Front & Finish (Administrator)

By Dee Dee Anderson

Another National Obedience Championship (NOC) and Rally National Championship (RNC) have come and gone for 2018.  For me personally, each year as the events roll out, I find many wonderful memories flooding back:  the joy of qualifying, getting ready – training to keep on top of the exercises, the travel to new places, attending, placing and, of course, winning.   But most of all, I treasure the new friendships made and visiting with other competitors you have not seen in a long time.  I hope to be able to attend one or both of these events again in the near future.   At least now, even if you can’t go, you can watch the event on AKC TV Online. The live streaming has significantly improved and live commentary has been added.  Thanks to the AKC for investing in the technology to make this happen.   

The 24th NOC was held in Wilmington, OH, at the Roberts Centre on June 30th and July 1st.  144 teams came to compete for the NOC title.  All teams competed in 8 rings on Saturday and were judged on two to three exercises from Open and Utility in each of the rings.  Saturday afternoon, awards were given to the top 4 in each groupas well as the top 50 all-breed overall.  The top 50 teams then moved on to Sunday morning to compete again in 8 rings – with a similar structure to Saturday’s event -- being judged on two to three exercises per ring.  The top 20 teams from Sunday morning moved on to compete in 4 rings in the afternoon, being judged on two exercises by two judges in each ring. Awards were then given out to the top 10 and the National Obedience Champion was crowned.  For all the details for this event go to:  https://www.akc.org/sports/obedience/events/national-championship/

At the time of this writing, the video could be seen on  the AKC TV website:  https://akc.tv/watch/7/1341/event/2018-akc-national-obedience-rally-championship/?ctx=/watch/21/973/akc-topic/dog-sports/

A Judge’s Perspective

I asked Rick Garvin, one of the judges at the NOC, to give us some insight on judging the NOC.

Rick Garvin

I was privileged and honored to be asked to judge this year’s National Obedience Championship (NOC). Although the format of the tournament has changed significantly in the past 20 plus years, it remains a grueling 2-day event with the eventual champion crowned on Sunday afternoon.  

This year’s location for the event was located about 60 miles from Cincinnati.  The judges were asked to fly into Cincinnati and if possible to car pool to Wilmington.  My car pool was comprised of three judges and we headed for Wilmington around 1:00PM, arriving around 3:00PM -- including a quick stop for lunch.  After arriving at the motel, we wandered down to the show site and watched the last portion of the RNC competition.  The hotel is connected to the show site making for an easy walk to and from the rings.  The AKC sponsors a judges’ dinner (RNC and NOC judges plus AKC staff) on Friday night, and then it was time to hit the sack for a good night’s sleep.  Both Saturday and Sunday dinners for the judges were “on your own” and made for a relaxing time to talk obedience, laugh a lot and just relax after a long day of judging.  Monday was the “return to home” day, so early in the AM, judges headed to the airport (hopefully) for on-time flights!

From my perspective, this tournament is first class and is second to none.  The dogs invited to compete have earned at least one OTCH point and thus are the cream of the crop from an obedience perspective.  This year there were 48 breeds represented with exhibitors coming from 32 states (plus 1 from Canada).  The AKC staff go out of their way to welcome exhibitors, stewards, workers and judges. The venue, as always, is a fantastic place to exhibit a dog.  The hotel complex had plenty of grass to exercise a dog with several areas completely fenced making for a secure area to run a dog.  The only negative I can think of for this location is the lack of other motels in close proximity to the show site.  The actual show venue was very spacious allowing for plenty of room for the 8 rings and plenty of crating space.

My assignments for the weekend included the following exercises

  1. Saturday:Retrieve on Flat and Directed Jumping,
  2. Sunday AM:Retrieve over High Jump, Retrieve on Flat, and Drop on Recall,
  3. Sunday PM:Drop on Recall and Broad Jump.

Although these combinations made for a long day, they were far from boring.  The dogs are all well trained, the teams executed the exercises with class and -- pass or fail -- the sportsmanship demonstrated by the exhibitors was outstanding.  It was fun and exciting to evaluate teams (many of whom I had not previously judged) from different parts of the country using different styles and methods to handle his/her dog both between and during an exercise.  Since I had been assigned three exercises requiring a “dumbbell throw,” I witnessed a lot of funny bounces, both inside and outside the ring, due to the carpeting which required a good sense of humor -- both from the exhibitors as well as myself.  As one would expect with a tournament of this caliber, my stewards were excellent and kept me moving the entire day.

Although future locations for the RNC/NOC tournament (after Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2019) have not been announced, I would be surprised if the Wilmington location is not high on AKC’s list.  The hotel staff was very supportive, and it certainly is a “dog friendly” hotel.

To conclude, if you are invited to exhibit or judge at future NOC events, JUMP at the chance and say “YES.”  You will not be disappointed.  The tournament is always in need of volunteers, so please think seriously about volunteering as you will have a front row seat watching more than 100 of the best teams in the country.

My wife and I will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 15-17, 2019.  Come and be part of this fantastic event; you won’t be disappointed!!!!!!!

Winner’s Perspective

1st Place: Score 493

NOC OTCH High Times Hit The Ground Run’N UDX2 OM4 SH (Streak), a Golden Retriever handled by Bridget Carlsen of Yorkville, IL.

First, it is always a humbling experience to compete at the NOC. The hours of work that the AKC and their Sponsors invest to put on such a prestigious event are outstanding. Also, the effort and contribution of the judges and volunteers is amazing. Hats off to all!!!

Secondly, it is always an honor to compete with such wonderful teams from all over the country. I am so grateful to be able to watch my students, along with dogs that my parents have bred, compete year after year at this extraordinaire event.   That being said, without a great dog it is hard to reach for the sky. I have always had the honor of having an amazing animal at my side, and this is all possible because of my parents, John and Nancy Miner.  I am FOREVER and EVER THANKFUL!

I have been blessed to have won the NOC three times now. Once with NOC OTCH Saucy MH QAA (who is the only NOC OTCH MH QAA Golden) and twice with NOC2 OTCH Streak SH.  The dam of both these dogs is OTCH Soupy MH QAA.  Again, this is so humbling.   Where would I be without Soupy?  

Appreciating, respecting and admiring the dog beside you is a joy and victory in itself. 

Lastly, I am lost for words when trying to express my gratitude for the support I receive from my family and friends/students.  Truly – it is one big family united in the same dream!!  The dream of doing what we love and loving what we do!! 

1st Runner-Up:  Score 492.5

Kramie’s Ever So Clever UDX OM1 GO MX MXJ (Eddie), a Pomeranian handled by Peggy McGrath of Shelbyville, KY.

In 2013, I was searching for my third Pomeranian and found my wonderful dog Eddie.  He was 3 months old and his picture was posted on an all-breed rescue site in Michigan.  When my application for Eddie was accepted, I traveled from Kentucky to pick up my new rescue puppy.  On returning home, our obedience training began immediately with short sessions 3 to 4 times a day.  When he first arrived, he was half the size of my shoe!

I learned much of my foundational obedience training skills from my long-time mentor and friend, Linda Koutsky.  These motivational methods are what Eddie and I have worked on for the last 4 years in preparation for earning obedience titles.  Ed was a quick learner and due to great foundational skills, we encountered only a few bumps in the road on our journey to the utility title.  Thus, our titles came cheap with few non-qualifying scores!  Eddie is a very consistent, compliant, and happy worker and a true partner.  

Because Eddie loves the obedience game and is a reliable and willing worker, I thought we could take on the challenge of a tournament such as the National Obedience Championship (NOC).   Thus, we sent in our entry, not with high expectations of placing, but for the opportunity to showcase a willing working dog that knows his job and loves to do obedience.  

The atmosphere at the NOC was welcoming and exciting.  Eddie was confident during the competition and just got better and better with each round of competition.  Most importantly, all the spectators and competitors were very supportive of Eddie and me.  Eddie made a ton of new friends who were all nice enough to let him sit on their laps - one of his very favorite things to do at dog shows.  

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the AKC for this memorable event.  I also want to thank everyone who has helped me with training and friendship along this journey.  Our successes would not be possible without your help and support.  

2nd Runner-Up:  Score 491

OTCH Gad’s Mysterious Marigold UDX OM2 GN (Goldie), a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever handled by Kathleen Keller of Flemington, NJ.

This was not Goldie’s first NOC.  We competed in 2017 in Perry, Georgia.  She did not have fun showing there and consequently we did not make the Top 50.  On the long ride home, I made the decision to retire her from Obedience.  She, like all my retired Obedience dogs before her, became my husband’s sidekick.

In January, 2018, I heard that the location for the NOC was being moved to Ohio (closer to our home state of New Jersey) and the date was being moved out to the end of June.  Since Goldie had qualified, I decided to “dust” her off and put her back into training.  She seemed happy to be working again so I went ahead and sent in our entry.  This would be her grand finale.  

This year, all the stars seemed to align for Goldie.  She was on a road trip without her “brothers” and “sister”, she got to room with her “boyfriend” and “Mom” brought her favorite reward (Combos) which never seem to lose their magical power.  She had a blast!  

For me, the road to the podium took 25 years and was paved with many supportive friends, very talented trainers -- Kathleen Walker and Martha McCluskey --a great husband and an extra special dog.  I want to thank everyone, especially Goldie.  I really enjoyed the ride!

3rd Runner-Up:  Score 490

OTCH Goldenloch Makin’ A Statement UDX28 OGM (Bubba), a Golden Retriever handled by Gary J. Platt of Papillion, NE.

It was a thrill to place yet once again at the NOC with Bubba. Bubba is now 10 years old, and for a Golden simply to be able to compete at age 10 is a blessing, and to do well is especially gratifying. Bubba is not a flashy performer, yet he is consistent and accurate. 

The format for the NOC has changed several times throughout the years, and this is first time in the current format that started in 2016 that we cracked into the top four.  Since 2016, the NOC’s invited teams compete Saturday with only the Top 50 continuing to compete on Sunday – as a separate competition. Then on Sunday afternoon, the Top 20 compete with scores reset once again, and the final Top 10 placements are recognized.

Besides being a good competition dog, Bubba is a wonderful companion. Bubba wants to please and worries if I am not smiling in the ring. My job is to keep him emotionally comfortable and happy. This means doing what we have practiced and giving verbal cues and gestures that have been associated with having a good time and may signal a food or play reward. When I do my part well, Bubba gives a solid effort. 

Thank you, Deborah Porth Blackwell, for breeding this wonderful boy. Kathy and I will never forget your warm hospitality and willingness to allow us to play with the litter for two days before selecting Bubba. Thank you also for the incredible amount of time you spend with and expose your litters to so many useful experiences prior to their placements. 

Kathy, thank you for your sharp eye that catches handling or performance glitches as well as your overall support with training and beyond. Thanks also to our many friends in the sport and students of past and present for your encouragement and support. 

Bubba will still be age 10 in March of 2019. Should we once again be invited and blessed to be physically able, Bubba and I will compete at the NOC in Tulsa. Look for the whitest-faced golden with a rope tug toy in his mouth.

5th place: Score 489.0  
OTCH Companion's He Reigns In Victory UDX18 OGM TKA (Border Collie - Reign) Victory Hulett/Renea Windley / Deland , FL.

6th place:  Score 485.5
GCH CH OTCH Callista Eye Candy Sportingfield UDX3 OM4 HSAs HSBs (Border Collie - Maverick) Mitzi Tinaglia / Roanoke, VA.

th place:  Score 485.5
OTCH Faerie Master Craftsman UDX21 OGM GN GO RAE8 PT (Shetland Sheepdog - Deacon) Charles J Chmura/Linda G Lundgren / Cypress, TX.

th place:  Score 485.0
OTCH Renegade's Blackeyedpea UD AX AXJ (Labrador Retriever - Ruby) Jane K Jackson / Walworth, NY.

9th  place:  Score 484.5
OTCH Rhumbline's Once In A Blue Moon UDX6 OGM BN GN VER RE JH ACT1 (Labrador Retriever - Heart) Linda S Brennan / Columbia, NJ.
10th  place:  Score 484.0
OTCH Tanbark's Autumn Spice Girl Kayla UDX6 OGM BN GN GO VER RAE CA DS (Golden Retriever - Kayla) Jacqueline M Sperlbaum/Raymond Sperlbaum Jr / Powder Springs, GA.

Sporting Group Winner

OTCH Goldenloch Lay Down Your Bets UDX33 OGM RN (Golden Retriever - Layla) Peggy McConnell 

Layla started out this year with a bang, earning two 200 scores in our first weekend in January. She currently has twenty-six 200 scores and a grand total of 5,661 OTCH points, which puts us in the number 6 position for Lifetime Points Earned for all AKC recognized breeds. In 2015, she was the Top Obedience Dog of The Year. I might add that Layla is my first Golden. Boy, did I get lucky! In answer to your question about our journey to the 2018 NOC, let me say that the best Layla had done at the NOC is fourth (last year) and our goal was to improve on that.  In previous years, I conditioned Layla by throwing bumpers. However, that tactic provided two different injuries and I was not about to repeat that mistake. As she is getting older and is not a high-drive dog, I decided to do controlled conditioning. Therefore, I purchased a doggie treadmill around the first of the year and began to condition Layla. I first had to train her on the machine. Once that was done, I started a 2-minute walk with a 2-minute cool down period. I started her out with a 5-minute trot and built her up to a 12-minute trot prior to the NOC. I think that conditioning really helped this year and she did not seem to tire as quickly as in years past. My plan is to continue that conditioning and build her up to a 15-minute workout. 

I determined that Layla works better and more reliably when she stays in competition instead of taking weekends off.  Unfortunately, there were no local shows the weekend prior to the NOC. Therefore, I decided to take her to the St. Louis Regional show which was the weekend prior to NOC -- with the goal of getting ready for the NOC and not caring how we did at the Regional.  Further, because the new exercises seemed to be messing with Layla's confidence, I opted not to do those exercises at the Regional. Mary Higman (AKC Rep at the Regional) told me I could just tell the judge when I did not want to do an exercise and we would skip it and go on to the next exercise.  However, we did not "train" in the ring. I gave no extra commands.  My goal was to boost confidence in my dog and I think it worked very well. My recommendation to trainers attending the NOC is to be relaxed and try to have high confidence in the dog.  I was very happy to win the Sporting Group (which we had never done!) but more importantly, I feel Layla showed what a wonderful dog she really is. She was happy, willing and accurate. We had a blast and really enjoyed sharing the event with local trainers, Sheryl Archer, JoAnne Weaver, Terry Thornton, Peggy Garic and Jamime Asido. Many thanks to Sheryl Archer who found a training facility where she, JoAnne Weaver, Terry Thornton and myself trained for a couple of days prior to the NOC. It was great fun to help and visit with each other.

Hound Group Winner

TC Wheatridge Soloist O'Kahlu UDX5 OM8 SC CGC (Rhodesian Ridgeback - Cello) Pat Brunstetter/Thomas H Shar 

Cello is the 6th dog I've taken to the NOC, the 5th Ridgeback and the 4th time I have won the Hound Group with a RR (I also took a Golden before).  This was a special year for me -- as the breeder, owner, and trainer of Cello -- who finished her Triple Championship (Field, Breed, OTCH) -- always “owner-handled) in every venue.  I was thrilled to be able to showcase how talented, beautiful, and hard-working Ridgebacks can be.  Cello was a singleton, but is a whole litter wrapped into one super girl. To my knowledge, she is the first Hound to achieve all three of these Championships. 

Cello is home schooled, always fun to train, super enthusiastic, and a joy to live with. She only knows how to give 100%. She is the 3rd OTCH RR -- her mom (OTCH Wheatridge Condelezza O'Kahlu UDX6 OM6) was the first OTCH RR, and her aunt, GCH OTCH Wheatridge's Pecan Sandie UDX8 OGM was the second OTCH RR -- all bred, shown, and trained by me. Cello has also given me a beautiful daughter who is showing great things in obedience. 

I would like to thank the AKC, the Obedience Department, and Eukanuba for putting on such a lovely event. 

Working Group Winner

Lyndobe's Lexus V Lynmar UDX2 OM3 BN GO (Doberman Pinscher - Lexus) Carolyn Sorg 

I purchased my Doberman Pinscher Lexus in January of 2010.  I have trained a lot of different breeds over the years, but Lexus was eager to learn from the beginning.   Lexus got her CD on March 16, 2013, her CDX on April 27, 2014 and her U-CDX on July 26, 2014.   She completed her GO on April 26, 2015 and her UD on July 18, 2015.  The then completed her Obedience Master 1 on April 30, 2016, followed by her UDX on May 7, 2016.  Next were Obedience Master 2, completed on Nov.6, 2016, Obedience Master 3 on May 7, 2017, UDX2 on May 7, 2017, and Obedience Master 4 on April 28, 2018.  

We took some time off to do barn hunt and she got her RATN on Dec. 3, 2016.  She earned her Working Aptitude Certificate when she was 18 months old from the Doberman Pinscher Club of America.  She has had a few HITs and two HCs.  She also competed in the Doberman Top Twenty in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.  Lexus has 28 OTCH points, but I have never made it a goal of to earn an OTCH.  

This is the first year we’ve gone to the NOC and all I wanted to do was just pass.  I didn’t set my goal very high, as I thought we wouldn't get past the first day of competition.  To my surprise, Lexus made the top 50, and she won 1st place in the Working Group.   I had no game plan for the second day, so I again decided to just do our best to pass every exercise.  Again, Lexus surprised me by passing all the exercises and finally ending up in 24th place overall.  Talk about a super high, of being able to compete with all those wonderful handlers and their dogs.  Lexus was such a trooper and I think she kind of liked only doing three exercises at a time.  Lexus is now 8½ years old and I hope to keep showing her as long as she is healthy and able to jump.  It's been a journey I didn't think I was capable of achieving, and I have enjoyed every minute.

Terrier Group Winner

Southcross Double Feature UDX2 OM3 BN GN VER RE MX MXB MXJ MJB SE RATO CGC TKA (Miniature Schnauzer - Violet) Christine Carter

What an amazing feeling it was to win the Terrier Group at the 2018 National Obedience Championship. I was honored to be invited to compete at such a prestigious event with some of the best teams in the country. Violet is my Novice A dog.  I had hoped to put a UD on her. We had a rough start to our obedience career. We barely made it through Novice.  Vi fouled the ring a couple times and our scores were not great. We earned our CD with a 170. 

She was young and immature with moments of brilliance. I decided to give her some time to settle while working on Open and Utility. In that time, we participated in Agility, Earthdog, Barn Hunt, and Nosework to mix things up with Vi’s obedience regimen. While training obedience, I started to think that maybe we could go further than a UD. She was doing well and really seemed to enjoy it. I had great instructors who were very helpful and encouraging. We started showing in Open, earning our CDX quickly with nice scores. She had come a long way since Novice. I had a completely different dog. 

Utility was more challenging. We had some beginner’s luck. The first time we stepped into the Utility ring, we qualified!  Then at the Miniature Schnauzer National, we earned our second leg with High In Trial from Utility A. That was followed by months of not qualifying.  I was frustrated. I made some adjustments to my training.  After just a few weeks post adjustment, we completed our UD.  It had finally clicked and things started to take off. I decided to try for a UDX. We got our second UDX leg with a second-place finish in Open with a score of 198, our highest score yet!  We also earned our first OTCH points!  I never thought we would earn OTCH points, especially living in St. Louis with such wonderful teams. The OTCH points wrote our ticket to the NOC.

 Prior to the NOC, Violet and I warmed up at the Rally National. We earned a perfect 100 on our first run.  Vi’s performance in our second Rally ring was substandard. I worried that this would carry over into her performance at the NOC.  On the first day of the NOC, we were able to pull it together, completing all 8 rings and 22 exercises clean!!  We won the Terrier Group and made it into the Top 50! On Sunday we enjoyed every minute competing with the Top 50 dogs. What an awesome first NOC experience to have and always remember.  Vi is a remarkable little dog. She continues to surprise me all the time. I could not ask for a better partner on this journey.  Thank you to Dog Sports at Kim’s and the North St. Louise County Obedience Training Club. 


Toy Group Winner

Kramie's Ever So Clever UDX OM1 GO MX MXJ (Pomeranian - Eddie) Peggy McGrath  (see 1st runner up)

Non-Sporting Group Winner

1st CH MACH Petit Ami's Noble-Art VCD3 UDX3 OM3 MXB MJB TKN (Bichon Frise - Tate) Barbara Chaffin/Paula Hendricks 

Tate (or “Tater Tot” to some of his human friends) was imported from Norway at four months of age.  His training in obedience, agility and tracking began immediately.  Bichons are not known for their great work ethic, so I am very pleased that Tate has been able to accomplish so much.  His favorite activity is being a lap dog and he works as a therapy dog in a READ program with special education children.  I will be the first to admit that winning the Non-Sporting Group at the 2018 NOC was a complete and quite unexpected surprise.  Friends that I train with gave me great advice about how to train for the event and told me to forget about details and just have fun so that’s what we did.  Tate did have fun at the NOC and qualified Saturday on all the exercises, which was the key to his success.

Herding Group Winner

OTCH Companion's He Reigns In Victory UDX18 OGM TKA (Border Collie - Reign) Victory Hulett/Renea Windley 

What an amazing and challenging year it has been getting to the 2018 NOC.  We began by winning the 4-Paws Regional Qualifier in Georgia.  Reign continued showing at a few local Florida trials and we successfully added to our career perfect score total of 57.

About midway through the year we were informed that my husband had cancer which then curtailed our show schedule.   Everything became a true struggle, and it didn’t look promising for us to continue to show, much less find practice time. 

It was a great unexpected joy and honor when I was able to walk into the ring to complete with my beloved Reign for the 2018 NOC.   He showed with grace and skill that thrilled my heart.  Reign’s ability to step up when I need him is truly astonishing.   I would like to congratulate each team that was able to compete in this very special event. 

Misc/FSS Group Winner

OTCH Lola Sugar And Spice UDX3 PCDX OM6 BN GN GO RE CAA CGCA CGCU (All American Dog - Lola) Kathryn Harvey 

This was the first NOC for Lola and me together as a team. The Roberts Centre was a beautiful venue and the event was so well run and organized. Thank you to the AKC staff and all the volunteers for their many hours of work.

Lola is a great partner -- she is smart and feisty.  She loves doing obedience, which makes it fun and easy to train her.  However, she tends to be environmentally- and people-sensitive, so showing her can be challenging. We have worked hard this past year; I’ve tried to expose her to many different venues and many new judges.  I am so proud of how well she handled the pressure of the NOC. We had many smaller goals we wanted to meet, but to pass all the exercises, progress though each level of competition, and ultimately finish 13th overall was exciting for our first time. 

I appreciate all the wonderful compliments we received; it makes all the challenges and hard work worthwhile.  Congratulations to all the participants and winners. We can’t wait until next year!

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