Staff Report

This December, the most well-behaved and highly-trained dogs in the country will converge in Orlando on Saturday and Sunday, December 14-15 for the first-ever American Kennel Club® Obedience Classic (AOC).

The AOC will crown the top obedience dogs for the year in the Novice, Open, Utility and Masters classes. Valrico resident, Melissa Gilmer and her Golden Retriever, Brea Bel Canto Angela, aka Brea, qualified to compete and will strive to become the top dog in the Novice class.

Brea has not always been the confident dog that she is now. In fact, she was never intended to be an obedience show dog. Not long after she was brought to her forever home, it was discovered that she was not a happy curious puppy, but a puppy that was afraid of just about every kind of object. She lived in fear. Her owner hoped it was just a phase that would pass, and when it did not, sought the help of Brenda Saling, owner and trainer of S.O.S. Her owner worked diligently to help Brea overcome her fears. At one point it was suggested to put her into an obedience trial. Not only did she pass, but she and her owner made an excellent team. In a very short, time she was winning first place and has even accomplished a high score of a 199.5/200 in the Beginner Novice A class. Brea is also a therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International and visits Nursing homes, hospitals and schools. She is particularly fond of children. She is also learning to be a service dog for her owner, who was injured in a car accident some years ago. Gilmer said, “We are excited and expect great things from Brea, as she continues to excel in all aspects of her life.”

Three of the American Kennel Club’s largest events will be featured at one venue: the AKC Obedience Classic, AKC Agility Invitational and AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. The third AKC National Juniors Obedience Competition for kids ages 9-18 will also run in conjunction with the AKC Obedience Classic. Visit for more information. Selections from the Classic will be video streamed on

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