Dog competition

Ohio Therapy Dog Wins National Trick Dog Contest

CLEVELAND — A northeast Ohio dog and his handler are getting national recognition for winning a major trick dog competition.


What do you want to know

  • Eli and his dog mother Leslie Gelesh have won the 2021 American Kennel Club Virtual Dog Contest
  • Gelesh and her husband used an edited Batman story to demonstrate the various tricks Eli can do
  • The Miniature Poodle also performs in nursing homes as a therapy dog

It’s been a tough day at work for Eli and Leslie Gelesh at the All Breed Training Club-Akron after exhibiting the talents of a Miniature Poodle.

“You could start really small and you could take a treat and lure them in,” Gelesh explained, using a treat to lure Eli through his legs.

Eli has a wide range of tricks from piano to ring throwing and even saving “Gotham City” as a caped crusader with his brother Chip.

“I’ve had dogs all my life, but I’ve never trained them before. It’s the first one I trained. And I’m not a professional trainer. I am a homebody,” Gelesh said.

This retired dog mom had Eli when he was over a year old. He had already started training, so she thought she would give it a try and take him to the next level.

When she first got involved in the AKC Virtual Trick Dog contest, she thought a Batman storyline she dubbed “Batman Furever” that includes rescuing the Pink Panther would be the best way to show off her skills. talents, while creating a new hobby.

“I love it. You know, it’s good for the dog. It’s fun for me. I’m creative. You know, sometimes a trick doesn’t work and you have to come up with an alternate plan to get the dog to figure it out. what you’re asking him to do. But, you know, it’s a puzzle game for me. It’s a puzzle game for him,” she said.

After calling it a session, Gelesh loaded up Eli and Chip and drove home, where there is not only a Batmobile, but also proof of Eli’s recent first place finish for the national competition. It’s a win Gelesh and Eli are very proud of.

“When I didn’t win the first time, which was probably an unrealistic expectation, then I thought, ‘Well, I can sort this out and start again.’ So we went all out. We did all sorts of stuff, we did – we added everything we could think of and ‘boom!’ Here we are, the #1 trick dog in the country,” Gelesh said with a smile.

Eli’s work doesn’t stop at competitions. He also performs in nursing homes, brightening the day for others as a therapy dog ​​and bringing joy to people like he brought joy to his mother dog.

“They’re so fun and they’re so active and interesting and they’ve made me so many friends,” Gelesh said. “Everywhere I go people connect with me through them and it has really been a great pleasure in my life.”

This poodle may not have superpowers, but he has a knack for tricks and putting smiles on faces.​