Here's a story we're running on A-14 Sunday. If you haven't heard of dancing dogs, they are amazing. I put a link at the end.
Award-winning dancing dogs bow — and wow
By Christy Goodman
The Washington Post
CHESAPEAKE BEACH, Md. — “Jingle Bells” blared from the stereo. Sam took a bow before the audience. Tucker waved and took off on a skateboard.
Then the two were spinning and kicking up their heels to the music. They leaped as their jazzy dance ended and basked in the crowd’s adulation.
But this was no ordinary recital: Sam and Tucker are dogs.
Sam, a standard poodle, and Tucker, a miniature long-haired dachshund, have been dancing professionally for nearly four years, said their Calvert County, Md., handlers, Lynn Franklin of Sunderland and Joan Rose of Owings. This was the dogs’ first Calvert show, at the Northeast Community Center in Chesapeake Beach.
“It is a lot of fun,” Franklin said. “They think it is play.” Her poodle has an award for heroism for rescuing her family from a house fire.
Rose said Tucker had been a Christmas gift from her husband. She said she noticed how receptive the dog was to learning tricks. That led to music to “pep this up,” and the act continued to evolve when she met Franklin.
The dancing dogs — the Boogie Woogie BowWows — have many gold medals, canine freestyle titles and trophies from their days on the competitive circuit, but now they’re professional. They just returned from a World of Pets Expo in Massachusetts and have traveled along the East Coast. They have been invited to perform in a countrywide dog variety show and on a European tour next year, along with other appearances.
“It is our pleasure to go and support their cause. That is our goal ... to bring theater, pets and fun to people,” she said.
When Tuesday’s show began, Franklin and Sam gazed into each other’s eyes as “Feliz Navidad” started to play. Franklin pulled a chicken-flavored treat from her mouth and passed it to Sam. Then they were off, doing their version of a samba.
Franklin lifted her leg and pointed her toes and Sam, who wore a sequined collar with matching anklets as he darted under her leg. Back and forth they went, tossing in a few spins. Sam was on his hind legs by the finish. More treats were produced and consumed.
As part of the educational portion of the 20-minute performance, held in conjunction with the Twin Beaches Library, Rose explained to the audience of children and their parents that Tucker — whose outfit matched Sam’s — is substantially smaller than Sam, making some of Tucker’s moves a bit trickier. Rose demonstrated that when Sam goes sideways, his long legs cross elegantly. For Tucker, the sidestep is more of a jig — on this evening, a soft-shoe dance to “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”
Canine freestyle, or dancing with dogs, has been growing on the pet sports scene since 1989, said Patie Ventre, founder of the Worldwide Canine Freestyle Organization. There are 1,500 registered members and competitors and nearly 4,000 others who bounce in and out of the group, depending on shows and contests in their areas.
In an average month, there could be up to five competitive events and a dozen demonstrations, workshops or live video competitions, Ventre said.
“I can honestly say there isn’t a weekend in this world where someone isn’t dancing with their dog somewhere,” said Ventre, who hopes canine freestyle will one day be an Olympic sport.
Like Sam and Tucker, about 65 percent of the freestyle competitors have jobs as therapy animals, she said, visiting nursing homes, hospitals and humane societies.
Abby Sweeney, 7, of Owings said she liked when Franklin and Sam made an arch during “Follow the Leader.”
“I liked going under the dog,” said Abby, who plans to teach her Great Dane, Daisy, how to dance. But Daisy already knows how to dance with Abby’s dad, said Abby’s mother, Mari-Ann Sweeney.