Dutch go heel to heel with dancing dogs

9th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

9 January 2004, AMSTERDAM — Pet owners in the north of the Netherlands are getting into step with the rest of the country as a local obedience school has announced the start of dog dancing lessons later in January.

9 January 2004

AMSTERDAM — Pet owners in the north of the Netherlands are getting into step with the rest of the country as a local obedience school has announced the start of dog dancing lessons later in January.

The craze has already won devotees in the rest of the Netherlands and is sweeping the globe, with dozens of British, American, German and Dutch websites devoted to dog dancing techniques and sporting photographs of masters and animals making like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

"A lot of people want to do nice things with their dogs, but they want something new as they have already done all the exercises, for agility and stuff like that," Annette Helder of the pet obedience school Quiraing said on Friday.

On its own website Quiraing in Haren, located in the Groningen Province, says to compliment its obedience classes in 2004 it will also be running a special course in dog dancing. The classes begin on 17 January, but as of Friday there were still some places on the dog dancing module.

A new trainer, Caren Appelmans, who has herself undertaken special "doggy dancing" courses, will teach the skill at Quiraing.

And what exactly is dog dancing?

Website caninefreestyle.com explains that the discipline originated from Britain and the US and mass interest was sparked worldwide by a performance by a Mary Gray and her dog at the Crufts International Dog show in Britain.

"This performance revealed numbers of supporters all over the world. Thus, many 'canine dance schools' opened their doors to the partisans of this new sport."
It is mainly a pleasant (feminine) and very creative sport, the website says.

Based on an obedience system, it is centered on giving rewards such as a piece of cheese, a ball or a cookie to help train a dog and invite it to unveil its artistic talents to music, which in turn reflects the master's talents.

The first official competition was held in Belgium in March 2001.

"You can teach dogs anything, but on their own they are not musical. Following instructions from their owner, they can however make the right movement at the right time," Helder said.

"Crawling, backwards crawling, slaloming, stretching out their paws, frolicking, rolling. You name it!"

Helder said the dogs love the attention from their owners: "If they do their best, they get a treat and even more attention".

She said the musical genre is entirely dependant on the owner's taste. She said it could be classical or for instance, the song by amazingly popular Dutch folk singer Frans Bauer entitled Heb je even voor mij? (Have you a moment for me?).

"Anything goes. Group dancing, with several dogs and their owners, is also possible," Helder said.

The good news is that all dog breeds, the fat, thin, big or small, can dog dance. 

[Copyright Expatica News 2004 + Novum Nieuws]

Subject: Dutch news + dog dancing

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