DANCES WITH DOGS

by Marie-France Prayal

When I say to my friends that I am going to dance with ET tonight, they always look at me with a funny face... And yes, I am dancing with my ET, every Tuesday night! Let me tell you a little about this.

I started few years ago doing obedience training with Shaglear ET at Polana. From day one, he was an excellent learner. But, when I tried to do obedience trials, it was another story... ET got his first 2 legs however I was not really enjoying the activity. My instructor, Chris, said that it was me who was the problem. ET was feeling my stress and was not so good. Then Chris told me she was starting a dance class and if I wanted to try, ET would be probably an excellent candidate. So, I decided yes, I would try.

We use the clicker method training. ET loves food and he responds extremely well with this technique. The dogs are taught different movements and we often do routines alone or in a group with music. ET sure does enjoy Tuesday sessions. He always starts to get wound-up when I go for his leash, food and water. He runs to the car and away we go! In class, he learned very quickly how to step back, to make figure 8 between my legs and to change direction. One of my favourite routines is to have him walk between my legs and raise his paws up to me.

We have our routine, he and I. We also practice routines with my friends, a group of ladies who come every Tuesday night with their dogs. 8 in all; we enjoy ourselves. It's fun to see all these dogs, small, big, white and black, dancing with us to the tunes of ABBA!

Our show last fall in a local mall was quite a success. Group as well as individual performances made quite a hit with the crowd. I didn't feel the stress of the obedience trials as ET was following me with a big grin on his face, paying attention, and just happy to moving around me!

I'm sure we will dance on, learning more routines and my daughter Audrey, who is eager to learn, will ably aid us. As for me, I wish I could spend more time just practising ..... practising ......and practising!