"Beware of Dog . . . Dancing" (c) 2011 Trina Lambert

We liked it, we really liked it! Yes, Furgus and I went to our initial dog dancing class this past Saturday. To tell you the truth, I arrived questioning the whole idea—after all he hasn’t even reached eleven months on this earth.

You see, when we’d last been to the dog training facility, he had been taking Puppy Kindergarten. No matter what he knew at home, he always acted wilder there because everything was just so exciting—people, puppies, treats, smells—yikes! He never even got to graduate or say goodbye to his furry puppy friends, thanks to the vermin brought by our rescue dog Sam. That makes Furgus a puppy school dropout who has only been homeschooled (streetschooled?) since then.

Our current instructor said he didn’t need to have been through a formal obedience class to participate. Still, I knew he had too much energy and got too excited about school, so before we even arrived for class, I made sure to take him on my post-physical therapy one-mile run and one-mile walk.

Though I brought him in the crate, he still knew where we were when we turned into the parking lot. After several rounds together around the parking lot, I took a deep breath and walked (well, tried to walk) him to the foot/paw sterilizing station outside the door. Just try to spray four moving targets . . . at least I got my two feet done well.

Yes, my dog was that dog—the one who put his paws on the desk, the one who pulled at his leash, the one who whined non-stop, etc. Once again in my life, I felt like the mother of the child everyone considered “bad” for having too much energy. (Sorry to my son Jackson, but it’s true! Parents of low-energy children often consider high-energy children to have been poorly-parented, at best—and the child also to be morally bereft, at worst.)

It seemed as if Furgus were just too young for the class. I kept us separated from all social interactions, human and canine, so I could focus on trying to calm my charge. It didn’t matter—he continued with the monkey sounds even as the instructor brought us together to tell us how things worked. Once again, it felt just like at soccer practices in the early years with my son who couldn’t listen when the coach began practices by talking—just to be clear, though, my son never made monkey noises.

Fortunately, the instructor was wiser than some of our first soccer coaches. When time came to demonstrate the first move, she looked at him and said to me, “Your dog looks ready to go. I’ll start with him.”

Once Furgus got to work learning, he calmed down. It was all about the doing—and the treats!—for him. In fact, he learned quickly and now I felt proud. (Again, another comparison with my son—I swear I don’t think of Jackson as a puppy, but he was puppy-like in enthusiasm many times in his life!)

Really, the only problems we had in class from then on seemed to stem from my inability to slow down and/or get treats moving in the proper direction with the proper timing. Yes, back to that “handler error” pointed out to me when I was training my Chelsea over twenty years ago—I’m still not sure if I am as smart as an English Springer Spaniel when it comes to training moves and consistency!

Oh, he still seemed to think we were working on adding singing to the dancing, but at least he focused on the tasks at hand.

Now we are practicing at home for our next class session. The tricky part is that although I couldn’t convince either Sherman or Jackson to bring Sam to class—they seem to think dancing with dogs is dorky!—Sam is quite interested in dog dancing. Takes a lot of coordination between all of us to work with the dogs separately.

Yes, Sam apparently has begun dog dancing homeschooling lessons because he’s not at all interested in remaining a spectator to our sport—unless I can convince one of the guys to join the class for his sake.

This morning I got the dogs to turn in tandem using commands only and no treats on the very first try. We did it several more times—they really do know what to do.

Out of our way, folks. We’re working on getting to appear on Letterman for a “Stupid Pet Tricks” segment. Guess I’ll just send the guys a postcard from New York City when we arrive . . .