(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

Ever wonder what happened to my doggie dancing with Furgus? Well, it went from focused to spontaneous when our family had some other obligations. Poor Furgus! He loves dancing so much so that every time I turn on rollicking music he starts leaping at me—which would be really bad form in competitions.

Once you fall off the horse it’s really hard to get back on—OK, I didn’t fall off anything and Furgus isn’t big enough to ride so that expression makes little sense—sorry! What really happened is I stopped cutting up doggie treats and making time to practice.

Now, I, at least, have to relearn some of this stuff—maybe if I treat myself to some chocolate, I’ll be inspired to get us back out more regularly on the dance floor that is our living room rug. Good thing I really did file all the class papers in a notebook—and I even know where it is.

So though I kept saying I was going to start again, I never did—until my neighbor came over to tell me that someone’s fanatical barking at squirrels was waking her toddler. And how do you get an energetic young dog to calm down? You give him something better to do that, with any luck, will also tire him out.

The great thing about doggie dancing is that it is a very efficient way to use up a dog’s energy. The dog has to apply both his body and brain in order to dance. A person can wear out a dog by dancing with him for only ten to fifteen minutes while the dog’s going to need 45 minutes or more of walking to reach a similar level of exhaustion. Given my dog’s still less-than-stellar walking-on-a-leash skills, especially when I am alone and have to walk him and Sam myself, I like the dancing a lot more.

Truth is I enjoy the dancing more anyway. This guy is smooth with his moves. As our teacher said, his tri-colored English springer spaniel coloring—with the white chest and mostly black coat—just makes him look as if he’s formally dressed and ready to glide across some ballroom floor. When Furgus and I practice when Sam is otherwise occupied, he is calm and focused.

I love Sam, but when we’re dancing he reminds me of the George Balanchine quote: I don’t want people who want to dance. I want people who “have” to dance. He wants to dance, but he’d be just as happy doing something else to earn his treats. He is more of an athlete—the kind of guy more attuned to the leaping and maneuvering of agility activities than dancing gracefully.

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2012 Christiana Lambert

Don’t worry—I get that my dogs aren’t people. However, Furgus has always been that dog who “has” to dance. Wouldn’t I rather he be the dog dancing than the one barking at squirrels, even if those squirrels are why Furgus developed his ability to stand for so long on his back legs?

At this time I have no idea if we will pursue canine freestyle dancing in a competitive setting—after all I have not been disciplined enough practicing obedience training with him so that he is well-behaved enough to compete. If we’re going to get better at this, we’re going to have to leave Sam out of most of our dance sessions and let someone else in the family give Sam his focused play time.

One way or another Furgus and I must continue our return to dancing together because we both “have” to dance—and dancing allows us to be good to our neighbors at the same time. And that’s a win-win situation even if our dancing never wins us a thing.