Cavalier Team Demonstrates CanineFreestyle DogWork®
at American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club National Specialty
By Dee Wallis (Carolina Canine Freestyle Guild)
The opportunity of having a Cavalier National Specialty near to home and a number of other Freestyle enthusiasts within reasonable travel distance was a good opportunity to show off what our little dogs can do. A very small percentage of cavalier owners do any performance sports with their dogs. Raising that percentage is one of my missions in life. It seemed that a demonstration of four people and working together with their cavaliers would be dramatic and entertaining for the uninitiated and might perhaps arouse curiosity in one or two people. This was a good chance to prove that these little dogs have great brains and love to work.
Having Joan Tennille supporting and planning makes any project more likely to succeed. Joan picked a piece of music for us that had a strong, but slow rhythm to it, with a number of natural pauses. That allowed our dogs all to adjust their natural rhythm to coordinate better with each other. Joan helped us design a floor pattern for four dogs that was a fairly simple variation on one basic movement: the come-fore. We had three black and tan dogs, with one Blenheim for accent. There was a wide range of age and training experience that worked with the simple clean lines of the choreography. The result was a clean, simple looking pattern. The one different color provided enough accent and the movement never got fussy.
Getting together to train was the big issue, as we lived in two states, and the closest training facility required three to four hours of travel for many. But, we made that work and got together about four times to prepare. We videotaped our practice sessions, so that everyone could use the videos as well as memory to work in between the group sessions. Each time, we began with a run through without dogs – to work our glitches out and preserve their energy. In between, we each worked our own pattern, visualizing our partners. The result was that by the end, we could all walk through it together, in good synch, even without the dogs or the music. Then, when we put it all together with the music and the dogs, for the spectators, we were truly in Joan’s pink bubble.
*Photos: ©Tom Wiegand. The Winning Image