Saturday, August 2, 2008


Last year I was one of the judges for the World Canine Freestyle Organization's International Competition. It took place in Greeley, CO. This year it moved East, to Warwick, Rhode Island. Yesterday I drove down to watch and enjoy the competition for the day. It was great not to have to sit behind the judges' table with a straight face so the competitors couldn't second guess me as a judge and assume I like this or that. Frankly, I love it all. I love the fact that people are involved in this sport, colloquially known as Dancing with Dogs.

WCFO is the world's largest freestyle organization and competitors do, indeed, come from all over the world. Others compete via video entry. All are judged by the same rules.

I long ago labeled this "The Dog Smiling Sport -- everyone is smiling and the dogs are smiling at both ends!" Veterinarians have noticed that their patients who do freestyle are better balanced since they have to work on all sides of their owners. This is a team sport and the dog and owner are the team. 

Yesterday we not only saw pairs dancing (two owners with their dogs) but Brace as well. One owner, two dogs. That is quite an accomplishment.

The sponsors for this year's International, Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance foods and Animal Planet were out in force. For the first time there was a "kiss and cry" area for competitors to wait for their scores because for the first time the International is being televised. You will be able to see the competition on Animal Planet later this year. I  won't give away the name of the winner of the very first Animal Planet Trophy but I can tell you it was big and beautiful!

I had a great time sitting in jeans and a tee-shirt, largely unrecognized by many people because I wasn't in a suit. LOL  I saw old friends, cheered on the competitors and had a wonderful day. I love seeing the creativity of the owners in choreography, music selection, props. It's wonderful to see how much fun they and their dogs have while they're dancing and making the audience smile and cheer. It's a sport that's safe for all dogs, big and small, mixed breed, purebred, rescue. Dogs of all ages. I love the Handi Dandy division for handicapped dogs and/or owners and Sassy Seniors for senior dogs and/or owners, and the Junior Division with our stars of tomorrow who are shining brightly today. 

The best part is seeing the bond between owners and dogs. That's really what every dog sport should be about but in WCFO this is very much in evidence. The bond is more important than anything else and it's very much in evidence.  There is also a great camaraderie among competitors. It just doesn't get any better than that.

For more information about freestyle go to:


Roberta said...

I'm ready to join those Sassy Senior dogs! Sounds fun and is probably great exercise.

Darlene said...

You'd love it! It's great exercise for both dog and human. :-)

Dr. Schroth said...

Have you seen this video? It is quite impressive.

Darlene said...

Yes! Tina Humprhey is wonderful! There's another routine on YouTube that she did at Crufts. It's so wonderful that it brings tears to my eyes. It is so moving and such a glorious example of the human/animal bond. Thank you so much for posting that link!

That should be the link to her other performance. :-)