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Dogs, owners dance together with Canine Co-Motion

As members of Canine Co-Motion Freestylers, Ann Whatley and her dog Dusty dance together. They are ready to perform "Splish, Splash. I Was Taking a Bath." (CONTRIBUTED)
As members of Canine Co-Motion Freestylers, Ann Whatley and her dog Dusty dance together. They are ready to perform “Splish, Splash. I Was Taking a Bath.” (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – One of the world’s fastest growing dog sports, as seen on “America’s Got Talent” and “The Tonight Show,” delighted the audience at the Madison Street Festival.

Alabama’s only freestyle club, the Canine Co-Motion Freestylers performed in “freestyle,” a choreographed routine set to music for a dog and its owner.

Owners train solely with positive reinforcement. “We don’t ask our dogs to do any tricks/moves that make them uncomfortable,” Ann Whatley said.

Whatley and her dog Dusty performed “Splish, Splash. I Was Taking a Bath.” Other routines included “Yellow Brick Road,” “Pink Panther,” “Car Wash” and “Camp Granada.”

The club originated after Carol Pearce and Jody Cook, Huntsville Obedience Training Club members, competed in the World Canine Freestyle Organization and eventually offered classes.

“People smile when they see us with our dogs. They ask questions about training and care. The more educated the public is the fewer abandoned or aggressive dogs there will be,” Whatley said.

Originally just for fun, the club now gives venues for competition and public service.

Canine Co-Motion members are Andi Cobb with Sophia; Jody Cook with Spring, Oscar and Trip; Linda Freeman with Colby; Patricia Haag with Madison; Carol Kimble with Reese and Twinkle; Anne LaPointe with Kate; Marion Morris with Ghislaine; Brenda Murray with Sunny and Dusty; Cindy Payne with Zoe; Martha Reichold with Dare; and Nichelle Simon with Tobie.

Any non-aggressive dog with basic obedience skills can take freestyle classes. Owners train dogs daily for brief periods. “Dogs are smart and get bored with too much repetition,” Whatley said.

“Music should fit the dog’s personality first, then the trainer,” Whatley said. One member has a deaf dog that follows hand signals to dance.

“The dogs love it. (Owners) are a little bit crazy because we would do almost anything to see a smile on our dogs’ faces” Whatley said. The stress relief helps cancer survivors, senior citizens with arthritis and “young folks struggling to keep a job.”

Brenda Murray leads Canine Co-Motion.

For more information, email to brmurray@hiwaay.com or annwhatley@knology.net or visit HOTC.org.

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