Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dogs show off dance moves, sniffing skills for hundreds at local theatre


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Photo gallery: Dancing dogs bust a move

Dogs: They sniff, bite, snarl, bark -- and now apparently dance.
The Madrid Theatre in Canoga Park was packed Monday with 440 adults and kids eager to see a show by the groups Appawse and Canine Nose Work, which, as you probably imagine, feature trained pooches. Eleven of them, to be specific, performing choreographed routines to country, rock and Celtic tunes, among others. They also showed their stuff at some exercises at which dogs excel -- sniffing.

The event was one of the most popular among a series of free weekly morning concerts designed specifically for families. "We really try to give a lot of different cultural genres to the kids in order to instill the habit of coming to live performing arts," said Madrid house manager Shayna Kasbee. "The kids love animals, and I wanted to educate them on how to approach dogs."
According to J9's K9s Dog Training, the local company behind the event, the dogs actually choose their own music, as trainers who know each dog well pick the songs based on which the furry performers were excited by the most. The sport of "canine freestyle" has gained international popularity in recent years because of its appearances on America's Got Talent as well as the British version of the show.
"We really enjoy giving back to the community," said Janine Pierce, owner of J9's K9s. "And we wanted to show kids and adults what kinds of fun you could have with your dogs."
The animals' training runs anywhere from a couple weeks to five years. Although the lively audience easily distracted some of the more inexperienced dancers, the others were able to stay on point.
Kids especially love the show's sniffing segment, part of a recently popular canine sport that challenges pets to compete in finding various hidden scents.
The dog-owning Griffin family of Santa Clarita, including Samuel, 5, and Colton, 3, have traveled to four Monday shows, which have run the gamut from percussionists to theater and often involve the children themselves.
"Every dog they saw, they just wanted to go up there and pet them," said Jennifer Griffin, straining to be heard above the squealing youngsters. "It's great for the kids to see all of these different things, and we love dogs."
The Madrid Theatre is managed by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

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