Editor's Note: Our guest blogger is Mitzi Tinaglia, an MDSA workshop presenter and former MDSA judge from Roanoke, Virginia. She trains her students in the sport of canine musical freestyle. This summer her team, The Star City S'Waggers, became the first group to earn an MDSA Novice Team Title.
Congratulations, Team S’waggers!
The story of the Star City S’waggers Canine Freestyle Group began in March, 2011. I woke up very early one March morning with a clear vision of starting a canine freestyle program at our club. It presented itself distinctly.
The vision (or was it fantasy?) was to start the first session of freestyle classes at our club, training and learning freestyle by performing a group/team routine. The perception was to design a basic and fundamental approach to a complete choreographed group/team presentation. The grassroots design was to effectively incorporate all the various elements of a comprehensive dog sport into a group/team routine. The design was so that the handlers/trainers could learn the complete process on a very basic level.
I knew this was quite an ambitious undertaking. I asked, my freestyle mentor, Candace Crouch if she would like to help. I knew between our combined freestyle experience and dog training talents that we could do it. Our canine freestyle knowledge, dog training skills, and teaching skills counterbalanced each other well.
We announced our first Canine Freestyle class through the club’s training program with the description of the class and the objective of a group routine. We asked that the dog and handler teams registering for the classes have basic skills, as in front, and both sides heeling, capable of learning tricks/moves and appropriate attention from the dogs.
Twelve classes later, the S’waggers had launched this vision into reality with their first successful routine. They have performed four routines. They have earned their first canine freestyle team title performing with three successful routines through MDSA.
The Star City S’waggers advanced group is training and playing with their 5th routine currently and are looking forward to the final video performance in spring.
The S’waggers love the creativity and challenges that the group routines present. The fellowship and freestyle relationship with their canine partners keep them excited about moving on to even another group performance!
The S’waggers are very pleased that their Canine Freestyle program has been quite successful and grown in members. There are, now, two team/group levels, beginners and advanced. We have three additional talented instructors, Dawne Coleman, Suzie Tingley and Connie Kniseley.