Editor's Note: Our guest blogger is Pam Jones. an MDSA member from New Mexico. This is the last of a four blog post series about freestyle teams who earned titles in MDSA's August 2013 Video event
Congratulations, Pam & Sandy!
Pam Jones & Sandy
Sandy is my second dog, second golden retriever, and also second freestyle dog. I started doing freestyle with my first golden, Kenzie, in 2005. A friend of mine sent me the video of Carolyn Scott and Rookie doing their Grease routine, and like so many others, this inspired me to give freestyle a try. Since I had already taught Kenzie a variety of tricks and also have a background in gymnastics/dance, it seemed like a great activity to try. So I picked out a song (a Beach Boys song because it wasn’t too long and I had no clue how to edit music back then) and tried choreographing a routine. My first routines with Kenzie were not great but it was a start, and since we did therapy dog visits, the freestyle dances were entertaining for the people we visited.
In 2007 Carolyn Scott came to St. Paul, MN (where I was living at that time) and did a two-day seminar which I was fortunate to attend. The seminar was fantastic and helped me to learn so much more about freestyle, especially how to pick music and put together a routine. Shortly after the seminar several of the other attendees and I got together and filmed routines to submit for an MDSA video event (Kenzie and I submitted a Rookie routine to get some feedback which was very useful). And, although there was some interest for freestyle in St. Paul/Minneapolis there wasn’t enough at that time to really have an organized group, so I was pretty much still on my own as far as doing freestyle.
In 2008 I decided to add a second golden to the household and that’s when I got Sandy as an 8-week-old puppy. It was obvious from the start that Sandy had the potential to do not only freestyle, but pretty much any other dog sport I wanted to try with him. He also quickly acquired the nickname the “Wild Child” because of his high energy. When Sandy was 11 weeks old, Kenzie, Sandy, and I moved from Minnesota to Albuquerque, New Mexico. This turned out to be a great move as far as doing more freestyle since there was an established freestyle group in Albuquerque, the Rio Grande Canine Freestylers (RGCF).
I joined RGCF pretty much as soon as I arrived in NM and the group has been super helpful and is a key reason Sandy and I have been able to develop our freestyle skills. RGCF Group members are great at helping each other with choreographing routines and also picking music (and have both saved me from several really stupid song choices and also helped me find some great music!). Another benefit of RGCF membership has been the seminars we have hosted with various freestyle experts (Attila Szkukalek, Richard Curtis, Michele Pouliot, Diane Balkovich, etc.). RGCF also does demos at various events in the Albuquerque area and those are lots of fun and a great opportunity to practice our routines.
MDSA has also been very important for helping Sandy and me advance in freestyle. We have participated in the Magic of the Match, MDSA video competitions, and also have benefited from the online workshops and discussions.
Sandy also has trained in obedience, rally, agility, and nosework. In addition to his MDSA titles (Novice and Standard), he also has CDX and RE titles and will soon be entering obedience trials to work on his Utility title. Sadly, I lost Kenzie in 2012 but I recently added another dog to the household – Cody who is now a six-month-old Toller puppy (as of Dec. 2013). Cody is quickly learning new skills and I hope to compete with him in freestyle, obedience, and agility. Sandy and Cody both have a huge amount of energy, so they have become great playmates.
Sandy is great to work with – well play with really since I try to think of everything we do as a fun and joyful activity – it’s all tricks for us!! I look forward to entering future MDSA events and hopefully continuing on with Sandy’s success and eventually doing MDSA freestyle with Cody as well.