dogshow.jpgPhoto by Usag Yongsan
Women and dogs shimmy and shake at the Pet Expo
The aisles at the Pet Expo in the Vancouver Convention Centre were lined with natural pet remedies, dog toys, hamster exercise equipment, bird sanctuaries filled with macaws, budgies and cockatoos, a rabbit rescue centre and a booth with hairless cats for sale. The Canine Freestyle Dancing show was setting up in the centre ring, where fifteen women were skipping around in circles, each with a dog by her side; they were whistling and giving hand signals, and a few of them held treats in the air to tempt their dogs to jump. At two o’clock the lights went down and a spotlight followed a woman in a velvet cape as she walked up to the microphone. “Practice is over,” she said. “Vicki and her Siberian husky, Spirit, will be the first act today. They’ve been dancing together for three years.” Vicki and Spirit stepped into the ring and Vicki lifted her hand and dropped her head, and Spirit lay down by her side. The first few bars of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” blasted through the speakers and Vicki waved her hand and she and Spirit began to skip and sway across the floor. Vicki held Spirit’s front paws for a few turns and then Spirit twirled around her. A bald man in the back row laughed hysterically and a woman swivelled around in her seat and frowned and shook her head.
The next performer, Coco, a six-year-old Belgian shepherd, stood on his back legs and hopped alongside a woman wearing white go-go boots who jiggled her hips in time to “YMCA.” Coco weaved between her legs, rolled across her feet, lay on his back and kicked his legs in the air. The woman’s brow was furrowed and sweat ran down her face. Coco bounded in front of her, then backed through her legs and sneezed twice. The judges looked at each other and one of them wrote something down. A tall woman shimmied across the floor with Toby, a one-and-a-half-year-old border collie, and she waved a conductor stick and Toby jumped up and danced on his hind legs, trotted across the ring, picked up a rose in his teeth, brought it back and dropped it on a red pillow at her feet. Then he rolled over, crawled on his belly across the floor and seemed to lose interest. He leapt up and ran after a Chinese crested who was chasing a ball thrown by a woman dressed in a sweater with a Yorkshire terrier on the front. A big blond woman danced a jig with a golden retriever named Holly to an Ashley MacIsaac fiddle tune; Holly wagged her tail and leapt over the big blond woman’s outstretched leg and the music crackled and skipped ahead; they had to speed up to stay with the beat and they were finished long before the song had ended.
In the last act, five women dressed in cowboy hats and red silk blouses line-danced with a Pomeranian, a Portuguese waterdog, a German shepherd, a golden retriever and an Irish terrier, all wearing matching red scarves, to Shania Twain’s “No One Needs to Know.”