Until a few years ago, the only dog sports in Israel were Shutzhund and Agility. I used to watch in awe Freestyle and Heelwork to Music routines from abroad. Around 2004 or 2005 I saw my first live freestyle routine, performed by Osnat Lester and her poodle. Osnat had invited Kath Hardman to come over to Israel to teach her, and this short routine was the result of Kath’s visit.
At the beginning of 2009 I decided to start working on my first Canine Freestyle routine with my Australian Shepherd, Mikey (Michael Angelo). I bought a few books and DVDs, and started choreographing our first routine. As we had no Canine Freestyle or Heelwork to Music organization, I decided to enter our routine in a WCFO video competition. To my surprise, we earned a qualifying score.
In April 2009, Miss Alena Smolikova from the Czech Republic and her Border Collie Keysi were invited to perform 2 of their routines in a big dog training show, and I took this opportunity to organize a clinic with her. Only 4 dogs participated in the clinic, and 17 people came to just watch and learn. The 5 participating dog and handler teams included Nemesh – a 5 year old Labrador/Pointer, Meysi – a 2 yera old working German Shepherd, Rusty – a 4 year old Golden Retriever and Mikey – my then 6 year old Australian Shepherd. Alena gave us much information about different dog dancing organizations in Europe, and then showed how to teach several different moves she uses in her routines.
Following this clinic, I started to organize a Canine Freestyle group. We had people coming to participate from all over the country, but unfortunately most people could not come regularly, until I was the only person left in the group… Therefore, we STILL don’t have a dog dancing organization in Israel.
Since then, Mikey’s health deteriorated, and I retired him from Freestyle. When my young Working Sheepdog, ‘Nardo (Leonardo Da Vinci), was old enough we started competing in WCFO video competitions again. Our latest competition is the WCFO September video competition, with the routine we will be performing at the OEC.
The OEC will be our first live competition. My dogs and I, along with my business partner and her dogs, have done many dog training demos, some of which included a Canine Freestyle routine. Our demos are designed for a wide variety of audiences, and take place in many different locations around the country.
There are 4 people currently in the process of choreographing their first Canine Freestyle or Heelwork to Music around Israel. They plan to enter video competitions either with WCFO or MDSA. Hopefully, within a few short years there will be enough people to start organizing competitions here in Israel!
See you soon in Denmark,