Get GOTTA DANCE
DVD as a gift with Comparative Oncology
Research Donation . . . Helping both Man and Dog
Learn more about
GOTTA DANCE at
|100% of this
donation will be provided to
Dr. Modiano, Director of the Animal Cancer Care and Research Program,
College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.
Comparative oncology is the study of those cancers that occur
similarly in people and companion animals in order to identify treatments and
cures that benefits them both. A distinction to comparative oncology
research is the fact that disease is never induced in the animals being treated.
That is, the cancer has only occurred spontaneously.
Humans and dogs have been linked in a mutually beneficial relationship
since the Stone Age, when man and dog first joined in the hunt. Dogs
share our homes, food, and affection. As it turns out, they also share
much of our genetic code and suffer from many of the same kinds of
cancer. That's why the clinicians and scientists of the Animal Cancer
Care and Research (ACCR) program at the University of Minnesota are
joining with dogs in another type of hunt—the search for a cure for
cancer in both dogs and humans.
"Veterinarians have known for years that humans and their dogs have many
types of cancer in common—non-Hodgkin lymphoma, prostate, lung, breast,
and bone cancer, and melanoma, to name a few," Dr. Jaime Modiano
explains. "Yet, it wasn't until the dog genome was decoded in 2005 that
scientists could begin to reap the rewards of studying cancer in both
dogs and humans to their mutual benefit, bolstering the emerging field
of comparative oncology."
Dr. Modiano directs the College of Veterinary Medicine's Animal Cancer
Care and Research program and holds the Alvin S. and June Perlman
Endowed Chair in Animal Oncology. He also is a member of the Masonic
Cancer Center, Univ. of Minnesota, a National Cancer
Institute–designated comprehensive cancer center recognized for its
research, treatment, and education.
Breakthrough research (published in Chromosome Research in February
2008) arising from a highly productive and long-standing collaboration
between Dr. Modiano and Dr. Matthew Breen, professor of genomics at
North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, proved
that cancers in the two species aren't just similar; they are virtually
the same. At the University of Minnesota, research in comparative
oncology bridges the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Masonic
Cancer Center. The research will help advance the understanding of the
biology of cancer and create new therapies to treat cancer in both
humans and dogs. When the feline genome is decoded, cats will aid in the
Bringing dogs into the cancer research mix offers huge benefits, chief
among them speed. Dogs live into old age, but their life spans are
compressed, which allows researchers to see the progress of cancer and
the effects of different types of treatments 7 to 10 times faster than
in humans. That allows rapid completion of clinical trials.
Sharing the Fun — Light
Canine Freestyle, as defined by the
Musical Dog Sport Association
(MDSA), is "a dog sport in which training, teamwork, music, and movement
combine to create an artistic, choreographed performance
highlighting the canine partner in a manner that
celebrates the unique qualities of each individual dog.
It is built upon the foundation of a positive working
relationship between a dog and handler team."
In competition activities,
both the dog and handler are
judged on their performance. A sport that focuses on teamwork, it so strengthens the bond
between you and your furry companion. And, similar to that of the team sport of agility, you
have the ability to encourage your partner to follow along with you. But, it is important to understand that
Canine Freestyle is not 'doggie dancing', a term often used by the media to
describe the phenomenon. Ann Priddy,
MDSA Vice President, speaks to
this very issue.
"I'm not a doggie dancer. I'm not much
of a dancer of any kind. What I do with my dog is canine freestyle. It
is a sport. A sport at which I train and compete and I have a lot of fun
doing so. It is a sport where my motivation is to show the world what a
wonderful DOG I have and the relationship we share. Its up to me to
choose how I want to present the sport to the public. I don't want to do
anything that would place the sport in a position of being ridiculed or
made fun of.
Canine Freestyle is a tangible illustration of the intangible link
between a dog and a handler. It is a link forged through training and
built on trust. Through the medium of movement paired with music,
Freestyle exemplifies the joy, willingness and teamwork that defines the
canine human bond. When these elements come together successfully the
results are magical.
I think each organization has its own take on how freestyle should look.
Some are more into the handler performing dance type moves. That's
great. People can find where they feel comfortable. MDSA is not moving
in that direction. MDSA's emphasis is on the dog. I choose to put the
the dog in the spotlight. She is the one that should be allowed to
shine. Polly will never be an OTCH, she is not some fantastically
trained border collie. I am not Gene Kelly of Eleanor Powell.
I am not
Doris Humphrey or Martha Graham. I am simply someone that has a dear
little dog who gives heart heart and complete trust to me every time we
enter the freestyle ring. I never want to her feel 'cold there in my
shadow'. I respect her for the special being that she is. I don't want
her overshadowed by me or my movements. Its not about me. Its about
celebrating the wonderful bond I have with this special creature that
has been entrusted to me. I want to present that celebration in a way
that is artistic and creative and pleasing to watch. Every choice I
make, from music, to movements, from where in the space I perform
certain moves to what I wear ... all these choices are made with the
goal of showcasing this treasured dog and the special bond and
partnership we share. The joy I have received back from her cannot be
This sport, which has its roots in obedience, does require that your
dogs have a
well-formed obedience background. They need to be able to follow simple commands (sit,
stand, down, come), walk on and off lead, and walk on both your right and your left side.
Your Goldens must also be able to give you their focused attention. This is critical as
you will need to use subtle verbal cues and body language to guide them along. This ties
in nicely with the use of the clicker for training and the use of positive, motivational toys. To get started,
check out the following:
While you may be able to keep a beat, trying to move
along with your dog and have both of you in tempo is not an easy task. This is due to the
simple fact that you are using two legs and your dog four to make up the same distance.
And, it can be a tough task to find that perfect piece of music one that fits your
dog and that he or she likes moving to. We have taken freestyle
classes and witnessed the differences in a dog's movement when various pieces of
music were played.
There are two major styles or schools that provide
competitions for the sport of Canine Freestyle: The
Canine Freestyle Federation (CFF) and the
Freestyle Organization (WCFO). The CFF primarily focuses on the dog and the dog's
movements. The WCFO shows greater focus on handler costuming and movement, and
seeks a variety in movements from the dog. The
newest school to the sport is the
Sport Association, Carolyn Scott one of its original founders.
Sharing the Joy with Others
Freestyle can actually have far-reaching utility. We
have taken Darcy and Alfie 'on the road' to
perform at senior and assisted living homes in Howard County, Maryland. Seniors are
very accommodating and never mind you using food cues while working. In fact,
they love seeing how you actually teach the moves they are seeing.
MDSA's Spirit of Sharing Program recognizes teams using
canine freestyle as part of community service related activities. This includes visits to hospitals
& nursing homes; educational demos at schools, libraries, or preschools;
performances at humane society fund-raisers; and, other such
activities. Enabling folks—from 2 to 92 to
experience the bond between dog & handler and to
feel their joy—is a wonderful way to brighten the lives of
others. To participate in this program, first
become a MDSA member. Then,
download the Spirit of Sharing log sheet, fill in your
visits, and mail the completed sheet to: Jo Monfort, 1170 N Wapak
Rd., Lima, OH 45807. Supervisor ignatures or initials are not
required, although, you may include them if desired. Certificates and
awards are provided for reaching 25, 50, 75 & 100-visit milestones,
your team further recognized for
this selfless contribution via The Spotlight newsletter. For further
information, email Jo Monfort.
Canine Freestyle Can be Enjoyed by All
Debi Davis, who lent her
expertise to our project, challenges us all by
her unwavering spirit in the face of
adversity. Debi has a service dog due to a vascular insufficiency and being a double leg
amputee. Because bending over makes Debi dizzy, her dogs have been trained to do the
physical lower level tasks, such as picking things up when she drops them. In 1999, her
Peek won the Delta Society's Beyond Limits National Service Dog of the Year Award, the
first toy breed dog & click trained dog in history to have won this honor.
We filmed Debi, along with Carolyn &
Rookie, during the P.A.W.S. for Service Dogs' first operant conditioning Service Dog
Seminar specifically for Mobility Assistance Dogs. It was inspiring to see the melding of freestyle and
service dog training, as both share in their application of positive motivational
And, how heartwarming it was to see service dog persons experience the pure joy
that only moving this way with your dog can provide!
In order for Carolyn to have a better
understanding of the particular needs and possible moves for persons dancing from
wheelchairs, she was given a motorized chair to work from.
Once she figured out how to
drive, she experimented with Rookie.
Amazingly, this Golden gem never missed a beat,
easily working along her side, chair and all.
Resources to Get you Started
& Keep you Going!
Freestyle is a sport in which feedback is very important.
Obviously, it is hard to know how you are coming across to the audience . . . . without
one. That is why learning in a class setting is optimal. Hopefully, as interest in the
sport grows, more and more instruction will become available. In the meantime, enjoy
our comprehensive collection of Freestyle resources, fun video
clips, and more!
TaleTell: Your own Stories of Freestylin' Goldens
Meet some wonderful Golden kids.
And, be sure to click here if you
have a Golden Freestyle tale to tell.