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Dancing Puppies

Always start with a stretch

Always stretch first

 

Cricket first came home as an eight week old puppy, in September of 2007. She was adorable and tiny and running in every direction and we took her to puppy class that October, determined to start her off right. She needed socialization, and manners. And we needed some idea of how to make her stop biting us.

Every Monday night, after class, we drove home discouraged, and turned on the TV for some relief. I don’t remember if I’d watched Dancing with the Stars before that season, but it was on after class and it was undemanding, so it became a staple.

I picked up my exhausted, angry puppy, and we learned how to dance. She liked the calm, slow, up and down twirls of the Waltz. I liked the sharp, staccato turns of the Tango, paw in hand. But her best dance was a free form mix of the Latin dances. She loved to shake her tushy. I held her in the air and twisted her to the right and the left, shoulder shimmy right and left. We sang the “I like big butts” song and the “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard” song, though Cricket does not have much of a milkshake.

Cricket demonstrates a dance lift

Cricket demonstrates a dance lift

Each week, we danced with the contestants and tried new rhythms and new lifts, and the dancing bonded us in a way the class, with its forced sits and holding-puppy-on-her-back to get her calm, never could.

I’ve tried to teach Cricket some dance moves she can do on her own. There’s the slow turn on two feet, and the two-steps-forward-two-steps-back, and the sit-down-stand-up-jump combination. All held together with chicken treats. But, honestly, she’d rather be getting scratchies.

Cricket mid-spin

Cricket mid-spin

When Butterfly first came home she wasn’t up to dancing. She’d been living in a crate for her eight years at the puppy mill and needed to start slow. The first step was to get her moving, just walking around the block, using her legs, climbing curbs and steps. She learned about jumping for treats from Cricket, and she taught herself how to twirl, just for fun.

Butterfly learns by watching Cricket

Butterfly learns by watching Cricket

Now that she has all of her dance steps, she prefers to dance on her own instead of with me. She has a very specific, well choreographed poopy dance. First she starts to run, back and forth, back and forth, to warm up. Then she starts to hop and skip in circles, in one direction and then the other. Then there are the spirals. She ends with a few small, hopping circles, lifting her hind end up and bouncing it off the ground.

Then, finally, she stops and poops.

Butterfly mid-dance

Butterfly mid-dance

It’s possible that Butterfly’s puppy mill was near a ballet school. I can’t imagine how she had the room to develop this dance routine living in a crate all day, day after day. She must have been dreaming this dance her whole life.

 

 

 

 

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

69 responses »

  1. Oh how precious to learn of Butterfly’s rescue and subsequent dancing routines. It brought tears to my eyes to think of her in a cage so long. As for Dancing with the stars, that’s a very creative idea and I’m going to try it with my Maltese mix. I think she’ll enjoy it.

    I appreciate your sharing life with puppies! Especially picturesque is the tableau of Butterfly’s poo poo dance. I could just see her. Delightful blog

    Reply
    • Thank you! It’s amazing how much joy Butterfly takes in her dance. And, as a result, how much joy I now seem to take in her poopies, as the climax of the dance. Not humiliating at all.

      Reply
  2. Now THESE are two talented pups!! The Red Man has never been able to master any dance steps except TWIRLS in the midst of barking hysterically…so enjoy your DWTP…:)

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  3. Your dogs were so lucky to find a family in you. Your patience and love paid off. They sound like they have such amazing personalities!

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  4. What a charming story. Your affection for these cute little dogs just shines through your vivid descriptions. Pure fun. Pure joy for both you and the puppies.ecoopergate

    Reply
  5. My parrot, Kismet, loves DWTS. She dances and squawks to the music all by herself.

    Reply
  6. Nice to hear you rescued Butterfly from living in a crate for eight years. It’s unbelievable people treat any kind of animal that way. 😦

    Reply
    • The more I read blogs about rescues the more horrified I feel. I don’t understand any of it. I can’t fathom what Butterfly’s life was like before. The only glimpses I get of it are when she goes off by herself for a few hours; she still has so much on her mind.

      Reply
  7. Great story! Have you tried a video? I can picture Cricket & Butterfly dancing 🙂

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  8. You’ve given peace to an angry little Cricket and fulfilled the dreams of a little imprisoned Butterfly. What a great post!

    Reply
    • I wish I could say that angry Cricket is now peaceful all the time, but she’s not. She is still a work in progress. She had an outburst today and actually bit her Grandma. But then she went outside, after a few hours of being subdued and worried, and danced with the leaves. So, here’s hoping more dancing will help. Either that or we wear work gloves, all day.

      Reply
  9. How fun that you all dance together. Some of our dogs have had their own poopy dances too.

    Cindy

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  10. Sweet thought that Butterfly gets to dance the dance of her dreams. Love it!

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  11. Heehee! That is such an adorable story, and I loved the pics that document it! This reminded me of my dog, Bootsie. I discovered by accident that Bootsie knew how to do “Doggie Calisthenics”. 😉 She would lay on her back and look up at me, and then I would touch her sides lightly and say, “Bootsie, stretchhhh!” Her little back legs would slowly stretch out until they couldn’t stretch any further. She would “hold the stretch” until she heard me say, “Annnnd relaxxxx…” lol. Was so funny! XO

    Reply
  12. Lovely post – Thank you for sharing your wonderful dogs. And just one tip, if you like. My vet recommended we give our Lab and overweight Pug bites of carrots and apples instead of any other treats. They, surprisingly, are chomping them up. Who knew?

    Reply
    • Cricket loves shredded carrots when they fly off the counter (I am a messy carrot peeler). But her favorite vegetable is red bell pepper. And lettuce, as long as it’s crunchy.

      Reply
  13. Loved this. well done………..I can see it all in my head.
    Terry

    Reply
    • Thank you! It’s always such an exciting process to see the pictures turn into words. I’m never sure how it will happen, or if it will happen.

      Reply
      • I share that excitement.
        Last night I had to write a piece on Pet Insurance for a little community newspaper that I contribute to. I was three days past the deadline, deadly tired from working on my son’s house, it was late and it was not a subject that I had chosen (my editor asked me to do it….. what was I going to do, say no?). My good lady was busy editing another piece so I could submit it and I sat next to her and wrote what turned out to be an OK piece. I had very little idea what I was going to write and a vague fear that what I was about to write would be crap. It was all I could think about!
        As I said, it turned out Ok. I was then, and still am amazed by this process we call writing. I never know how it works, I only know that it works often enough to keep on doing it.
        I really did enjoy your ‘dance’ piece. My older dog Honey loves to dance, but mostly as a way to get us to feed her!

        Be well.
        Terry

  14. I so enjoy your blog…and Cricket’s little potty dance cracked me up…we can all relate to that…Thank you again for rescuing these angels!!!! Keep on dancing!!!

    Reply
  15. This is hilarious!! It seriously makes me want a dog! Your little dogs are SO adorable! 🙂

    Reply
    • The dogs make me laugh every day, and I need that. If i didn’t have a dog, I’d be roaming the neighborhood all day looking for dogs to talk to. Not a good look.

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      • Hahaha that’s quite an image!!! Since my husband is allergic to dander, no dogs for us!! I live vicariously through others and visit little doggies whenever I can!! I love your blog! 🙂

  16. I look forward to your new posts every week and I the more I read the more I am falling in love with your two pups. I do have to be careful however, my two are known to be very jealous at times. ; )

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  17. Ahhhhh, because, well, ahhhhh just sums up so nicely how this post made me feel!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  18. Precious post of your dancing girls….you’re so blessed!

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  19. I love the mid butterfly pose, very adorable!

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  20. I love the image of them dancing both in words and pictures.

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  21. That is a wonderful story 🙂

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  22. I love your stories on Cricket and Butterfly. (I just now saw the link between their names, lol!) Both my dogs were rescued; one from a shelter where she was abandoned and one from the streets. I’m curious about Butterfly. She lived 8 years in a crate???? I thought they destroyed the puppies that didn’t get sold? That she got to live that long at a puppy mill is a miracle. I’m so glad she has a home with you now.

    Reply
    • Thank you! Butterfly was a breeding mama at the puppy mill, that’s how she stayed so long. She was incredibly lucky to be rescued when she was, instead of being put down as no longer useful. It gives me the chills. Whenever she hears puppies squeaking on TV, or even human babies crying, she whimpers. She has her own stuffed squeaky duck that she carries around in her mouth and gives tongue baths, the way she must have done with her puppies. She is my own little miracle.

      Reply
  23. Love that you rescued these two darlings! How adorable. Thank you for giving them such a loving home.

    Reply
  24. Thank you for sharing this story. Bless you for saving these sweet babies. Our Miley came from an Amish Puppy mill and she was afraid of many sounds, cars,etc.

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  25. I don’t know why your headline made me think this would be an article about going bra-less, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Thank you for reading my blog!

    Reply
  26. A delightful post-I think the best I could do with my dogs might be free-style dancing where they basically do what they want. I have one who twirls a lot especially before meal time and another that hops-Jack Henry is a bit more dignified and does nothing. There is clearly much joy in your household!

    Reply
    • I know a miniature poodle who is also very dignified. He would never twirl or hop. But he’ll watch my girls run in circles and run after him and jump and dance in happiness to see him. He takes it in stride, because, of course, it is understandable that they would be so happy to see him.

      Reply
  27. What a wonderful story. It’s good to know there are happy endings for some of those poor animals out there.

    Reply
    • I’ve been hearing so many good rescue stories since I’ve been reading the dog blogs that I’m in danger of thinking everyone is on board. And then I hear a random comment and I realize how many people don’t see the point, or don’t care, or have a very different world view. I’d love it if we could have happy endings for everyone, human and puppy alike.

      Reply
  28. Wonderful words and adorable pictures. What more could one want? 🙂

    Reply

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