The dancing dog show fills the Performing Arts Center every year.
The six small dogs were yapping and jumping, excited to have a visitor approach the gate. Their owner gave the command, “Just Max,” and, when the gate was opened, only Max came through.
This polite behavior is explained by the fact that their owner, Joan Eddy, of Ormond Beach, believes in training and spending time with her dogs.
These days, Max is getting a lot of attention as he practices with Eddy for the Dancing Dogs Spring Show at the Performing Arts Center. It’s put on by the members of the Obedience Club, who formed a group called the Canine Fancy Dancers. They perform annually at the Performing Arts Center and throughout the year at nursing homes, assisted living centers, etc.
Eddy said her other dogs, all rescues, don’t seem to be jealous about Max being a star and always being called out for rehearsals.
“They know they’re going to get a treat when we get back,” she said.
Eddy said she used to have Max in the agility classes at the club, where the dogs run an obstacle course, but retired him when he got too old. The dancing is now an enjoyable pastime for both of them.
“I’m 81 and he’s 12,” she said. “What else can we do?”
The theme of their show this year is a topic dear to every dog’s heart: “Suppertime.” Based on the ritual of Snoopy and Charlie Brown, the dance starts with Max lamenting his starvation and after a cute routine with several tricky dance moves, it ends with Max getting a meal from Eddy, who is dressed as a chef.
Asked how she comes up the ideas for the routines, Eddy said, “You stress.”
Even though it’s a challenge, she enjoys the process.
“I like being with the people,” she said. “And you’re closer to your dog when you work together. You’re a team.”
Eddy made a dog house out of card board boxes, used an apron she had for years and found a “Snoopy” dog dish at a thrift store. Her daughter suggested the music
“It all came together,” she said.
There’s no stress about delivering a perfect performance, however.
“Whatever the dogs do the people love it,” she said. “If the dogs make a mistake, they love it even more. It’s that kind of show.”
She said if a mistake is made, it’s the owner’s fault, because the dog wants to please the owner but can’t read their mind.
Marc Schwartz, supervisor at the PAC, said the auditorium is filled every year for the free show.
“It’s a family-friendly show and lots of fun,” he said.
The club takes donations at the show which are used to fund the performance at the PAC. Any leftover money is given to “dog-related causes,” Eddy said.
Not all of Eddy’s dogs have an aptitude for dancing.
“Max is good at anything,” she said. “He’s very relaxed and just seemed to take to it. He gets very excited about going. He’s always wagging his tail during a performance.”
The Canine Fancy Dancers were started by club member Linda Stites 11 years ago.
“It just kind of mushroomed,” Stites said.
She said a small group began teaching their dogs to dance and decided to put on a show for club members. She would entertain at nursing homes with her three poodles.
They later decided to put on a show for the public. They started in a park, then performed at a school and now for about six years have performed annually at the PAC.
She was helped by the World Canine Freestyle Organization, which promotes dancing with dogs.
“The whole process is fun,” she said. “You’re bonding with your dog.”