5-Level Descent Into Madness Of Competitive Dog Dancing
We love to make animals do stupid shit that they probably hate doing. It's kind of our thing as humans. We get enjoyment out of it. We post it on social media. We spend time and money perfecting ways to make them look and behave more like us. At its core, it's cute and probably sometimes rewarding for the pets in terms of treats and some stomach rubs.
Beneath the core, like, down in the center of the earth where the dinosaurs are fighting aliens and all the cool shit science doesn't tell you about is happening, is where you find dog dancing. Otherwise known as heelwork to music. If you take a right at the bubbling volcano that's shooting out semi-sized spiders and just beyond the elevator that comes straight down from the White House, you'll find these routines from the prestigious Crufts dog show. And you'll wonder why the hell we get the urge to do this to these poor animals in the first place ...
A Dog Whistle that Summons … Evanescence?
We, and the competition itself, start with a banger. Going into this, I had no idea what to expect. The second I saw this duo walkout, I was certain that a dog was about to be publically tormented to an Evanescence song.
The first thing you'll notice about these shows is that every competitor gets an entrance like they're a WWE tag team. What they're wearing tells you everything you need to know about what you're about to see. What you maybe aren't ready for is the song choice here. These two come out with their big dog balls swinging to Evanescence's "Bring Me to Life." You know the one. It's the song that instantly started playing when anyone signed a gym membership from '02-to-'08. Legend has it, if you put your ear to the ground in one of the country's many now-abandoned malls, you can faintly hear that track pulsing around you. These two crank it up and get to business.
This routine begins with the dog appearing to be trying to get its owner's attention in a Lassie-like attempt to inform her that Evanescence is playing and that they are in grave danger. But she doesn't listen.
Finally, the poor dog runs off and looks like it's about to break free when the Nu-Metal Witch pulls it right back in. Take special note of the dog's eyes at the end here. This is the look that you'll see most of these dogs carry throughout this contest. Crazed and anxious. They know that there is a treat for them at the end of this if they don't screw up, but they also have absolutely no idea what's going on. It's the dog version of acing the group presentation you did zero prep for. Where you hit that unconscious zone where, despite the fact that you haven't read a single page of The Pearl, you black out and emerge having detailed every last metaphor, impressed the teacher, and passed the assignment. Here, you just get a goddamn Milkbone or whatever.
The routine is winding down, so they start throwing out all the tricks. I'm not going to sit here and say that it isn't impressive the way these people have trained their dogs like this. Mine still eats his own shit. I get it. But it never stops being one of those things you can't really separate yourself from when you're watching it. You will take your base-knowledge of what you know seems to make dogs happy and be natural for them, and you will think back to how many times your dog has scratched at the door to signal their primal desire to crank early-2000s rock and jump on top of a LARPer.
These two close out their routine with a gentle embrace. The owner, breathing a sigh of relief that her dog didn't go and embarrass the shit out of her. The dog, wondering where it all went so wrong down the line and that if her wolf ancestors were running between the legs of cavewomen to butt rock being played on Wolly Mammoth bones.
Beast and the Human Beast
Rolling along, we get into our second routine and, while it tones down the crazy in terms of song selection, it picks up more than enough slack in batshit with the theme.
One thing you might start to notice about these is that these folks have ... unique ... relationships with their dogs. For this rendition, our competitor and treat-slave have decided to cosplay as Beauty and the Beast for their routine. Imagine this poor dog's heart when she reaches into the closet for the Belle dress. Sitting there, praying that it will be the leash. The frisbee. But nope, asshole, you're dancing to Disney again.
The routine begins with some pretty classic dog shit, which is refreshing here. It's kind of just rolling around and hoping for some attention. Bothering you when you're trying to read. The normal. But this dog should have never bothered asking what she was up to, because it's about to get bound, blindfolded, chucked into a van, and taken into a hostage situation where they just toss you into a dance class with zero training and won't let you eat until you can do the Charleston to their liking.
Now it's on. Look at that silly dog. Out there, acting like a human. Kind of. Kind of looking like a human. If we really squint. And suspend disbelief. And come to the Crufts dog dancing show absolutely loaded off of our asses with really no clue what's happening. Then, for sure, this dog is definitely being a cute little human-dog here.
I will say that this dog appears to at least be having more fun than the friend who got dragged to the Evanescence concert. It does an excellent job of delivering the roses. Mostly because in the ten years of this dog's life that it had to train for this, that basket of roses was a shitload of nachos one time, and it has never forgotten. Hoping to find the nacho basket just one more time before it kicks the bucket and mercifully gets off the heelwork circuit.
For the finale, the human has changed into her formal attire, and the dog has stayed as a dog. But it's now doing some pretty impressive coordinated jumping with a little extra pep in its step because it surely knows that in just a few seconds, it can return to being a dog until they get home, and it has to start learning how to play the male lead in the other six thousand Disney movies still left to emulate.
The Fox and the Hound (That Wants to Be at Home)
Up next, we have a dog and a human just kind of hanging out. Doing normal things, some scratches, pets, and treats, but not really asking a lot of each other besides that. Just kidding:
This costume was either bought or made, and we can't decide which is worse.
We are all the dog in this moment. Watching this, wondering if we can just, maybe, leave? Without anyone noticing. It's attempting an Irish Setter Goodbye here without knowing that the entire party is watching it edge towards the door. Too drunk to realize that you're not being as sneaky as you think you are and that you have somehow gotten the bowl of bean dip and the bowl of nacho cheese on your feet as shoes as your slink towards the door. You're going nowhere, dog. It's dancing time.
Just like that, they've pulled you back in. Your drunk ass is on the dance floor again, just stomping molten hot nacho cheese all over the place.
Let's all enjoy this cute moment. Where the owner has died alone at home, and the dog is performing CPR, only this idiot dog didn't get the memo and was doing it the wrong way. Just a dog and its dead owner delighting the audience with their cute little number.
Someone hit the rewind button on this dog escaping. This one is actually pretty impressive, though. Again, my dog still shits and immediately eats it like Bobby Flay was inside his stomach, sending out a hot gourmet burger just for him. This is an adult dog. So I don't want to take away anything from these performers. I just also want to physically take away the furry performers and bring them literally anywhere else in the world.
The Witch and Toto
Need a breather after that last one? Nope, there is still more dog dancin' to do.
It's great when you realize that most of these people probably had to practice these routines in public. Nobody has all this space at home. They had to grab their dog, their witch outfit, their portable speakers, and hit the damn park.
Just give the dog the damn toy. It can keep dancing, but maybe let it have the toy in its mouth during the rest of the routine. It has come halfway across the world to break its usual routine of at most licking a few assholes for the day to dance in front of thousands; the least you could do is let it get a few squeaks on that thing.
The dog finally gets to play some fetch; it just also had to undergo a literal black magic spell before it was allowed to do so. Screw it, though. We'll take it at this point. I wonder how long this training actually takes and what else we could teach these dogs in that amount of time? Surely if they can "dance" around to Disney music, we could at least get them on some minor household chores in half the time. I'd be far happier dedicating two years to getting my dog to load the dishwasher than putting in four so that he can run in circles between my legs to the Aladdin soundtrack.
Oh shit. The dog clearly messed up here. It was not supposed to fumble the toys like that. Idiot dog. Not even able to put on a stage show of their owner's favorite movie from childhood that they still haven't outgrown, so much so that they devote a dog's entire life to letting it consume them just as much and take it on a world tour for everyone to see. I say that as someone who has poured the last 15 years into a routine with my cat where we do a shot-for-shot remake of Point Break that you guys are not going to believe.
Okay, have to admit, this is pretty cool. You have successfully turned your dog into a witch's apprentice and even fulfilled my hopes of getting it to do some minor chores. Would love to send my dog to the kitchen to stir the chili so I can keep relaxing. But my dog would just eat the chili, immediately shit out the chili, eat the shit chili, then repeat this until it exploded.
The Mary Poppins Remake Nobody Asked For
Just in this one competition, there were almost too many routines to choose from. So many that we're on to the second part of the YouTube video to find the final contender. This lady stepped up as something of a crowd favorite. There were rumors of her routine, it had caused quite a stir leading up to the event, and she came to bring the heat.
They've won every contest that they have entered and just have that air about them. They play for keeps. It's like the dog only eats when it brings home a trophy, and this woman will only rest when every dog dancing trophy is in their cabinet.
Even their prop is on another level. These two come out on fire. True dance partners. Of course, when we are talking about what it takes to make a real dance troupe here, we are talking about one person who is all in and another that is literally equating every new step they learn with eating something tasty. A setup that would get me into dance class right now. For every nice twirl I do of my partner, I better get a mozzarella stick thrown directly at my face.
None of these would be complete without the through-the-legs move. Maybe in the way that every dancer now has to do that weird outward forearm fist bump into the air to show that they're hip, this move must feature at least once per session.
This is just two performers at the top of their game. Human and dog perfectly in-sync doing something that there is absolutely no reason to be doing at all. But goddammit, they are doing this worthless shit better than anybody out there can do worthless shit. Did anybody ever request dog dancing? Hell no. These folks just showed up and changed the world. The world being a small convention center somewhere in Europe where people are probably just trying to get warm for a few hours.
The crowd explodes. The world rumbles. Everywhere the implications of this dog dancing routine are felt, and life as we know it will never be the same. Now, for the love of God, can that dog just have a fucking treat and a nap already?
Top image: Crufts