Will Work for Dogs

By Dave Deluca


Julie Flanery with KashiJulie Flanery runs Wonder Dogs training in Philomath and Corvallis. She and her talented staff teach a variety of classes from agility and rally to scent games. They also teach musical freestyle, which I would call doggie dancing. 

“People who do musical freestyle don’t call it dog dancing,” Flanery pointed out.

You be the judge.

Accompanied by music, a handler and their dog move around a 40-foot by 60-foot open space in a choreographed routine for a judge.

The handler is in costume. The animal is allowed to have a fancy collar. The dog performs complex obedience moves like weaving between the handler’s legs, spinning, backing up, and even climbing up the handler’s back. Each behavior is prompted by a verbal cue, but no treats or rewards are allowed in the ring. Anywhere from 60 to 80 behaviors are demonstrated in a two- to three-minute routine.

The most common example of the sport is called singles competition. This features one handler and one dog. However, musical freestyle is also performed in pairs (two dogs and two handlers) and teams (three or more of each). There is also something called brace, which features one handler and two dogs.

Any breed can be successful at musical freestyle, although the size of the animal does necessitate minor modifications. Flanery competes with a Tibetan terrier. Kashi will be four in August, and clearly loves every moment of both practice and performance. These partners are members of the Corvallis-based musical freestyle club Dogs Gone Dancin’. About 65 people (and their canine partners) are proud that their club is the largest of its kind in the country.

Flanery is also proud to be part of a community rich in positive reinforcement-based dog trainers. Most musical freestyle handlers use clicker training with their furry dance partners.  Those dogs, like Kashi, are undoubtedly happy with their work and their handlers. The feeling is usually mutual.

“She makes me laugh every day,” Flanery said of her diminutive dancer.

For more information on all of Wonder Dogs training programs, go to www.wonderdogsonline.com. To see Julie in costume, go to www.dogsgonedancin.com.


Marilyn Cherry has always had a knack for sketching. She also loves dogs. It makes perfect sense that she combines the two.

Cherry has been drawing almost all of her life. At first there were a handful of cat and horse portraits, but dogs quickly became her favorite subjects. For years the works were given as gifts to friends and family.

With a little help from classes at LBCC, Cherry has expanded her artistic repertoire to include pencil, pen, and oils, and is currently experimenting with an art drawing app on her tablet.

She prefers canine subjects to human ones. While the latter are much better at sitting still, there’s little chance of offending a dog. Cherry does most of her work by looking at photos. Meeting the dog in person also helps her capture its personality.

“The important thing is to capture the essence of an animal… because you want the dog’s owner to feel like ‘That’s my dog.'”

Cherry has painted or drawn a variety of breeds ranging from golden retrievers to vizslas. Her favorite breed is the Australian shepherd. Her favorite model is her six-year-old Aussie, Kiira.

The two compete in agility competitions regularly. As a result, Cherry spends plenty of time around fellow dog-lovers. Dog-lovers tend to love portraits of their animals. Luckily, Cherry is always ready with a pen or a brush.

If you’re interested in having your favorite furry friend immortalized on canvas or paper, email Marilyn at kamikaussie@yahoo.com.


Heidi Sterling, in-home pet sitterHeidi Sterling makes her living as an in-home pet sitter. She’s been building up her business since 2004 to a staggering 200 current clients. Luckily, a few of those critters are only semi-regulars.

Most of Sterling’s clients are in Corvallis, but she is expanding into Albany and has traveled as far north as Monmouth.

Pet sitting is a seven-day-a-week job, and no two days are alike. Sometimes dog-walking and cat-petting can take as long as 14 hours. The busiest times are summer and around major holidays. Vacations for pet sitters are few and far between. Despite having little spare time, Sterling says that running her own business gives her a certain freedom not found in a traditional 9 to 5 job.

The name of her business is Kitty Meow Meow, but Sterling is much more than a cat sitter.

“Over the years, I have taken care of some unusual pets, including a tarantula, snakes, water turtles, and geckos.”

What’s the best part of the job?

“What I enjoy most about pet sitting is getting to know and love all kinds of animals, and becoming an integral part of their lives.”

For rates, availability, and cute pictures, go to www.kittymeowmeow.com.