Here it is the second interview of TO THE TOP. Interview with the the amazing Kristine.She’s the one that give value to what she do and value those who are next to her . She’s always willing to learn and she will never stop to impress. A person who we will hear a lot about her in very fast time.
Enjoy this wonderful and very tough interview
First of all. A little presentation for the readers
My name is Kristine Goossens and I’m a 23 years old student from Belgium. I’ve studied Languages and Literature (Bachelor French-Italian and Master French) at University and got my teaching degree. Now I’m studying Animal Care (Agro- & Biotechnology) out of interest. At home we have (had) all kinds of animals like fish, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, a cat and of course dogs. In 2001 our family bought a Maltese. Meanwhile we also have several Havanese and I’ve bought an English Cocker Spaniel. Since March 2004, we practise Canine Freestyle (dog dance). Being surrounded by our dogs is very important for me. I can’t imagine a life without them. We spend all our free time to the dogs. All our dogs live in the house and get a lot of attention. They always want to be near us. Right now, sitting behind the computer, I have two of our young Havanese sleeping on my lap.
Practicing dog dance with small dogs is a lot more difficult than with large dogs.
What is your point of view ?
I think that every dog is unique and if you and your dog, whatever breed he is, have a strong bond and connect well, you can achieve a lot, but there are breed-related differences in my opinion. It’s up to the handler to take into account the characteristics of your dog when you try to teach him something and just have as much as fun possible.
First of all, there is a difference in temperament. Herding dogs are real working dogs with a natural will-to-please. It doesn’t mean that everyone could easily handle such a dog, but it can be a real benefit. When we started practising Canine Freestyle our Maltese Tosca was three years old. She learned lots of tricks and it was very cute to see her ‘working’, but she was not really a big fan. During competitions she was very slow and she could hesitate before doing an exercise. She could be a bit stubborn. Our next dogs are all Havanese. It’s a small breed comparable to the Maltese (they both belong to the Bichon family) but they can have all colours (except Merle) and can be a little bit taller. In our experience, our Havanese have a bigger will-to-please than our Maltese. They love to work with us. They have more patience and they are curious to learn. But every dog has its own temperament. Some are very active and others can be a bit slower. There is also a big difference in training at home and participating to a competition or a demonstration. All our dogs work fantastic at home, but isn’t that the case for all dogs? It’s their own well-known secure environment. Our ‘biggest problem’ is that we don’t know how they will react in a new environment (like on a competition). Some get very quickly distracted, some are timid and a bit scared, others are just happy and active and don’t care about what else is going on. It’s a pity that with some of our Havanese that are very talented in our opinion we can’t show what they really can on competitions. And of course, dogs are no robots. They can have a bad day too! As long as we all have fun, we continue practising dog dance with them.
Second, Havanese are real lap dogs. They like attention and working with them (practising tricks) is a way of giving them attention, so they love it. But they also like the fact that they are rewarded with their food. In our experience it’s not possible to reward them with toys for example. We notice that this is different with other breeds. So, it’s more difficult to work without food with these lap dogs, compared to other breeds. Just holding a piece of food can make a big difference. You don’t need to give them food all the time. But during competitions it’s not possible to hold a piece of food. So, they have to learn that they will be rewarded after the routine.
Third, some breeds are known for being very smart and to learn fast. Havanese can learn a lot, but it takes more time. You need a lot of patience and time. If I compare the learning process of our Havanese to my young English Cocker Spaniel Nikita, I notice some differences. Rolling over for example. In two days, my Cocker could roll over (in both sides!) with a single hand gesture. The young Havanese are still struggling with this exercise. It will take more time. But once they figured out a trick, they are amazing. That’s why we are so proud of them.
And of course, some exercises are just easier to do with large breeds than with small breeds. Heeling is more difficult for a Havanese than for a large breed. With small dogs, you tend to bow a lot more because the dog is closer to the ground. Working on a (large) distance is also difficult for our Havanese. On the other hand, there are some nice tricks we can do with our dogs like walking around our shoulders.
I believe there is a difference in working with these small dogs and other (larger) breeds. Havanese sleep a lot during the day, but they also have a lot of attention and like to work with us. For us, it’s just a challenge to teach them all kinds of tricks. It makes us happy when we succeed in teaching them something new and to see that they enjoy it as well.
Which other sports you practice with your dogs ?
Apart from Canine Freestyle (dog dance) I practise Agility since September 2008. I train with three of our Havanese at the moment. I would like to do Agility with my English Cocker Nikita in future. Canicross is a sport that interests me as well. Since a few weeks I started “running” with my English Cocker together with a friend who practises canicross. She’s still young and has to learn to run on the leash in front of me, but so far we’re both enjoying this sport a lot .
With several of our Havanese (and my English Cocker) we’ve attended (basic) obedience classes. We also love to walk with our dogs.
You and your dogs won the Canine Drumming Challenge of Silvia Trkman from LoLaBuLand.
Means that what you is appreciated by a lot of people. How do you feel?
Silvia Trkman from Slovenia challenged people to teach their dog to drum and to make a video of their drumming dog. The goal was to post it and to collect votes. The winners got a training DVD of Silvia. When I read about this challenge, all kinds of ideas immediately came up in my head (even though I was right in the middle of an exam period :p) and I told my mother Linda about it (she also practises Canine Freestyle). We had already learned some of our Havanese to make drum rolls, but it had been a while since we practised them. So, we started training them again and after a few days we made some video shots of our Havanese drumming and doing other cute tricks. I made a video of it and put music of Safri Duo (the Bongo Song – Played a live) on the background. We are very proud of the result. I’ve also added some extra tricks since we had more funny material. Then we posted the video on Youtube, Facebook and our website. We’ve collected 590 votes by June 5. That was a lot more than we could ever have expected! It was amazing! The nicest part were actually the very kind reactions we’ve got from people all over the world, from friends, but also from people we don’t know at all. We appreciate that very much! People in Canada and the US for example were posting and sharing the video spontaneously. Silvia also gave us very nice compliments which means a lot to us. But also via Facebook we had very nice reactions. The fact that so many complete strangers gave a very positive feedback is wonderful. When people tell us that they were smiling and laughing when they saw the video, that makes us happy too. We are just very happy with and proud of this video because all our Havanese (including our puppies that were 5 months at that time) participate in it. We’ve made this video in first place for ourselves, but getting so many nice reactions and winning the drumming challenge was a fantastic surplus!
Where do you find the inspiration for a new routine?
Most of the time it starts with music I like. I love making routines on film music because it’s very often beautiful music. There is also a story behind that you can try to express in a routine. This way I’ve made a routine on Pirates on the Caribbean and on 10.000 BC with our Havanese Vita. With Dalia I’ve ‘danced’ on Requiem for a dream (theme song of one of the Lord of the ring films). With Tosca, Dolce and Vita I’ve made a routine on Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? My current routine with Dalia is on Happy Feet in which I combine dog dance and tap dance (Irish dance heavy shoe). Sometimes I choose a recent song of the hit lists that I hear on the radio and that I like a lot and which gives me inspiration. This way I’ve chosen Shut Up & Drive and Disturbia (Rihanna), Right Round (Flo Rida), Poker Face (Lady GaGa, routine of my mother), When I Grow Up (The Pussycat Dolls), Wild Dances (Ruslana), etc. Other routines are made on songs from the past that I really like. Examples are The Voice (Eimear Quinn), Watermark (Enya, routine of my mother), L’ombelico del mondo (Jovanotti), etc. We’ve also made some routines in which we work with more dogs at the same time like on The Bongo Song (Safri Duo), Amazing Grace (dedicated to my father who passed away), Morning-Mood, etc.
I write down the exercises I would like to use in the routine. I listen and analyse the song (chorus, bridges, music, repetitions, fast and slow parts, etc.). I write down the different parts of the song and at which second it starts. I listen several times again to the song and fit in the tricks. It’s like a puzzle. I try to do the routine first without the dog, then with the dog and make some changes for example when I notice that I need more or less time for a certain exercise. When the routine is finished it’s a matter of training on the newest exercises and trying to make everything go smoothly. You also need to find appropriate clothing (only for the handler!) and sometimes attributes to work with. Attributes are for example a sword, a suitcase, a drum, an umbrella, etc.
So, it’s actually the music that inspires me. I can hear a song and think about which exercises would fit in. Some songs give me no inspiration, others a lot. Some routines were made in 10 minutes, others made me brainstorm for a few days. Over the past 7 years me and my mother have worked on 34 routines with our Havanese (and Maltese).
Yes, I remember my first routine very vividly. I wanted to combine my two passions: dogs and horses. I’ve chosen the music of the film Black Beauty and made a routine with our Maltese Tosca. She had to jump over two obstacles, make an eight around horse riding boots and jump over a horsewhip… I was dressed like a horse rider. The first performance was during a club competition (not for real points). I was very nervous. Tosca was very cute. Our first Havanese, Dolce, ‘danced’ with my mother Linda on Watermark (Enya). She was only 5 months old and got the price for most promising dog.
At the beginning you had any mentors or now you have a mentor ?
We learned the basic of dog dance in a canine club. We’re still part of the group (The Wet Nose Dancers) and we’ve given very nice demonstrations over the past few years. Nowadays we know how to teach those exercises and we are training all our dogs at home. We go outdoors to train in a different environment. Canine Freestyle is a family occasion with us. Both my mother, my sister Laura and I started doing dog dance in 2004. Me and my mother still practise this sport.
How do you train and how much?
We only use very positive training methods. It’s all about pure joy and fun for the dogs. The dogs are rewarded with their food. They ‘work’ for their daily portion of food. That may sound weird, but it works very well. We don’t need to give them extras. We only use extras (something very special) outdoors. When we work on a new trick, we use the clicker. When they know the trick, we use our voice and a piece of food to reward them. When they’ve done several exercises one after another, we often give them a ‘jackpot’ (a hand full of food) to reward them. We also use a target stick to teach certain exercises.
In the morning we play with the dogs. They run after all kinds of toys (most have a favourite toy) and retrieve them. Afterwards my mother trains with each dog individually: some basic obedience exercises and some old and new tricks. In the evening I do the same thing. So, each dog is trained individually. Since we have more than 10 dogs, it takes some time, but it’s relaxing as well. The advantage of small dogs is that you can easily train them indoors. We train in the living room on the carpet. Sometimes we also train in the garden, but most of the time it’s indoors. We should train more on new locations, but that’s not so easy.
Your favorite part of the day?
Cuddling and working with the dogs! Each morning the dogs will give you a big welcome. They like to cuddle. Playing with them in the morning and working with them in the evening is very nice of course. I also like to walk with them, especially at the beach. Unfortunately the sea is not close by. It’s 1,5h driving.
Your plans for the future?
Last year our Havanese Havana had a litter. We’re training our youngest Havanese and my English Cocker Spaniel now. We’re teaching them some basic obedience exercises and some dog dance tricks. It’s just for fun. They like the attention. We’ll see if they like to ‘dance’. We never oblige a dog to do anything they don’t like. It would be nice if I could do Canine Freestyle with my English Cocker. It’s a different breed than I’m used to work with.
So, for the future, it’s just training the dogs, maybe doing agility and dog dance with them, brainstorming about new routines and studying more about animals.
I wish you much fun with your dogs and that you will achieve your dreams.
Thank you very much!! )
If you have something to add do it now or never
I would like to say something about this sport in general. In fact, dog dance can be separated into two disciplines: HTM (Heelwork to Music) and Canine Freestyle. HTM means that the dog must stay the largest part of the routine close to the handler. In Freestyle that’s not the case.
Most of the time I say ‘Canine Freestyle’. First of all because we practise Freestyle and second because people often have a wrong idea about what ‘dog dance’ actually is. Dog dance or dog dancing or doggy dance or dancing with dogs makes people who don’t know this canine sport think that it means that a handler takes a dog into his arms and dances on music or that the dog must stand on his hind legs the whole time and dance with a handler. That’s completely not true! Dog dance is born out of obedience. It’s actually obedience on music, but with a large variety of tricks to show. The fact that you can combine music and obedience makes it so much fun I think. You can be very creative and invent routines.
I would like to add that doing sports with dogs is just fantastic. Dogs are wonderful pets. Doing activities with them strengthens the bond a lot. Learning them all kinds of tricks also improves their thinking skills. I wish everyone a lot of fun with their dog(s)!
some videos of Kristine Goossens:
Canine Freestyle performance of Kristine Goossens with Havanese Massivus Angel’s Dalia Hanna “Dalia” (3 years and 5 months) on the theme song of the film HAPPY FEET (Gia Farrell – Hit me up) during the competition on 23/04/2011 in Balen (Belgium).
The routine is a combination of Dog Dance and Irish Dance (heavy shoe) with an American touch.
Intermediate class 3rd place!
Canine Freestyle performance of Kristine Goossens with Havanese Massivus Angel’s Dalia Hanna “Dalia” (2 years and 6 months) on the song “Requiem For A Dream” of Clint Mansell (theme song of The Lord Of The Rings The Two Towers) during the competition on 09/05/2010 in Waver (Belgium).
Novice class 1st PLACE !!!