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    In Doga Class, Dogs, Owners Connect on the Mat
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    I lay down on my back on my yoga mat and my dog Penny flopped down next to me for a belly rub. My neighbor’s dog chose to crawl on top of her for kisses. I’m not sure what else was going on around the room, but I heard rustling and giggling.

    We were beginning our Doga class at Competitive Edge Agility & Dog Sports. When I roll out my dog-chewed yoga mat at regular (human only) yoga classes, I’m a little embarrassed. I figured it was exactly right for this Doga class, where supplies to bring include dog treats and a leash. And we quickly learned from instructor Elizabeth Comp that we didn’t need to stress about doing anything “right” or “wrong;” we’d just allow the dogs to let us know what they were comfortable with in each moment. Great advice from Comp: “Always trust your dog.”

    Louisville’s first Doga class came together after Competitive Edge’s owner, Terry Vanhook, told Comp about an article she’d read some eight years ago. She’d always thought the concept was fascinating, and she and Comp thought the newly opened Competitive Edge facility was ready to offer the class. Comp began researching, getting input from her own yoga instructors and mentorship from Suzi Teitelman, the creator of Doga.

    The purpose of Doga, says Comp, is simple. “We want to help people build a bond with their dogs. It teaches people to be kinder and more compassionate.”

    We moved slowly through a series of simple yoga poses and stretches. In some, our dogs would position themselves under our outstretched hands for a pat. In others, they would lie down next to us. At times, they would just sit and watch. Partner Yoga with a dog is a very organic experience.

    Comp incorporates massage into her Doga class, as well, drawing on her background as a licensed massage therapist. When we each massaged our dogs, most of us skipped a body part, a paw here, an ear there, trusting our dogs to let us know what made them feel uncomfortable instead of more relaxed and connected. Both Comp and Vanhook say they have been surprised at how relaxed the dogs in the class have remained. For the most part, the treats standing at the ready have not been needed to keep the dogs’ attention; they love the one-on-one interaction with their humans, especially the dogs who don’t come from one-dog homes. Comp’s partner for this class, Lacey the Chihuahua, is one of 12 dogs at Comp’s house, and was basking in the extra attention.

    Anyone can do Doga, says Comp. You don’t need any experience or yoga background. Just “be mindful of your body and your dog. Yoga, and Doga, are about a mind-body connection.”

    The Doga class is offered on Saturday mornings at Competitive Edge’s facility at 4600 Shepherdsville Road. Call 502-599-7450 for more information.

    Photo: Courtesy Competitive Edge Agility & Dog Sports

    Kachina Shaw's picture

    About Kachina Shaw

    A transplanted Hawkeye, I've now lived in Louisville longer than any other city. Can't live without: my husband and fur babies, coal-black coffee, peanut M&Ms, sunflowers, monthly vacations, books, walking paths, massage and a big purse.

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