- Title: JAPAN: Japanese learn to rumba, polka and samba with their pooches in Tokyo
- Date: 19th July 2008
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) MAYUMI AZUMA, 51 YEAR-OLD INSTRUCTOR AT THE DANCE CENTER, SAYING: "Dog dancing allows pet-owners and their dogs to show their individuality. Whether it's a Chihuahua or a big St. Bernard, if you have the right music and moves, any dog can dance. Even age doesn't matter."
- Embargoed: 3rd August 2008 13:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Environment / Natural World,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA1WOZAVT5NI69X5CDEW3JDTX6P
- Story Text: Japanese learn to waltz with retrievers, polka with poodles and rumba with dachshunds at the latest dog dance classes offered in Tokyo.
It's not dirty dancing, but doggy dancing for the Japanese pooch lovers who get together and say, "Shall we dance?" to their spoiled canines.
In Japan, where dog hotels, cafes, and even canine-friendly cars are the norm, dancing lessons for pets seems like a natural progression in the lucrative pet industry.
At Tokyo's "Wan-Nyan World Tama", which means "Bow-Meow World" in Japanese, classrooms are filled with aspiring pooch dancers and its owners.
Dog-lovers and their reluctant pets try to do a little waltz, a little polka and even some fox trot.
"Dog dancing allows pet-owners and their dogs to show their individuality," 51-year-old Mayumi Ozuma, who teaches the class, told Reuters.
"Whether it's a Chihuahua or a big St. Bernard, if you have the right music and moves, any dog can dance. Even age doesn't matter," she said.
That's good news for a country with an ageing population like Japan, where the declining birthrate means there are more dogs and cats nationwide than children under the age of 15.
No wonder dog dancing is so popular.
"I felt like having a walk with my dog wasn't enough, but with dancing, my dog and I can really enjoy each other. So I decided to join,"
said 51-year-old participant Mikako Oba.
Oba, holding her 1-year-old Corgi called Carlo, says she aspires to enter competitions in the future with her pet.
Miyuki Takahashi, a 45-year-old participant, was excited that her 2-year-old poodle will now give her eye contact.
"He used to ignore me when I called his name, but now he looks at me immediately and comes near me," Takahashi told Reuters.
Others still new to the pooch dance lessons admit they must work harder.
"Dogs tend to learn faster than their owners, while the owners get out of breath real easily," said 37-year-old businessman Seiji Osawa while still sweating slightly from the dance routines. "Dancing is supposed to be fun for both so I'm hoping to get used to the routines soon," he added.
And it's no joke. Pet-owners go to dance class twice a month and some even take their pooches on stage to showcase their skills.
But for others, more practice is needed to get the two-step with their four-legged friend just right.
One thing's for sure - the country's gone to the dogs.
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