The first time I tried yoga was back in 1995. I popped in a VHS tape, hit “play” and five minutes later my little dog was right underneath me, challenging me as I held the downward dog position. Minutes later, she was circling my arms during the triangle pose. Since this so-called relaxing, stress-relieving activity turned out to be anything but, I decided to go back to my more active stress reliever — running. As it turns out, had I engaged my dog during my yoga practice, I would have been involved in an activity called “Doga.”
Practicing yoga with your dog has become a new craze. Yoga studios from Seattle to New York City are offering classes in Doga. Classes range from basic Doga to Doga plus—senior dog meditation, complete with dog treats after class. Denise Kaufman, a prominent yoga teacher in Los Angeles, commented, “Animals move; people can learn about movement from animals. House pets stretch all day long, creating space in their joints. Animals sit in different kinds of positions. Perhaps as humans we need to reclaim our four-leggedness. Sitting in chairs tightens the hamstrings and the lower back. Animals don’t sit on furniture; they have not built things contrary to their nature.” From her perspective, yoga involves recapturing our animal physicality.
Many Doga instructors say this practice soothes both person and pooch. Suzi Teitelman, a Florida-based instructor who has been teaching Doga since 2002, said, “When you feel good, they feel good. They want to be around your goodness.” Teitelman has trained more than 100 people around the world in Doga, some from as far away as China and Japan. During Doga, Teitelman teaches traditional poses such as warrior, triangle, and backbends, with dogs balanced at the belly or waist. The dog can take the person deeper into a stretch. Teitelman believes this interaction with your dog strengthens the human-animal bond. Some veterinarians have witnessed the demeanor of dogs change during Doga classes. One veterinarian observed a class where seven to eight dogs came in barking and by the end they were sleeping.
Aside from Doga classes at yoga studios, there are Doga DVDs, YouTube videos, online instruction videos and even ways to get certified as a Doga instructor via Skype. Doga has also inspired clothing lines, books, and a plethora of pet accessories. There are squeaky “Mendhi Balls” decorated with lotuses and leaves in the style of henna tattoo art, while “Shanti Sticks” are inscribed with the mantra “om shanti shanti.” There’s also the “Om Ball,” which plays a recording of the mantra “om” when bounced on the floor.
Though Doga appears to be getting more popular, many dog owners don’t seem to have enough hours in the day practice Doga. Kendra Butler, vice president of marketing and communications for a high-end skin care line in New York City, is not your average dog owner. She lives in Connecticut, yet drives her German shepherd to a doggy daycare every day before heading to work and even manages to run with him several days a week after work. Butler said that she wishes she had time for Doga: “I can barely manage to get to my three Pilates classes each week, who has time for Doga?”
If you’re like most dog owners and can’t seem to find the time to make it to a yoga studio with your dog to practice Doga, there is a book for you. New York yoga instructor Jennifer Brilliant is coauthor of Doga: Yoga for Dogs. She said that her book offers step-by-step instructions to make Doga accessible to the beginner as well as inspiring those who have been practicing for years. I’m wondering if Coga isn’t too far behind. Though I’m not volunteering to try that with my cats—at least not without claw-proof yoga pants.
Free Cat Adoptions
From August 20-21, all ASAP cats and kittens will be offered FREE to qualified adopters! Each feline that comes into ASAP is given a full medical evaluation before being placed up for adoption. Included in the evaluation is spay or neuter surgery, flea treatment, vaccinations, de-worming, testing for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, and a full blood panel evaluation for cats over age 10. If you are thinking of adopting a cat or kitten, stop by the facility at 5473 Overpass Road, off Patterson Road. For more information and to see some of their adoptable cats, visit ASAP on the Web at asapcats.org/adoptions/.
K-9 Pals Benefit
The owners of locally owned Antique Center Mall and Sotheby’s International Realty are having a fundraiser on Sunday, August 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for K-9 PALS to help care for the homeless and abandoned dogs of the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelters. Visit the Antique Center Mall any time during the event and browse their wares, visit with adoptable dogs, participate in their prize drawings (valued at $1,000), and enjoy sandwiches by Valentino’s Pizza. Antique Center Mall will donate 20 percent of all purchases to K-9 PALS to raise money for veterinary care and assistance for the homeless dogs at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter. The Antique Center Mall is located at 4434 Hollister Road in Santa Barbara.
CARE4PAWS’ Wags ‘n’ Whiskers Festival
On Sunday August 28, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., CARE4Paws will host its third annual Wags n’ Whiskers Festival at Girsh Park in Goleta. Santa Barbara County’s largest adoption festival features adoptable dogs, cats, and bunnies from 20-plus animal shelters, rescues, and animal welfare groups. The festival also showcases a range of local pet service providers, including Lemos, Dioji K9 Resort, OffLeash, Your Pals Pet Hospital, and HydroPaws. Sponsors include CARE Hospital, Montecito Bank & Trust, Chrissie’s Fund, Valley Pets, Who’s Walking Who Pet Sitting & Dog Waking Services, and Monarch Pet Spas. Festival-goers enjoy a mix of activities, such as agility shows by Goleta Valley Dog Club, Flyball with the Supersonic, police and search-dog performances, and great pet contests. They also learn about the latest in animal wellness from area veterinarians. CARE4Paws’s fun and educational Pawsitive Thinking Kids Corner invites children and parents to discover how to care for all living beings. Dogs can get styled by experts from Paul Mitchell and Petco’s Grooming Salon. Plus, visitors can raffle for many great prizes.
Last year’s event featured as many as 30 vendors and pet service providers and drew more than 1,000 visitors. It inspired forever homes for as many as 35 cats and dogs.
The organizer, CARE4Paws (Community Awareness, Responsibility, Education), is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that promotes responsible pet ownership and animal welfare through early education and bilingual/bicultural community outreach, affordable spays and neuters, dog training intervention workshops, pit bull education and countywide adoption events—like Wags n’ Whiskers. What makes Wags n’ Whiskers unique is that it sheds light on the impressive work of the county’s animal shelters and rescues and lets the public meet a large number of adoptable pets outside the typical shelter environment. This year, CARE4Paws aims to significantly increase the number of adoptions, visitors and vendors and make it an even more successful gathering for our community’s animal lovers. For more information, visit www.care4paws.org.
Adoptable Pet of the Week