In a Freudian sense, domestication is a pretty steep trade-off: For human beings (we call our domestication "civilization"), we get the benefits of safety, security and society, the comfortable pleasure of staking out some degree of order in an otherwise chaotic, dangerous world -- the price, of course, is our freedom, or what Freud called our "id," that wild, primal part of us that begs to rape and pillage. The conflict that our competing desires for the security of society and the freedom of the wild creates, then, is what makes us all so fucking crazy.
In dogs, the trade-off is more or less the same (admit it, dude, your dog is neurotic). So it stands to reason that, if we're going to impose our own neuroses on our pets, they should at least get to have the same fun we have. You know, like Pilates and discos and whatnot.
That's been pretty much a tall order for most of modern history -- until now. At the Zoom Room in Longmont, which opened in May, your dogs are invited to hang out with you while you do fun human stuff, so you don't have to decide whether to go out or chill with your dog. The idea, says owner Marnie Johnson, is that "We teach owners how to train their own dogs."
It's based on a template created Dog Whisperer-type Jaime Van Wye in Culver City, CA, back in 2007; since then, it's spread to several cities around the country in franchise form. What attracted Johnson to the concept, she says, is its the flexibility: "I was looking for something in the dog community that I could do that wouldn't be 24 hours a day, seven days a week, such as a boarding Kennel. I found this after doing some research, and I went out to Culver City to meet them and we just had a great rapport."
No doubt, too, the, uh, uniqueness of the concept proved somewhat attractive. Basically, the Zoom Room provides people a venue to do stuff with their dogs -- work out with their dogs, socialize with their dogs, play with their dogs. And while the place does offer your traditional obedience-type classes and so forth, some of the other activities the Zoom Room offers are a tad unusual. Such as, you know, the dog Pilates, cleverly known as "puplates."
"Honestly, that's one we haven't started offering yet, but we're about to soon. My experience with it is limited right now to a demonstration I saw in Culver City," Johnson admits. So... what's the deal with it, though? "Well, it's a lot like Pilates, except it incorporates you and your dog in a modified Pilates workout: You bring your yoga mat to class -- your dog is on a leash -- and you do some yoga moves, the stretching and strength training, incorporating your dog into some of these maneuvers. It's easier with some dogs than others -- lifting up a terrier with your feet is a lot easier than lifting up, say, a doberman."
So maybe you want to stay away from that one with particularly hyperactive dogs. Luckily, you'll have yet more options, such as the Doggie Disco.
"We do have a disco ball and a light show that moves to the beat of whatever music we're playing," says Johnson, noting that "a lot of dogs will chase the lights, so that gives them something to do. Definitely one of the things we promote is having a dog birthday party, but I say, just have a party. Invite your friends to bring their dogs. It's like your own nightclub where your dogs can come."
They may not have have the slightest clue what's going on, but what the hell, why not? After all, says Johnson, "It's a hoot and a half."
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Or should we say... a bark and a half? Sorry.