By Pat Maurer
Zeeva, a ten pound bi-eyed Blue Merle Pomeranian and a master at canine freestyle dog dancing, performs all over the area and competes in canine dance shows at least twice a year across the State.
She is one of six dogs [and two house rabbits] owned by Michele Franklin, owner of Michele’s Dog Training in Farwell. Michele lives with husband Eric and her family of dogs: Moo a five-year-old 130-pound Rottweiler; Spirit who is a six-year-old rescue Border Collie; Diamond, a ten-year-old four pound Papillion; Sahara, a three-pound three-year-old Pomeranian; two-year-old Zeeva and her newest addition to the family Sydrah, a one-year-old four-pound Blue Merle Party Pomeranian.
“I have all sizes at home,” Michele laughed. “All of them are trained in basic commands.”
She said she started her business because, “I wanted to do something area people can afford.”
Michele, who moved to the Farwell area from Holly five years ago, has been training dogs for over ten years and makes house calls to train dogs, does canine good citizen testing, pet sitting and dog walking, all for dogs of all breeds from puppies to adults. “I offer a special discount to people who have adopted or rescued a dog,” she said. “I want to keep them from ever having to go back to a shelter.”
She also trains dogs during the summer months at local parks and is qualified to test for the Canine Good Citizen through the American Kennel Club.
She trained her own first “dancing dog” Star through a 4-H program when she was only 14. Star was four times the Junior National Champion through the World Canine Freestyle Organization [a world-wide organization]. “My mother got me started,” she said. “She encouraged me to start in the sport. She said I loved dancing so much and loved my dog so much I should put the two together.”
She went on, “Growing up I was a little shy. It (working with Star) helped me with that a lot. As long as I had my poodle Star with me I felt I could do anything.”
Next Michele said she had a border collie who also won several titles. Then she took several years off – until Zeeva came into her life. ).”Zeeva was my fifth dog. I found her on a website. When I got her [Zeeva was flown in from Kansas], I knew she would be a dance dog,” Michele said.
She is very good at her job. Zeeva, who she rescued at six months old, now knows 45 commands and demonstrates her “dancing abilities” on a regular basis. Michele and Zeeva also do shows and video competitions. They will compete next week in Davisburg for Zeeva’s W-FDM. Three qualifying scores at three shows are needed to get a title. In June, the pair will have a demonstration at Camp Fish Tales in Pinconning for special needs youngsters.
Training is ongoing for Michele and Zeeva. They work on it five days a week and Zeeva regularly learns new commands. “We are working on a couple of new moves right now,” Michele said.
Zeeva has a World Freestyle Dog title and a W-FDX Free Style Dog Excellent title through the World Canine Freestyle Organization (WCFO). She has qualified at every single show and has the two titles plus the Canine Good Citizen through the American Kennel Club. “She was named Best in Show at the Farwell Pet Parade last year when she participated.
Michele said Zeeva is a very unique Pomeranian and is called bi-eyed because of the blue patch in each eye.
The two delight audiences with their elaborate performances. After each demonstration, Zeeva “greets” the audience. “They love that,” said Michele.
Michele and Zeeva performs regularly for several retirement communities including the Brook in Gladwin, the LifeHouse Prestige Place in Clare and the Laurels in Mt. Pleasant. They also do 4-H demonstrations; perform for school groups, local craft shows and benefits. “We do one to two demonstrations each month,” Michele said. “We have even done a demonstration in New York.”
All of her demonstrations are free. She only charges travel expenses for demonstrations out of the area.
The website for the WCFO is www.worldcaninefreestyle.org. You can reach Michele’s Dog Training at 989-588-7047 or email her at Trainingm@yahoo.com.