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Dog Yoga Is a Dream Exercise Class for Animal Lovers

Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses

I was taking a couple of breaths in downward dog when I looked to my right and saw a Great Dane doing a downward dog. No, I wasn't dreaming, but I was in a dreamy state because I was doing yoga with dogs.

No kidding.

The class I was taking is called Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses, and it's the brainchild of dog-lover Debra Furstenberg of Morganville, New Jersey. I wasn't at this yoga class with my own pups, Oscar and Sadie. Rather, the dogs that were milling about were all up for adoption.

Downward dog with dogs

Of course, doing yoga is good for the body, mind and soul, but doing yoga to raise money for rescues and get dogs adopted is even better.

Furstenberg partners with local rescues to bring in adoptable puppies and adult dogs during a yoga class filled with dog lovers like myself.

The idea for Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses came from Furstenberg's daughter Morgan, now 15, and her need last year to create a community service project to earn her black belt in karate. Last August it all came together.

On National Dog Day (a wonderful coincidence), August 26, 2017, about three-dozen dog lovers (myself included) gathered at the Beach Haus Brewery, a dog-friendly venue in Belmar, New Jersey. We were there to do yoga, but also to hang out with the dogs. Tickets cost $35; it was a fundraiser for a local rescue called Husky House, which adopts out all breeds. The event sold out.

doggy noses and yoga poses downward dog

At the end of class, everyone asked Furstenberg, who owns a dog treat company called Mojo's Morsels, when she would be holding the next Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses class. "Originally, this was supposed to be a one-time community service project for Morgan and a fundraiser for Husky House," says Furstenberg, "but so many people were asking for another class, I said to Morgan, 'I guess we'll do another one.'" The next class was in September at a firehouse in nearby Matawan, New Jersey, also benefitting Husky House.

And then things exploded from there.

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Raising money for animal rescues

Since that first class in August, Furstenberg, Morgan and Furstenberg's other daughter Jordan have brought Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses to dozen of locations and not just in New Jersey. They've partnered with rescues (and held classes) in Delaware, Maryland and Washington, DC. Later in February they're bringing the class to a hip Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood. That class is sold out, with more than 75 people on the wait list, according to the event page on the Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses Facebook.

In 2017 there were 12 such classes; 10 sold out. Already in 2018 they've held or have scheduled 15 classes, and, as of this writing, 11 are sold out.

Later this year they're heading to Florida, and Furstenberg hopes to make it to California by the end of 2018. That's how much word has spread about her dog yoga classes.

Furstenberg calls her daughters official puppy "ploppers" because their job during class is to help corral the dogs and, if necessary, clean up when a pup has an accident. It has happened, including on the instructor's mat at recent class in Asbury Park, New Jersey. "Thankfully, her reaction was to laugh hysterically," she recalls.

Classes range in size from 20 to 60 people, depending on the space Furstenberg rents for the event. So far breweries have been a popular choice. Perhaps its because with some classes, you get a free pint of beer (after class, of course) with your admission ticket.

crow with puppy yoga poses and doggy noses

"We have had a great turnout, with people walking out, raving about the class and how much they enjoyed it," says Furstenberg. She adds that people are surprised that they end up doing a "real" yoga class during the hour-long event. (Furstenberg hires certified yoga instructors to lead the class.) More importantly, she is raising money for rescues—donations after expenses end up being between $300 and $500—and getting dogs adopted.

Encouraging dog adoption

She's also changing minds about certain breeds and dogs with special needs.

"One class was all pit bulls," she says, "and people's reaction was, 'Wow, these dogs are so sweet and friendly.' In another class we had a special needs Chihuahua, and a woman called her boyfriend so he could come meet the dog, because she wanted to adopt it."

It's no surprise that the tables have turned with rescues—in a good way. "We are now starting to get rescues reaching out to us first, asking if we can come do a class," she says. The same is happening with venues that want to host a Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses event.

"Who wouldn't want to cuddle with dogs while they're working out?" Furstenberg says. "You're having a great time, you're doing something good for yourself, and you're doing something good for the dogs, too."

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