When dog sports people tell you they’ve been involved in a sport for 15 years or more, chances are good that they’ve competed- or at least trained- more than one dog in the sport. Carrol Haines and I became friends in 2006 when her partner was a miniature poodle. That may surprise some because although Carrol doesn’t share her performances on Facebook very often, seeing her and her Australian Shepherd Carlee dance even once sticks with you.
Their engrossing performances helped earn Carrol the 2021 Storyteller’s Award honoring Michele Pouliot and the coveted Trifecta Title held by only 5 other RFE teams. But it’s Carrol’s breadth of experience that make her such an asset to RFE as a judge. Read on to learn more about Carrol. And, if you haven’t seen Carrol and Carlee perform before, you’re in for a treat!
Meet Judge Carrol Haines
“I took a freestyle class from Julie in 2006 where I did a not very good, but loads of fun team routine; a terrible singles routine and . . . the rest is history.”
– Carrol Haines, Trifecta Title holder, 2021 Storyteller Award winner,
Rally-FrEe and Musical Freestyle Judge
A common thread amongst RFE judges is that they want others to have the chance to benefit from Freestyle and Rally-FrEe the same way they did. Carrol puts it this way, “I’ve had many opportunities to compete in MF and RF and that’s because of a few dedicated individuals who judged us. Judging seemed like a great way to give back to the sport and give others the opportunity to compete. No judges, no competitions!”
When you’ve experienced the positive difference training dogs for Rally-FrEe and freestyle can make in a shy or challenging pup’s everyday life, you want that for others. “Katie Mae, my terrier mix, needed a job. I got started in agility and discovered I/she needed obedience to have success. Then I met Julie Flanery at the Mixed Breed Dog Club of Oregon in 2006, attended her freestyle workshop, and took a class. We did a “not very good, but loads of fun” team routine, did a terrible singles routine, became friends with Julie and the rest is history,” Carrol chuckles.
She says although she enjoys music, she has no dance experience. “But I love the combination of moving with and training a dog to music that is Musical Freestyle,” says Carrol. “I never thought I’d dress in costume, but lo and behold I struggled my way to a Freestyle Championship with that very vocal, whirling dervish of a dog!”
Tobi and Carrol in Corvalis in 2014
Carrol started Rally-FrEe after several years of competing in Musical Freestyle. It seemed a great sport for my shy little miniature poodle, Tobi, who earned the very first RF Championship before there was a Grand Champion Title, and, eventually his Grand Champion Title.
Today Carrol competes with two very different partners. “Carlee, my Australian Shepherd, is, without a doubt, the best freestyle partner I’ve had to date. At 7 years old she holds a big-ass Trifecta ribbon which reflects Grand Championships in Musical Freestyle (MF), InSync (InS) and Rally-FrEe (RF),” Carrol says proudly. “She has 3 perfect RF scores to her credit AND she holds Elite Grand Champion Titles in MF, InS and RF, which would be a second Trifecta if it existed!” Carrol says there’s just no stopping Carlee. “I can’t keep up with the routines that need to be choreographed for her. Nor do I, today, possess the physical ability to do the challenging moves that would challenge her, but I try my best. It’s been one of life’s biggest pleasures to be her partner in all this!”
“I love seeing all different interpretations of behaviors in freestyle routines and how the different routines are choreographed,” says Carrol. “I enjoy getting to see routines from different cities, states, and countries and how each location influences the elements brought into those routines.” But the things she looks for when scoring are a strong bond with handler and a dog that shows the willingness to work together. “I love to see precision and a flowing routine,” she goes on. “That shows me the team has invested time in the routine and partnership to make it a great performance for people to see.”
Carrol judges both RF and MF in live and video competitions. “While I get to be more relaxed in my home office judging video events,” she says, “I love the excitement and camaraderie that live events offer.” When she’s not judging Musical Freestyle or Rally-FrEe, Carrol enjoys reading, walking Carlee and Dani, gardening when weather permits, doing jigsaw puzzles, and practicing the piano, which she’s learning to play.