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Dogs and yoga students find common interest in rescue fundraiser

There’s a position in yoga called “downward facing dog.”

This past weekend participants at a yoga class in Columbia found themselves taking that literally — staring into the face, or at times the tongue, of a four-legged companion.

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Black Flag Brewing Co. on Snowden River Parkway hosted a session of Doggy Noses & Yoga Poses, a yoga event that helped raise money for Operation Paws For Homes, a nonprofit animal rescue.

During the one-hour mixed level yoga class, adoptable dogs padded their way across the floor, off leash, to socialize with those taking the class.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Debra Furstenberg, founder and organizer of Doggy Noses & Yoga Poses.

Some dogs might find a new owner, but that’s not always the point, Furstenberg said. Sometimes the events will motivate people to volunteer, become regular donors or simply advocate for local rescue operations.

“Even if they don’t adopt, it opens people’s minds and [brings] awareness,” she said.

“We’ve had classes where people meet pit bulls, and after being licked for an hour they say they’ve changed their minds about that breed,” Furstenberg said. “Or they might see a special needs dog, and say ‘I never would have considered adopting a handicapped dog,’ but they absolutely fall in love.”

Doggy Noses & Yoga Poses started in New Jersey, and has expanded to also include events in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and Florida.

On Sunday, Feb. 17, another Doggy Noses & Yoga Poses event will be held noon to 1 p.m. at Shape Your Body Fitness in Severn; and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at UP Yoga and Wellness in Silver Spring. For details go to doggynosesandyogaposes.com. Those taking part in the class pay a fee, with a portion of proceeds going to an animal rescue.

“It’s a very fulfilling class,” said Furstenberg. “The participants, the venue operators, the instructors — everyone walks out feeling good about it.”

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