“Flying” Dogs Entertain Traverse City Audience

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The East Bay Calvary Church in Traverse City was the site of the Extreme Canines Stunt Dog Show on Saturday, February 7th. The event had so much interest that they ended up having two shows that day. I was lucky enough to get a reserved front row seat to see all the action (thanks Pastor Dallas Dix) but I do apologize in advance for the blurry photos. I either need a faster camera, a better camera operator or slower dogs!

Doc Holiday spins on Abby Cline's back

Doc Holiday spins on Abby Cline’s back

Toby is set to do a very high jump at the show

Toby is set to do a very high jump at the show

crowd shot

Many talented canines were on hand spinning, jumping and “flying” across the stage while doing tricks, dancing, catching frisbees and doing agility. Team Director and Stunt Dog Performer/Trainer Abby Cline and Performer/Trainer Melissa LaMere brought eight dogs to the show and it included the dogs participating in contests to see who could jump the highest (over 52″ at this show!) and be the fastest in what they do. There was even some jump roping! The Golden Bowl Showdown contest had a “red” team and a “blue” team and the audience was divided up into cheering sections for the dogs. Every dog and member of the audience was a winner with everyone so involved in the show.

The Extreme Canines Stunt Dog Show also included an appearance by two of the Grand Traverse K9 dogs, Jax with his handler Deputy Matt Jerome and Janke with handler Pegan-Naylor. Jax did a meet-and-greet with adults and kids out in the lobby and Janke went on stage to look for “improvised explosives” (the safe kind) hidden under boxes. They had a child from the audience move the boxes around so that Janke couldn’t cheat and he was able to find what he was looking for each time.

Grand Traverse K9 Jax with handler, Deputy Matt Jerome

Grand Traverse K9 Jax with handler, Deputy Matt Jerome

Grand Traverse K9 Janke searching for "explosives" on the stage of the church

Grand Traverse K9 Janke searching for “explosives” on the stage of the church

The audience was filled with many kids and three of them even got to play the role of a “dog” and crouch down on the floor while a stunt dog jumped over them. When asked what their favorite kind of dog was, all three kids said their dog was their favorite dog.

Rosie getting ready to jump over three kids

Rosie getting ready to jump over three kids

There were two moving videos during the show – one called “So God Made a Dog” showing the bond between dogs and people. The other video talked about the importance of adopting a dog from an animal rescue group or animal shelter. Most of the dogs used for the Extreme Canines Stunt Dog Show were homeless dogs who were saved from rescues or shelters and then trained to be stunt dogs. Part of the proceeds from the shows goes to their mission of helping to save homeless dogs.

Doc Hollywood waits for a frisbee

Doc Hollywood waits for a frisbee

Rosie and Abby Cline perform

Rosie and Abby Cline perform

The stars of the Traverse City show included:

Bullet, a Border Collie mix from a rescue group

• Zinc, an Australian Shepherd mix from a rescue group

• Torque, a Chocolate Lab from a rescue group

Toby, an Australian Cattle Dog mix from Border Collie Rescue of Minnesota

Rosie, a Corgi Mix from the Animal Humane Association of Star Valley

Super Freak, a Border Collie from Long Island, New York

Doc Holiday, an Australian Cattle Dog from Border Collie Rescue of Minnesota

Petey, an Australian Cattle Dog mix from the Sioux Falls South Dakota Humane Society

Rosie showing off by balancing on Abby Cline's feet

Rosie showing off by balancing on Abby Cline’s feet

Doc Holiday poses with some kids after the show

Doc Holiday poses with some kids after the show

There are about 17 dogs that travel with their owners/trainers to perform in these shows and many of them are Australian Cattle Dogs and Border Collies. Cline says that they look for working dogs as they are highly motivated to do the kind of stunts in the show. They are more easily trained because they want to work and are driven by their love of toys and treats. The trainers in the show find dogs in shelters on Petfinder and are also contacted by shelters, rescue groups and dog people who know what kind of dogs they are looking for. When the trainers visit a dog in a shelter, they look for one who is focused more on a toy than the person. Some of their dogs have been trained since being a puppy but many are about one or two years old. It takes about a year or two of training before a dog is ready to be in a show and they are also socialized as much as possible so that they are comfortable performing in front of large crowds and are comfortable interacting with children. Their training is continuous even when they are at home on “break” with their owner/trainer.

Cline said that each stunt has its own challenges but they train “to the dog”. They train to the dog’s strengths and what that particular dog is good at and enjoys doing. You mean not all dogs like to balance upside down on someone’s hand?

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One thought on ““Flying” Dogs Entertain Traverse City Audience

  1. Laura March 11, 2015 at 8:11 am Reply

    I am so bummed I missed this! I hope the show returns to the area!

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