troop of dogs will present a comedy show | Local news

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Comedy showman Johnny Peers and his pack of stage dogs, the Muttville Comix, are scheduled to take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Dunn Center at NC Wesleyan College.

Peers, a former circus clown and a graduate of Ringling Brothers Clown College, will guide 14 dogs through a program designed to make people laugh.

“People tell me watching the show made them happy,” Peers said, “and they can tell dogs love to do it.”

Appearing with Peers will be Noodles the Basset, PeeWee and Geo, who are mixtures of Chihuahua, and Fox Terriers Frankie and Lucy. Ollie, Mike and Girl are poodles or mixtures of poodles. Tina, Izzy, Julie, Junior and Sandy are Jack Russell terriers or terrier mixes. Lady’s ancestry, said Peers, is a mystery.

Peers grew up in New Orleans, working with his father to sell toy, souvenir, and food concessions at Mardi Gras, festivals, and circuses. He joined Ringling Brothers in Venice, Florida at age 17 to do the same until he was introduced by a friend’s clown grandfather to apply to the Clown School, which Peers took. completed at the start of six weeks.

Peers was with the Ringling Brothers show for three years, then jumped into other circuses and shows in the United States and South America.

Peers said his current calling came about by accident in the mid-1970s. He began working with Freckles, a beagle he adopted from a shelter in New York City.

“A lot of it was just playing (with Freckles),” Peers said. “Dogs are so smart, and I started to see what they could do.”

The peers focused on comedy, “making them do things for a laugh”.

By the late 1980s, Peers had a small troop of four to six dogs, which he would take to perform on the Shriners circuit, schools, and theme parks. He was approached by Ringling Brothers to join his tour. Peers and his dogs shared their act there from the early to mid-1990s, including his biggest venue, Madison Square Garden, where he and the dogs entertained a crowd of 15,000.

Eventually, Peers and his dogs would appear in the David Letterman show and perform in the White House.

Peers currently lives in Florida with her dogs, including two senior dogs who are no longer performing, and two young dogs who are in training. The age of the dogs when they start, Peers said, depends on the dog.

“At around 7 months old, they can start to learn a few things,” said Peers, adding that the dogs train daily to stay in shape. The peers said the routines come from years of experience and new ideas arise during practice.

“You have to do what is adaptable for the dog,” he said.

He said he can try a new trick with a dog, and if the dog has trouble doing it, he will try it with another dog who can do it right away.

“They sit and watch,” Peers said of his dogs, who line up on a long bench and stay, waiting their turn to be called. “If that doesn’t work with one dog, another will want to try it, just by looking. They also like Milk Bones.

When asked which tricks are easier and which are harder for dogs, Peers said the easiest are when one dog pushes another into a car or rolls up in a blanket. All of the exercises involving hoops and back and forth between her legs, Peers said, are also easy. More difficult, he says, is to jump rope or walk on the front or back legs.

“They love to do it,” Peers said of the toughest exercises, “but not all dogs can. Different body types are suited for different tricks.

Peers travels the road with his dogs and occasionally with his assistant, Becky, in a large camper van and van.

“It’s a very physical life,” said Peers, who looks younger than his 69 years old. “Travel, install, dismantle. It’s not very glamorous, ”he added, who also said that it was not easy to get all the dogs to sleep at the same time so that he could sleep.

Peers have said that one of the reasons he does his shows is to bring happiness to people.

“There are so many negative things out there,” he said.

Peers said if he and his dogs can tell the difference for a little while, he feels good.

“I have kids who write me fan letters,” he said with a smile. “I was born to do this. I am not a dog trainer. Dogs do what they do because they like it.

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