The Princess Theatre will go to the dogs, literally, as Michelle Harrell, Gail Mirabella and their troupe of performing pets come to the downtown Decatur performing arts center on Saturday.
During Cirque du Canines, dogs named Emilio, Apollo, Tallulah Jane, Sevyn, Topper, Tripper, K8, Teaser, Joker, Karma Roxanne and Glamour will jump through hoops, catch flying discs and perform magic tricks.
“Cirque du Canines is a magical journey into the dog world, discovering the uniqueness and skills of different dog breeds and their personalities,” said former Decatur native Harrell, who is nicknamed “Poodle Mama.”
The Decatur show will feature four toy poodles belonging to Harrell and rat terriers, border collies, a mini Australian shepherd, a border collie-rat terrier mix and a standard poodle belonging to Mirabella.
Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for students and are available at princesstheatre.org. The show will begin at 7 p.m.
Q-and-A with Michelle Harrell
Where does your love for dogs come from? My mother took in every stray that came up to our house. I can't remember a time without a dog. I always say I inherited the dog gene from her.
How did your company, SkyBound Canine Entertainment, form? After realizing the demand for performing dog shows, I formed SkyBound Canine Entertainment to book various styles. I am actually a self-trained trainer. Luckily, it just came natural to me and I've been able to figure a lot out on my own. Gail is the real trainer and has a much more traditional format.
How long does it take to teach new dogs the routine? Each dog is so different. It really depends on their personality. My youngest is 2 and at 6 months she was following her big sister around and just tagged along during practice and I quickly had a trick dog. That’s a bit rare though. It takes a lot of patience, a lot of love and some good treats.
How much time do you spend practicing? I like to freshen up the dogs right before a performance. We spend a few days a week doing very short practice times. I like to keep it short so that they don't get bored or impatient. It's important that it's always fun for them, that way, they don't lose interest and stay happy
What do you look for in a show dog? I love all dogs, but poodles are the breed I most gravitate to. I was extremely fortunate to have an incredible rescue poodle as my first. His name was Cupid and he started me on this incredible journey. The rest of my dogs have come from a wonderful poodle expert, Rose Thompson, in North Carolina. I have six dogs from her over the last 18 years. She has always known what I'm looking for. My last, Sevyn, was a gift from her.
What is your goal with the shows? It is our hope that we connect people with their dogs. We hope to inspire them to have more fun, engage with them, get involved and create the best, happiest home that they can for them.