Canadian service dogs attend theatre performance in training


Canadian service dogs got a cultural experience in a viral photo taken during a theatre performance last week.

Canadian service dogs became part of a viral photo spreading around the internet while on the job in training recently.

According to CBC Radio, they were attending the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, about two hours west of Toronto.

The Stratford Festival was originated as Canada’s premiere Shakespearean festival, though over the years it has evolved to primarily feature a variety of contemporary stage productions.

“It’s important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend,” Laura Mackenzie told CBC Radio. Mackenzie is the owner/head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, based in Meaford, about two hours north of Stratford.

Training at the theatre gives the dogs exposure to varying lighting conditions and sudden noises, and helps teach patience in waiting for a long time in tight quarters.

The performance was one of the special showings with a more relaxed atmosphere with softer lighting and gentler sounds, better suited for those attendees with autism or for young children. This seems like an amazing idea, and more stage and movie theaters ought to consider offering it.

“About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved,” Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager told CBC Radio. “They took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theatre.”

“It’s wonderful that going to the theatre is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for,” Swerdfager continued, adding that it would be considered an entertainment option that was out of reach by many, which isn’t true, of course.

Mackenzie stated that the service dogs were all very well behaved and seemed to enjoy the performance, and that she plans to bring another group in the future.

Next: See how Dogs of Twitter celebrated Canada Day

They were watching Billy Elliot, an adaptation of a 2000 British movie with songs written by Elton John.

Other performances at the Stratford Festival this year, which runs until November 10, include Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello and one of his obscure comedies, The Merry Wives of Winsdor, along with Arthur Miller’s The Crucible., set in Puritan New England during the Salem Witch Trials.

If you’re reading this in Southern Nevada, you can still catch Sir Winston Da Doodle on stage as Sandy in Annie this weekend, August 23-25.

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