Dogs to leap, dance and fly into city Saturday
The Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St., was barking up the right tree when they booked Chris Perondi’s “Stunt Dog Experience,” which will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The cast of performers and dogs in “Stunt Dog Experience” will delight audiences of all ages, with high-energy excitement from beginning to end, as these rescue dogs-turned-highly trained performers dance, jump and soar through the air.
The performance features more than 50 awe-inspiring stunts and tricks performed by a dozen dogs rescued from shelters from around the country.
Stunt Dog Productions is led by executive producer Chris the “Stunt Dog Guy” Perondi. Perondi created his first stunt dog show in 1999, and since has produced more than 5,000 shows in the U.S. and Canada.
The company’s mission is to promote pet adoption, spay and neutering, and encourage people to spend more time with their pets, according to Perondi.
Perondi, 37, adopted eight of the dogs in “Stunt Dog Experience” from shelters and rescue programs. With training and a lot of love, he has them doing back flips, catching frisbees, pulling off comic tricks and playing with the audience.
Perondi’s journey started when he adopted Pepper, a border collie-Queensland mix, in 1996.
“I just wanted a pet and a best friend,” said Perondi, who was a computer network specialist at the time. “After work, he wanted to play Frisbee, and the next thing I knew he was catching it. He was a natural and he could play nonstop. I looked online to see what else I could teach him, and that’s how I got hooked and he got hooked, too.”
Perondi discovered the world of dog competitions and Pepper started winning them. Perondi gives Pepper credit for that, as well. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “I felt he was training me, showing me how to do stuff.”
In 1999, Perondi started adopting more dogs and earned spots for them on “Late Show with David Letterman,” “The Tonight Show” and eventually, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Ellen,” Nickelodeon and Animal Planet. A particular thrill for Perondi, a native of Stockton, Calif., was when Pepper became the official canine mascot for the San Francisco 49ers.
Pepper was featured in a half-page spread in Sports Illustrated and did his tricks on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” when the 49ers played the Green Bay Packers in the rain (Perondi proudly reports that a commentator remarked that Pepper was the only one catching anything on the field that day).
In 2000, as demand grew, Perondi quit his computer job, sold his house, bought an RV and went on the road with his canine crew. (He now lives in another house he bought three years ago – “the dogs work hard; they deserve it,” he said.) Pepper retired years ago, but remained Perondi’s first and best buddy until his passing.
Most important to him is the message the show sends, encouraging people to adopt dogs and to spend time with them.
“There are so many great dogs out there,” he said. “Just walk into that shelter and give them a chance. One of them might talk to your heart.”
Tickets for “Stunt Dog Experience” are still available at the Community Arts Center’s box office, by phone at 326-24242or online anytime at www.caclive.com. All student tickets are just $5 throughout the theater, with adult tickets starting at $5 thanks in part to our show sponsor Susquehanna Bank.