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Lee Marelli
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Have I been missing something? Why aren't more dogs used by magicians? I would think that they are certainly trainable. Most people love and/or enjoy them. Anyone have good reasons why we do not see more dogs.
"Mentalism is a state of mind." Marelli
Tom Cutts
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Barking.
Lee Marelli
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True, however, ducks quack, parrots squawk, lions and tigers roar, etc. It seems to me it is where and how you would use them. Did you know there is a mind-reading act using a dog? Anyone else out there that does a magic effect using a dog?
"Mentalism is a state of mind." Marelli
Alan Munro
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I know that the Pendragons used their Samoyeds in their show.

The Madsen brothers have "Andre", a white poodle who appeared on many TV shows. See the Success Book, Vol. 1 from Magic, Inc. for more info. Smile
Lee Marelli
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Thanks Alan. Good information. I knew that someone had to use them. Any of you members using them? In what type of effects? Or, any ideas on how to use them?
"Mentalism is a state of mind." Marelli
Peter Loughran
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Copperfield used 3 huge sheepdogs that he produced as his suprise climax to his "Big Black Box" illusion. I have also seen magicians substitute dogs in the 'girl to lion cage' illusion.

P.
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Magicduck
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I am sorry to say that she is now too old to perform, but for nearly ten years I used Natasha, my Samoyed. I did three effects with her over the years.

1. A very funny doggie sword thru neck while she had on a blindfold. Huge hit with adult audiences.

2. For kids she became the "Houdini Canine." Essentially it was the grandmothers necklace rope escape with kids holding the ropes.

3. For a short time I did a card effect with her, more closeup. I would force a card and I had her trained so, when she heard me say the name of that card as I named them off, she would bark.

The key is training. She had been very well-trained and thru the intensive training I did with this dog I even became involved in police dog training with the RCMP in Canada, the world's top police dogs. It was a great life experience and many of the fellows are still great friends.

quack
Peter Loughran
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Magicduck, I would have loved to see those routines, very creative and original. Maybe you should carry on the tradition if you ever get another dog that is able.

P.
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Magicduck
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Peter,

I probably will some day. As it is, I still have Natasha, although she is very old. She still functions as a dog okay, but she is not good on stage anymore...looks kind of rough and is deaf. In her day she just loved it. She would race in the room to perform and then, after her illusion, go out into the audience and usually lay down next to someone while I finished my final effect. Her trick was second to last. It was very fun performing with her.

quack

I was reminded by a friend that three years ago I had written an article on dog's in magic, which is at Chazpro's site. Some of you may find it interesting. It is in the Magician's enquirer at "streetwise." The full address is below. Quack

Click Here!
Lee Marelli
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I agree with Peter, MagicDuck. It must have been something to see. I bet the audiences, especially the kids, really enjoyed Natasha. By the way, was she named after the character in Rocky and Bullwinkle? Also, thanks for the reference. Maybe, you have the makings for a book on using dogs in magic acts.

I am suprised more childrens' magicians do not use them at Mall shows and other public gatherings. I imagine it could be a problem at a small gathering, such as a home Birthday party. Maybe not, does anyone do this? How about at public childrens' shows?
"Mentalism is a state of mind." Marelli
Magicduck
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Natasha came from the pound. I got heavily into dog training after she nipped the mailman right after we got her, around 1992. This interest led to my working with police, as the trainer I chose was a fellow who specialized in cleaning up biting dogs. A trainer who can teach dogs to bite also knows how to work the other direction.

She became completely safe and won a few obedience prizes, although that is not something I worked on. The bit with the blindfold, actually, was pretty funny. I would have her say "hi" on command by barking as she faced the audience.

Then I would go into a line of monkey business about her being a certified psychic K-9. I would then turn her sideways and show a red blindfold made to go over her eyes. I would put it on her, in profile and then turn her back to the audience, as she sat. Then I would say that she could detect what I wanted, even with no means to communicate other than psychic. I would wave my hand in front of her, and she would lay down. I would then stand in front and give a "sit" hand signal... she would sit. Then I would give a hand signal for a finish... where the dog comes from in front of you, gets by your side and sits facing forward.

When she did that, and spun around, they would see that one side of the blindfold (the half they did not see as she sat in profile earlier) had a big eyehole... with one eye very visible. It made them roll in the ailes. Then I went into the regular routine.

At one point, years into this, it was like the dog herself decided to improve the act, or the comedy. After years of doing the down on a hand signal, out of the blue she changed to shaking hands first. So I would give the signal, and say down. She would put her paw out, we would shake, and then she would do as I asked. Very, very funny and her idea. She loved stages, audiences, kids and got so I could have someone release her from her kennel behind the audience and she would meander thru the audience on the way to the stage. She had a wonderful sense of showmanship.

I used this dog in childrens parties in homes, in backyards, in large fair settings, in office buildings, in large hotels. She was always well-groomed, minded perfectly and I never found any place she was not welcome.

When I was doing this effect, especially the sword thru neck, with her it was the biggest "illusion" in my show. This dog act was the finale and was far more effective than anything else I have ever done: levitations, guillotine, choppers of various sorts, portable sawing.

quack
Lee Marelli
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Thanks all for the input. I hope we got some of our members who have dogs thinking about using them in their shows.
"Mentalism is a state of mind." Marelli
Harry Murphy
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MagicDuck’s routines harkens back to a time when dogs were more commonplace in magic shows. There are records of acts dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries where dogs were part of the show. They danced, counted, found cards, (yes cards were in use then) and so forth.

That was a time when street magic (street performing in general) and performing at Market Fairs was a staple of life. Dogs served a triple purpose. They performed, they protected, and they were a pack animal!

M. Duck, I would have loved to have seen your Natasha in action!

Most I have ever done with my dogs is to produce them from a dollhouse illusion! That was Eleanor my British Bulldog! She was always a hit!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
simage
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Wow, Magicduck!! What a great dog. I would love to involve my new puppy, after extensive training, into my kid's show. The training would have to include the dog
"kenneling" herself between the tricks that she does. It is certainly possible, but the energy of puppies...

I think it would be worth it in the end.

Thanks Magicduck, you have encouraged me at least to try. Smile
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james_magic
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I have an old video of a lady performing with dogs, it was great! She used about 6 dogs in her act also about 12 doves. I don't recall the name of the performer though,
James
Magicduck
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This is to Simage.

Certainly your dog, to be safe and of any quality on stage, must be trained well. You want "reliability" and that comes with training and exposing the dog to many distractions. Like a professional working dog, such as a police dog, a magic dog must reliably do what it does even with loud noises and people around, food smells, other dogs and animals... you name it.

It would not be that hard to teach your dog to kennel up. In my case, this is what I did: I have the dog kenneled until prior to her effect. Then I do the verbal lead in and she is sent in by an assistant, or if I am alone, I let her out and she comes in with me. After the effect, she does a down-stay, until I finish my final quick closer and goodby chat.

After the show people pet her, and she is out in view for some time. The bottom line is, I do not need to have her kennel up again during the show. When we are done, she just goes out to the car with me.

The dog effect, if you come up with a good one, is so strong it should be your closer, or just in front of a quick closer. It will be the best thing in your show. So I do not know that you need to keep having your dog come in and go off again. I would pick something good and put it at the end as it will be hard to top and once they have seen the dog, they will be thinking about the animal anyway.

quack
simage
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Excellent points! Sorry for the slow reply, I was on vacation. I think I really need to get some reading materials on how to train a dog. Not that I couldn't - No, I don't know if I could do it without. It would be better just to get some good obedience training books, and then lots of time and patience.

You are right on with bringing her in for the last effect. I would like to "walk" her in on one of those stiff leashes which appear as if you have an invisible dog. Then unleash the invisible dog. Put it into a tip over trunk or something like that and then at the end of the show, pull out the real thing and put her on the leash. In that way there is control at first. Then if, over time she shows herself to work well with children and crowds, I could leave her off lead for a time and finally lead her out after a couple of minutes.

Another challenge is to make a stiff leash which looks like I'm leading in an invisible dog, but when I get down to "unleash" her, the leash goes limp (like a break apart wand) I've got to try a few things related to that.

Anyway, thanks for the advice!!
Simage.
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Magicduck
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At the least, you need books on training the dog. There is an old saying: Everyone knows how to train a dog. That is bull. Many people, who do not know what they are doing screw up the dog. For example, how many people wrestle with their dog. Such behavior, in doggie psych, can lead to an aggressive and biting dog. Why? Because you are playing, the dog is too, but is also thinking "dominance." You get slobbered up and bored, the dog is not. You quit and walk away. The dog thinks he just beat you, and is establishing dominance. A few of these bouts, the dog gets older, and someone reaches out to pat you on the back and boom... the dog nails them. Why.... because this person just made an aggressive movement against a member of "doggies pack." And doggie will protect his pack. If you think this is exagerated, it happened to me.... with Natasha. She would never have become the great magic asst she became, had it not been for that lawsuit first... seriously.

Better than a book.... pay for obedience training with someone who knows this stuff. Doggie psych is not as logical as human thought, although it starts making sense when you realize more about the makeup of the "pack" and survival instincts.

As for the leash.. for what you are doing, where everyone knows the leash is a comedy interlude anyway, you could make one up out of magic rope, dye it if you wish.. but put on the inside the mechanism used for "rigid rope" ...you can find a perfect solution that is cheap and easy in the first book by John Fedko. Your leash idea, with this insert, would be better than the rope trick I think

quack
Grandillusionsmagic
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I have been using my dog, (my dads hunting dog) in my show for over a year now and she loves it. Every time she sees me setting up the box she wants out to help. The trick is I show a red box (small blamo style) empty then I put some white cloth in the box and when I take the lid off my dog is there. It is a very short trick but everyone loves it!!!

I have never had her bark during the trick.
Smile
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GI
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Magicduck
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Since my experiences with Natasha were a prominent part of this section, I wanted to, sadly, issue an update.

This morning I had to have her put to sleep. It was a sad day, but it was also for the best. She had developed a serious neurological problem and suddenly could not walk. She was between 13 and 15 years of age. Other than the past 24 hours, she never had a sick day in her life and, in the time I had her, we were great buddies. She opened many doors for me. Not that many dogs from the pound ever did magic shows on stage or obedience trained with the RCMP...we did a lot!

I hope folks do not mind that I posted this here, as it is a downer story but it is my online tribute to "Natasha The Great White Wonder Dog From The North." She was one of a kind.

quack
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