Service dogs attend a performance of ‘Billy Elliot: The Musical’ as part of their training

21 August 2019, 13:15

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A pack of Canadian service dogs attended a live musical, as part of their training on how to accompany their owners to the theatre.

If you’ve had a ruff day, here’s an image to cheer you up: a polite crowd of about a dozen future service dogs attended an August performance of Billy Elliot: The Musical.

The dogs, positively pawsitively spellbound (we’ll stop now), silently sat and watched the musical, which took place at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada.

The event was part of a two-year training program by K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs according to head trainer Laura MacKenzie.

She told CNN that the future service dogs have been touring zoos, subways and crowded fairs to get them used to the unfamiliar lights and sounds, rapid movements and busy crowds they might encounter with their handler.

“We were pleasantly surprised that all of our dogs did great,” she said. “We had no problems. No barking, no restlessness; they did their jobs, so it made us feel great.”

When attending the theatre, the dogs are expected to sit under the seat or curl up at their handlers’ feet while their humans enjoy the show, she continued.

This particular showing of Billy Elliot was a relaxed rendition, with reduced noise and flashing lights to accommodate audience members with special requirements.

During the performance, the dogs remained calm and quiet, mostly nestled between seats. However, she said, a few curious canines peeked their heads over the seats to catch a few minutes of the show.

Stratford Festival’s Ann Swerdfager told CNN the company was “thrilled” to host the dogs for training, as many of the theatre’s patrons already bring their service dogs to performances.

“The dogs were extremely well behaved,” she said. "We hope they will join us for years to come.”

We’ll be taking suggestions for next year’s screening... Fiddler on the Woof, perhaps?