A photo of Canadian service dogs attending ‘Billy Elliot’ production in a Canadian theatre last week is all over the internet. The photo shows poodles and golden retrievers occupying at least four rows and attentively watching the stage during the Stratford Festival in Ontario.
The objective was to avoid fur from flying during the live show so the pups can help their handlers navigate a theatre atmosphere.
“It’s important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend,” Laura Mackenzie, owner of K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs and who spearheaded the outing told CBC radio, cited Fox News. “The theatre gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises and movement of varying degrees. The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time.”
The canine participated in the theatre’s ‘relaxed performance,’ made for attendees with autism or for those who need a calmer experience. The venue also has shows that cater to those who have hearing or visual impairments.
“They were all extremely well-behaved,” Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager told the radio station.
The festival authorities took to Twitter to share the image of the dogs watching the production along with some other pictures:
People dropped all kinds of comments on the post. Here’s how they reacted:
Swerdfager informed that both cast and audience members were thrilled to see the dogs. Also, it’s a unique training method that gives service handlers an advantage.
“It’s wonderful that going to the theatre is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theatre is out of reach for people who require a service animal because it isn’t,” Swerdfager told the outlet, cited Fox News.
As the dogs were very good during the show, Mackenzie said she plans to return with more dogs in the future.
“All of the dogs were fantastic and remained relaxed throughout the performance. Some even watched through the cracks of the seats,” said Mackenzie. “The dogs loved the show almost as much as their handlers.”