A group of furry theatre goers are winning the Internet. The Stratford Festival shared a photo of a group of service dogs in training attending a performance of Billy Elliot – The Musical and it’s so adorable. In the photo the dogs are sitting quietly in the seats facing the stage. But what you don’t see is their handlers training the dogs to walk through a theatre and remain calm while navigating the narrow aisles and taking in the lights, noises and movements that all happen in and around a theatre setting.
“It’s important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend,” Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer with K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC News. She and the handlers brought the dogs to a “relaxed performance” at the renowned Canadian theatre festival. A relaxed performance is geared towards families with infants and young children, people on the autism spectrum and folks that may need to get up and move around during a show. The staging also has softer lighting and the sound effects are gentler in consideration of the audience members.
The dogs were in the audience and took in the performance, quickly winning over the audience and staff with their good manners. The dogs also enjoyed goodies from a local canine bakery. Mackenzie said that the dogs loved the show almost as much as their handlers.
“It was a phenomenal show, all of our teams had a fantastic time,” the K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs wrote on Facebook. “We greatly appreciate the assistance from the staff and local goodies for our service dogs from The Barkery!”
Customer Coordinator at the Stratford Festival, Bev Nicholson, responded by writing, “It was such a pleasure to have you and your beautiful service dogs join us yesterday. They are all wonderful theatre patrons!”
The Stratford Festival is held every year in Stratford, Ontario, Canada and puts on a variety of productions. This year’s calendar includes The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Neverending Story, Othello, Billy Elliot, Little Shop of Horrors, The Crucible and several others.