61: My Roadie

61: My Roadie

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!

My Roadie

Yesterday I was a dog. Today I’m a dog. Tomorrow I’ll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There’s so little hope for advancement.

~Charles M. Schulz

Years ago when I toured numerous schools with my one-woman mime, clown, and circus children’s shows, I would take my Golden Retriever along with me for companionship. Kane wasn’t a great conversationalist, but he was always a great listener, giving me his undivided attention.

When my performances were over for the day, though tired, I would pack up my van and we would drive to our next destination. After finding a local motel and checking in for the night, Kane and I would set out on a long walk to discover our new surroundings. Sometimes by chance we’d find a park and occasionally some water-front for Kane’s enjoyment. Accompanied by my portable security system, my one-hundred-plus-pound canine, I felt safe exploring new areas.

With my best friend by my side I never felt alone despite being the outsider in each community we visited. My furry buddy taught me how to project a positive first impression, giving strangers the benefit of the doubt with his friendly disposition.

After we finished exploring the area, I’d buy a few groceries and we’d return to our motel room. I’d carry in my belongings and necessities from the van and then place a few personal items around the room to help me feel more at home. Unlike me Kane, who had no materialistic ties, had minimal needs. With some food, water, and me for company, he’d settle in for the night and be snoring away in no time.

Early the next morning, we’d head off to another school and begin the process of preparing and performing my show once again. Kane would escort me into the gym and hang around while I organized my props, sound system, and other equipment. He was the ultimate theater ambassador who knew how to manipulate the school officials into allowing him to stay in the building, despite the health codes.

“You know you’re not supposed to have dogs in the . . . ” a school official’s comment would always begin. Then Kane would approach him or her and turn on the charm.

“He’s so beautiful . . . ” the official would continue, while petting Kane. “What’s his name?”

Then I would hear “If you need anything please let me know.”

“Thanks, I will,” I’d respond politely.

Before the show would start, Kane and I could be found in the locker room. As I smeared on my stage make-up and donned my costume, he would calmly loll around or sleep close by. Nothing seemed to faze him, not even the sound of the gym filling up with hundreds of excited children awaiting my show. It always thrilled me to hear the students’ energized pre-show chatter, no matter how many times I performed. This steadfast dog would continue lying there peacefully and usually not even wake up.

When the time was right, a staff member would knock on the door and inform me that the audience was ready. As planned, I would start my sound system with my remote control and listen for the taped sports broadcaster announcing the start of a race.

Once I heard “ . . . and they’re off . . . ” that was my cue to open the door and enter the gym as a clown riding on my unicycle. While I pedaled around the audience, the taped announcer would comment on the race between me and other imaginary contestants. As the race progressed I would pretend to interact and pass the other supposed athletes, resulting in my first place finish.

One time, unlike any other, right after I rode into the gym, I heard the crowd go wild. I assumed that this was just an overly enthusiastic audience. The cheering crowd, to my delight, added to the fun of this mimed race. It wasn’t until I rode around the audience for a whole lap that I realized Kane had joined in the race too. He must have followed me as I was leaving the changing room, but I didn’t notice him behind me. No doubt it appeared planned and well choreographed, which carried a huge amount of audience appeal. Since I couldn’t stop my show to remove him, we both kept circling the spectators. My heart was beating in my mouth. I didn’t know what to expect. All I could do was to continue and hope for the best.

As the race neared its end Kane was closing in on me, but luckily I was still in the lead. I was able to break through the crepe paper finish line when Kane stopped just after me. I managed my big finale, with lots of bows and confetti throwing as he sat panting with tail wagging. To show my good sportsmanship, I applauded this second place contestant. The sound of the audience clapping was monumental.

I calmly walked my dog off to the side, quickly gave him to a teacher to escort back into the locker room and continued with my performance. The spectators booed at the sight of this star being taken out of the show. Who could blame them? As the music changed, the students soon became engrossed in my next act and didn’t take long to settle down.

After the show, hugging Kane and chuckling, I told him “You were great! I didn’t know you were such a good actor. What a good dog!” I could hardly say anything other than praise his performing debut. He gave me a proud gaze as if to let me know that he understood his accomplishment.

Undoubtedly, Kane’s performance was the highlight of that school tour. Tempted as I was to use my favourite canine again in my show, I just couldn’t take the chance. Kane, I guess, was satisfied with his few minutes of fame and never tried to jump into the act again.

It will always remain a mystery to me why Kane decided to join in that show. If he could speak, no doubt he would have an interesting version of the event to share.

~Dalia Gesser

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