But year after year, one act at the PNE manages to steal the show: SuperDogs. It’s low-tech, old-fashioned and a little bit goofy, but this showcase of super talented canines manages to pack much of 14,000-seat Pacific Coliseum three times a day. If there’s one reason to get out to the PNE before it winds down on Monday, this is it.
The SuperDogs show starts with a jumping competition. Breeds of all kinds race around the show floor, vaulting hurdles while inspirational music pumps in the background. There are sheepdogs and greyhounds and dalmations and terriers and even little pugs. Among the dozens of dogs in the show, 30 percent are rescued from animal shelters. All of the dogs undergo an average of two years of training before appearing in the spotlight.
The hurdles creep higher and higher – dogs springing over the bar like kangaroos – until one athletic pooch is left standing. From there, the show splits into any number of routines. There are the weaves, where racing mutts dash back and forth through a set of flags like furry downhill ski racers. And the freestyle dance competition, where owners and dogs strut their stuff to a hip-hop soundtrack. And even a variation on musical chairs, where dogs promenade around the floor until the music stops, then race to sit down on mats.
Part of the SuperDogs charm, of course, is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. This isn’t the Westminster Dog Show, after all. Dogs – with names like Justin Bieber, Puff Daddy, 7Up and Snap, Crackle and Pop (a set of three friendly pugs) – get overexcited, bark, jump and tear off around the ring in mad fits of energy. Meanwhile, the audience is divided into “bow-wows” and “woof-woofs,” who cheer on the stars to a cheesy hip-hop soundtrack that sounds about 20 years out of date.
The SuperDogs finale is a relay race, where teams of five dogs must complete an obstacle course of tunnels, ramps and cones in as little time as possible. Watching them explode out of the gate and whiz by in a blur of paws and shaggy hair, you’d think they were in hot pursuit of dinner. And the best part for the kids (and the young at heart): After all the action is over, many of the dogs stick around for some one-on-one time with fans. Justin Bieber – no surprise – is always swamped.
Any other SuperDogs fans out there? What’s your favourite part of the show?