Service Dogs Enjoying Production Of Billy Elliot Goes Viral For All The Right Reasons
A group of service dogs went viral recently after they were pictured being VERY good doggos at the theatre, where they were calmly watching a production of Billy Elliot.
You can see why the image struck a chord with so many, with those little heads poking out from behind the seats so they can get their musical theatre fix.
But the four-legged spectators were actually there to practice assisting their owners, who they need to help moving though tight areas and safely navigating through an audience.
The service dogs had been taken to a show at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada, last week, where they were trying to get used to ignoring other theatregoers - and their snacks, I'd imagine.
"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."
Mackenzie said the dogs were 'fantastic and remained relaxed throughout the performance', and because they behaved so well she hopes to bring in another group of trainees soon.
"Some even watched through the cracks of the seats," she said.
"The dogs loved the show almost as much as their handlers."
The production of Billy Elliot at the festival billed itself as a 'relaxed' performance, which according to CBC is for 'people who need softer lighting and gentler sounds, who tend to vocalize during the performances, or who need to move around, making the shows ideal for attendees on the autism spectrum, parents with infants or young children, or people who need to get up during a show'.
While the dogs crucial company for their handlers, unsurprisingly, many people in the audience were thrilled to share the theatre with the pooches.
"Everybody was so thrilled to see all these dogs at one time in the audience," said Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager.
"It's really exciting. And it's thrilling to be part of something that is going to serve theatre-goers of the future."
Swerdfager explained that many service dogs attend the performances each week, adding: "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."
Featured Image Credit: K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs