At intermission, scores of people stopped by (usually with a child or two in tow) to admire the parti pair. The aisle was quite wide and we had the dogs perform some of their tricks such as saying prayers, begging, covering their nose with a paw, and dancing with their front feet on ours. I was so proud of the way they handled all the attention – especially Sydney. Due to my illness (bronchial pneumonia) when she was eight to sixteen weeks old, Sydney had not been socialized at that critical period in her development: it has taken a great deal of work on my part to get her to where she is today.

After the show, I went to Dawn’s box truck parked directly behind the back door entrance to meet her dogs. Dawn rescues her Comedy Canines from animal shelters and trains them to perform in the show. All of the dogs weigh between 15 to 50 pounds – and most are high energy types who love crowds and the excitement of being on stage. I can’t imagine controlling nine high-octane dogs in a performance, but Dawn did it with ease and aplomb.

As a rule in our society, dogs are excluded from attending theater shows and performances; therefore, it was really a special treat that my parti Standard Poodles were accepted and welcomed by the Comedy Barn staff and performers. We greatly appreciate this concession and can only hope that some foolish person with an ill-mannered dog does not cause the management to rescind this wonderful privilege for responsible dog owners.

"If they will lie quietly at your feet, you can bring your dogs in with you to watch the show," said Dawn when I emailed her about attending her performance while on our upcoming visit to see family in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I knew Dawn from a performing pets Internet group we are both on. She and her Comedy Canines perform twice daily, seven days a week at the Comedy Barn Theater in Pigeon Forge.

I was euphoric! I could take my parti Standard Poodles Jyah and Sydney into the theater to watch a show? When does something that astonishing ever happen! I immediately made arrangements for us to attend a Monday afternoon show at the Comedy Barn in early October 2007.

Business offices are not always what they once were. My husband’s office is a 43 foot motorcoach that he drives several thousand miles a year. Having a motorcoach makes traveling with dogs much easier as we have our own self-contained accommodations.

We arrived at Two Rivers Landing RV Park late in the afternoon and were immediately struck by the beautiful view from our slot which overlooked the picturesque French Broad River. On the far side of the river, there was a broad grassy expanse where every morning and evening we saw herds of deer and flocks of wild turkey. There was a grassy area directly in front of our parking slot, and we and the dogs enjoyed sitting there on a blanket waving to people who canoed by on the river. 

Before bed each night, Jyah and I played his favorite game -- get the blanket snake.

All of Dawn's dogs were rescued from shelters and now perform in her very entertaining act at The Comedy Barn.  

The RV park was within easy driving distance of numerous attractions such as theaters, exhibits, amusement parks, dining, shopping, horseback riding, boating, and hiking. Since the main reason for our trip was to see family, we did not tow a car for our two day visit as we would be touring with them in their van. Driving with family through Pigeon Forge, we stopped in the historic section of town and walked around the area, stopping in many of the shops where Jyah and Sydney were greatly admired and frequently photographed. These were extremely crowded conditions and the dogs behaved admirably, making them wonderful diplomats for the parti-colored Poodle.

While touring Pigeon Forge, we saw such things as a Murder Mystery dinner show theater, a Hollywood Wax Museum, Wonderworks (billed as an amusement park for the mind), a Broadway style Kung Fu show, an Elvis impersonator theater, huge multi-level go-cart courses, and an endless number of other attractions. However, since we would go to only one show while there, I wanted to see one that featured a dog act. Better yet . . . a dog act featuring someone I knew from an Internet group.

Dawn grew up working at pet stores, stables, and volunteering at the zoo. After graduating high school, she moved from her home in New Jersey to California where she attended Moorpark College in their Exotic Animal Training and Management Program. After college, Dawn worked at Six Flags California training animals and educating the public about them. Six years later she moved back to New Jersey to be closer to her family. There she worked as a regional training manager for a nationwide dog training company where she was responsible for training and supervising over 50 dog trainers on the east coast. She also worked at a local animal shelter and trained dogs. With the help of a New York agent, her dog Lady worked in commercials and movies.

A few years later Dawn moved to the mountains of Tennessee where she became active with the local humane society and met The Comedy Barn owner at a fund raiser. He was impressed with Dawn’s dogs and the tricks they could do. That same year, the current trainer at the theater was leaving and Dawn was offered the opportunity to find and train dogs for the show. She left her manager job and spent the next four months finding and training dogs for the show. Dawn has been performing at the Comedy Barn now for several years and still loves doing the show as much as she did the first day she started.

The family and I along with Jyah and Sydney arrived at the Comedy Barn early so as not to disrupt the flow of people entering the theater. An area by the front door was decorated with bales of hay, pumpkins, and fall flowers. Standing in this display were several scarecrows in overalls, gaily colored plaid and floral shirts, and funny hats. Their cheerful, painted faces started us smiling before we even entered the theater. (As most of the theaters/restaurants/attractions we saw had lavish autumn decorations out front, I figured that seasonal decorating must be a big business in Pigeon Forge.)

As we entered the alcove, we noticed several hillbilly-type characters standing around engaging arriving patrons in banter. A man in overalls took our picture and then we were led into the theater by a pretty, pleasant woman who had a thick, black braid of hair hanging down to her waist. While complimenting us on the beauty and manners of our Poodles, she escorted us to a row of seats against the back wall where there was a wide aisle in front. After we settled the dogs at our feet on their "stay" quilt (a 60-inch-square quilt that the dogs are trained to stay on in public places), I noticed there was a souvenir booth on either side of the stage, and that Dawn was coming up the aisle toward us from one of them.

This was the first time I had met Dawn in person – she is a valuable source of information and a congenial exchange partner on our performing pets group – and she was as pleasant and down-to-earth in person as she is on the forum. I introduced her to Jyah and Sydney and we chatted for awhile before the show. She invited me to come backstage afterwards to meet her dogs.

As we visited, the audience had been filing in and the theater was filling up. The show began and to my surprise, all of the "characters" I had seen at the front door were performers on-stage . . . and, our seating hostess was the star singer! Although we were sitting in the back, we could easily see everything on stage and the acoustics were as good as if we were sitting in the front row. We were told that the Comedy Barn Theater is where the old Hee Haw television show had been filmed.  The current one-and-a-half hour show certainly has the same flavor: the family-type jokes and skits were all "country".

Dawn and her Comedy Canines were on stage for about ten minutes and their energy and enthusiasm was contagious. Their performance could have gone on for an hour and I would have been happy. Dawn had nine dogs on stage.  There was so much going on I would have had to watch the performance several times to remember it all. There was a dog who climbed a ladder, walked a tightrope, and then slid down a slide. Tricks included a dog standing on his hind legs while twirling a hula hoop around his stomach, a dog who flipped off Dawn’s backside whenever she bent over, and a dog who pulled open an outhouse door, went inside (a flushing sound was heard), then walked out with toilet paper stuck to a hind foot. The dogs on stage were having a wonderful time, and I wondered if the commotion of their performance would excite my dogs. However, Jyah and Sydney lay quietly on their quilt throughout the entire show.

Sydney, Jyah, and Charlene watching the show at the Comedy Barn