We often envision the grand horses and alluring tigers when we think of the circus, but there’s one act of clever canines that is just as talented and vital to making the circus a family favorite! Hans Klose and his wife Mariya are the proud leaders of a high-energy canine act in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDS℠.
Hans owns 21 dogs, including those that have retired from performing. “I don’t let go of the dogs that have been with me because they are a part of my family,” said Klose. All of the dogs except for the poodles were rescued from pounds and shelters. “These dogs are my life. I spend several hours a day with them, grooming, feeding, and taking care of them. It’s like they were my children.”
We were lucky enough to talk to Hans about life in the circus, the newest addition to his act, and the dogs that he calls family. Check out what we learned, then enter to win a Family 4-Pack to the show!
Applause Blog: What is a performance day like? How do you and your wife prepare your animals for a show?
Hans Klose: A typical day will begin around 9 a.m. to let out the dogs and pigs. We clean their pens outside, check all the feed to ensure we are prepared for the day, practice for an hour or so and then do regular grooming and washing. Right before our short preshow performance and the show, we prepare the leashes and show collars and check that all of our props are in nice working conditions.
AB: How will the addition of pigs change your performance routine?
HK: The addition of pigs slowed the pace of our routine down. It takes more time to work with the differing personalities, because they each respond to different types of commands.
AB: How do the pigs and dogs get along?
HK: As long as they don’t have to share items, space or food they work well together. Both the dogs and the pigs have their individual areas and when my wife and I are there they have no issues getting along.
AB: I read that your dogs earn hotdogs for tricks and training. Do the pigs have a favorite treat?
HK: The pigs love Oreo cookies.
AB: Many of your performers are rescue dogs. How do you decide if a dog is suited for the circus life?
HK: Some types of dogs are better suited for tricks than others – Terrier type dogs are well-suited for performing, as well as poodles. Younger, energetic and people-friendly dogs are typically well suited for the circus life.
AB: Most of the circus performers travel on the RBBB train, but you move from location to location in an RV. What are the best and worst parts of RV living? How do you get food for all of the humans and animals on board?
HK: The best part is you are self-contained and have access to transportation to do activities in your spare time. Most of the time the RV’s will arrive to the city before the train, which means we have more time to ourselves. The worst part would be having to drive yourself. We place special food orders from town to town for the animals, which arrive every other week.
AB: What is the best part of your job?
HK: The best part is getting to see the smiles on kids’ faces from town to town. Nothing makes your day easier, as a performer, than when the crowd is responsive, energetic and having a great time.
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