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Canine acrobats strut their stuff

  • Chris Perondi brings his Stunt Dog Experience with more than two dozen canine stars to the Wells Fargo Center. (MATT O'HARVER)

Sometimes on a sunny afternoon at the park, a dog will delight the crowd by leaping high in the air to catch a flying disc thrown by its owner.

But there's no need to wait for such random acts of canine agility, not with Chris Perondi's Stunt Dog Experience show touring theaters across the country.

“We throw Frisbees over the audiences' heads from the back of theater, and the dogs are onstage catching as many as they can,” Perondi said.

Stunt Dogs At Wells Fargo Center

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The professional dog trainer and a dozen and a half of his four-legged stars will perform Saturday at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.

Originally from Stockton, Perondi has been on the road with the Stunt Dog Experience since 2008, including appearances on television with Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Jay Leno.

“You'll see dogs jumping rope, doing back-flips and walking backward on their hind legs,” Perondi said.

But most of all, he stressed, you'll see dogs having a good time.

“These dogs are pound puppies. They were once in a shelter. Some of them were adopted on the day they were going to be euthanized,” Perondi said. “These dogs have had a second chance on life, and they love what they do. They want to be out there.”

Frisbee dog

Trained affectionately, earning treats and toys as rewards, Perondi's dogs are matched with feats they enjoy performing.

“One of our dogs loves catching the Frisbee, but hates catching the ball,” Perondi. “I could tell it wasn't fun for him, so I said, 'OK, he can do something else.'”

As clever as these dogs can be, it's often their natural goofiness that makes them charming.

“We've had dogs come out and they're supposed to be doing a trick, and then all of sudden, they think they recognize somebody in the audience. And their tails start wagging and they go to the edge of the stage. The audience eats it up,” Perondi said.

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