An inside look at a fan-favourite Calgary Stampede attraction, The Canine Stars

Some of the most talented dogs you’ll ever see have spent the last few days soaring, spinning, and flipping through the air at the Calgary Stampede Dog Bowl.

The Dog Bowl, presented by Haribo, brings The Canine Stars to Stampede Park for an impressive, action-filled show.

On Wednesday, there are five shows happening — 10:00 a.m., 12:00, 2:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.

One of the trainers, Whitney McNatt, says they’re happy to be performing at the Stampede again, and the show has drawn thousands of visitors so far.

“The Calgary Stampede is definitely my favourite show, the energy that the crowd brings to the Dog Bowl is like no other place, it is one of the coolest places to be, these crowds are the best,” she said.

McNatt says most of the two-dozen Canine Stars are rescue dogs, and are trained to expand on a skill they already love.

“We train them what they show the most interest in,” she explained. “If dogs love the water, then we train them in dock diving because that’s where they’re going to be the most successful. But if they love playing with toys and they love chasing frisbees, then they’re frisbee dogs. But, maybe they love to stand on their hind legs, then we train them in dancing. So we really just go with what the dogs love the most and we spend five to 10 minutes each day just working on different things, building a bond with each other and learning new tricks.”

McNatt’s dog, a nine-year-old Austrailan cattle dog named BeeGee, showed CityNews a number of tricks, including a perfect spin mid-air, and demonstrating his balance on his owner’s back.

It’s quite an attraction, and behind the scenes, McNatt says it’s a special experience, getting to travel the world, see new places, and make memories she will never forget.

“It’s incredible getting to see all these new places and getting to take your best friend with you, it’s such an incredible feeling,” she said.

McNatt adds it isn’t hard to be proud of BeeGee and the other Stars, as some of them come from difficult backgrounds.

“I love getting to promote how amazing rescue dogs can be, that’s the mission of The Canine Stars, to inspire people to adopt a dog,” she said. “I love getting to take the stage with my best friend that might have had a rough backstory, but now they’re coming out here and showing all the amazing things we’ve worked so hard to accomplish.

“People are chanting their name and it’s such a special feeling.”

Even though McNatt and BeeGee are co-workers, she says that doesn’t stop them from having a normal owner-pet relationship.

“Our dogs are our babies, they sleep in the bed with us, they sit at the table with us, we share food, we share our dinners with them, “she said. “They are our best friends and we love them more than anything.”

Entrance to the Dog Bowl is free with park admission.

For more information, visit the Calgary Stampede website.

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