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March 22, 2012
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High-energy canine hijinks in Beaver Creek

BEAVER CREEK - Imagine traveling with 13 kids; imagine the potty stops.

Now, imagine traveling with 13 dogs that can't tell you when they have to go, but you have to know anyway.

That's the life of Chris Perondi, the "experience" in the Stunt Dog Experience. He'll put on two shows Friday in Beaver Creek's Vilar Center.

Perondi was on I-70 west when we found him, just west of the Eisenhower Tunnel, pulling a 40-foot fifth wheel packed with 13 animals.

"We're looking forward to it. We have a full show with some of the coolest stunt dogs in the world," Perondi said.

When it's time to hit the road, some of them are at the door going, "Let me in, we're ready to go," Perondi said. "A few of them are a little more reluctant, but dogs are pack animals and they travel well."

"We love our dogs. They're our kids," Perondi said.

Yeah, but can you imagine traveling with 13 kids - or dogs? They require regular attention.

"It takes longer to get places than it would normally. We have to take potty stops every few hours and it can be pretty involved with 13 dogs," Perondi said.

The show lasts an hour an it's broken into 30-minute segments, because a half hour is about as long as an excited dog can wait to, well ... you know.

The show is high energy stunts, comedy and a bunch of stuff you could teach your dog or your kids to do if you'd quit feeding them both Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.

Their tails are wagging and they want to please, not just Perondi but also the audience.

In some places they do three shows a day.

"It's not uncommon to do more than 600 shows a year," Perondi said.

It takes about a year to train a dog for the show. They perform everything from big air stunts and pawstands. During a black light and fog-filled segment, the dogs catch glow-in-the-dark Frisbees.

They're all rescue dogs. When he was a kid Perondi bought a puppy from a pet shop, but the dog died before it was 4 years old because its liver had not developed properly. Bad breeding practices were to blame. Never again, Perondi promised.

"We'll take the dogs other people don't really want, the ones that are a little hyper and might jump on you," Perondi said. "People generally want the ones that are more calm."

The Stunt Dogs need to be friendly, not shy, but focus and drive are the two main factors, Perondi said.

"We don't force the dogs to do anything they don't want to do, so they need that drive to perform and to learn something new," Perondi said.

The show encourages people to think adoption first when getting a pet, something he lives by.

In 1996 he adopted a dog from the pound - Pepper, a border collie cattle dog mix - and taught him to play Frisbee. Pepper is 16 and still with us. Perondi's parents watch him when he's on the road.

Anyway, Perondi founded a Frisbee club for dogs and owners, and won the national Frisbee championships. People started asking him to do stunt dog demonstrations, so he found a few more dogs and put together an act. He started touring regionally in 1999 after quitting his tech job and selling his house. By 2001 he was on the road nationwide almost full time.

He said he didn't know how to market himself, but it turns out he didn't need to. The show caught on, quickly and he found himself performing at animal parks, fairs and the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

"The distractions of the audience takes them the longest to get used to," Perondi said. "That's why it's important for dogs to have focus, that want to play and have fun, and don't want to do anything else."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 22, 2012 05:01PM Published Mar 22, 2012 04:51PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.