"AND THEN THERE WAS ONE"
Patty in the lead.
, “AND THEN THERE WAS ONE” By Joanne Wilson 2004
In 1991, I decided that I needed some dogs to make another act, It had been years since I had a dog act. I was working my elephant "Susy” on the Williams-Althoff Circus in Tampa at the time, and I mentioned around that I was thinking about getting some dogs. Evy Karoly had come up from Sarasota for the date, and was parked on the other side of the tent, when she heard what I wanted, she said go look in her horse trailer. There they were, the future "FABULOUS BROADWAY POODLES” (later named that by Lee Stevens), 4 white noses sticking through the slats, I said oh no, I don't want poodles, well, maybe just 4.They were just old enough to start training, however I was still on the road with the elephant, so I ask Evy if she would come to my house and train them for me, I told her what tricks I wanted and she went to work.
I named them Leigh, Phil, Dusty, and Michell, I felt 4 large poodles would be enough to fill the ring, but I made a mistake and went to the circus flea market, someone had brought a 7 month old black standard poodle to sell, and I thought it would look nice with the black dog in the center and 2 white ones on each side, so Chris came home with me. “And then there were 5”.
They made their debut on Phils Brothers Circus in the summer of 1992, but before I left to go on the road Evy said she had 3 more puppies and I should take them, so I loaded them up, “And then there was 8”.
These dogs I named Annie, Bela, and Hines, I let the puppies grow up that summer and trained them that winter. I did the next season with 8 dogs but again the pyramid was off center, so I called Evy and said that I need one more poodle. One day she stopped by with 2 dogs and before I could decide which one I wanted she said "Gotta Go, Bye", I yelled after her that I only want one, “And then there were 10”.
I named these two David and Patty I only worked 9 dogs, but trained number 10 as a spare. Having 10 standard poodles was quite an experience and a lot of work. I worked the Swap Shop one time and while I was grooming the poodles, Vicky Hannaford said "I can't believe you traded the elephant for the poodles. They are so much work". She was right, but less stress, at least I can go to town and not worry.
There are so many stories about these dogs, like the time when there were 5 and they went out the back door and just kept going. The only one available to go get them was my sister Linda and she clocked 21/2 miles, she made it back just in time for her act. And the time I forgot to hook the fence when I went in to run them, before I noticed it, I had let 5 out, and away they went. We were in a residential area of upper class homes built in the rolling hills. Oh what fun, "Linda, come help me catch the dogs." She forgot her shoes. Oh well, the lawns were beautiful. One day there was an abandoned tennis court near my trailer so I thought it would be nice to put them inside an let them run around for a while, fifteen minutes later they were still running full speed around the track, so I ask Linda to help me get them home or they wouldn't be able to walk the next day. Sure enough, they were all to sore to work for 4 days!!!! Then there was the time I did hook the fence to let them out in the building in Evansville, Ind. But the dogs played so hard they knocked the snap on the gate lose, and away they went, out of the building, up the ramp and across the parking lot towards the freeway off ramp. My daughter was in the restaurant by the ramp and saw the dogs running towards her, she said, "That looks like my moms dogs, oh my gosh it is her dogs", running out to help with the capture. By that time I was sprinting across the parking lot with leashes in hand, screaming, come here, come here,(not knowing any names as all white poodles look alike running the other way at 40 miles per hour) They finally heard me and ran to me, talk about stress, my elephant never ran away.
In 1996 the black dog Chris got Addisons disease, and was on pills until the pills no longer worked so he left me. “And then there were 9”.
These dogs made my living for all of those years, They never missed a show, not one dog, they took me all over America and twice to Puerto Rico, working with shows like Phils Bros., Alain Zerbini, Barry Yiengst, Dave Dueck, Jesus Segera-Puerto Rico, Billy Martin-Big Top Circus, Billy Martin,Cole All Star Circus, Sarasota Festival, Puerto Rico-Oriental Productions, Tarzan Zerbini, Joe Baur, Royal American Circus, Dubski Circus, George Corona, Tommy Hanneford, Ray Valentine, Swap Shop, for George and Vicky Hanneford, Wallenda, Paul Kaye-Evansville, IN, two movies and a documentary.
We toured from 1992 until 1999, and we did dates until 2003, by then the dogs were getting old, they were 12 years old and were starting to feel the effects of big dogs traveling and working. Their age was starting to take a toll, and they started leaving me. Not wanting to add young dogs to that act I just stopped working them. They were so good to me in those working years, that I wanted them to relax until the end. One by one they left until Patty was the only one left, and she was doing fine until last week, and on February 28 she left me, at the age of 15. Where does the time go? Rest in peace my dear friends.
If tears could build a stairway and memories build a lane, I'd walk right up to heaven and bring them home again.
Dedicated to the original "Fabulous Broadway Poodles",
Leigh, Dusty, Chris, Michelle, Phil, Bela, Annie, Hines, David, and Patty.
"And then there were none" March 2008
You don't wear your rhinestone collars anymore
You can hardly walk across the floor
You will not do another show
You'll stay right here till you have to go
It’s no small loss for me you know
You were my life 10 years or so
You bought my home
You bought your own
Now young dogs do the show
Your hearts must break when you can't go
You worked your hearts out for 12 years
And when you go I'll shed my tears
Rest in peace my dear friends---Joanne