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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pooches part of trainer's family
Hans Klose, his wife, Mariya, and their family of dogs will perform during the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
By Charmain Z. Brackett Correspondent, The Augusta Chronicle
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Circus performer Hans Klose has a nontraditional family.A lot of people ask about animal care. Circus people are good people. The animals we train become part of the family," said Klose, a dog trainer with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
The circus begins five performances of ZING ZANG ZOOM at James Brown Arena tonight at 7. Shows are also set for 7 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Klose has 18 dogs, including four standard poodles, seven fox terriers, one Great Dane, an Australian shepherd and a couple of mixed-breed dogs. Thirteen of them are part of his and wife Mariya's act.
Klose spends most of his days with his dogs. Although they practice only about an hour each day, he and Mariya take turns running and playing with them about six times a day.
Some of his performing pooches have not come from expensive breeders but from animal shelters.
"I do go look at shelters if I'm in need of a new dog," he said.
When Klose chooses a new dog, he has some specific criteria in mind.
"They need a lot of energy," said Klose, whose parents were also circus performers and formed the dog act that was passed down to him.
A dog that likes to sleep most of the day does not make a good performing animal. Also, he looks for younger animals between the ages of about 8 months and 18 months.
Older dogs can learn tricks, but Klose said he has to consider the overall lifespan of a potential performer.
It takes a lot of time to train a dog, and typically, dogs will begin to slow down between the ages of 8 and 10.
He does have some older dogs in his act.
"They sit there and look pretty," he said.
Once they are unable to perform, they retire as his personal pets.
"Once I get a dog, it stays with me all its life," he said.
Klose said he's often asked the toughest part of his job.
"The work with them is personal. When one passes away, that's the hardest part of the job," he said.

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