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Mutts Gone Nuts

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HOST: Scott Houghton said he and his wife, Joan, had been doing a juggling act for two decades before they decided to try something different in 2005. That was when they transitioned to a dog act.
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DOGS: Manners and obedience are the first order of business when they start training rescue dogs, which they adopt from shelters.

by Rob Burgess - rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com

The Honeywell Center Ford Theater stage will welcome eager and talented canines during Mutts Gone Nuts at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $15, $20 and $30, according to a press release.

In a phone interview on Thursday, Scott Houghton said he and his wife, Joan, had been doing a juggling act for two decades before they decided to try something different in 2005.

That was when they transitioned to a dog act.

“I did enjoy our juggling act, but I like the dog act even better,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun because of the way people respond to dogs, and how much people love dogs, it makes it a fun show. We always know we’re going to have a good audience.”

Houghton said there are nine dogs in the show. Some of them belong to the couple, while others belong to Samantha Valle, an animal trainer they work with.

“(Samantha) has really propelled our act into a different level,” he said.

Houghton said he serves as the host of the show, while his wife works as the stage manager and tour manager. In addition to Valle, they also work with comedian Jonathan Burns.

But, Houghton said he knows who the real stars of the show are.

“The big draw, the reason people come to the theater is that they want to see our dogs,” he said.

Houghton said manners and obedience are the first order of business when they start training rescue dogs, which they adopt from shelters.

However, he said not every dog is ready for the stage.

“Sometimes we’ll be fostering a dog, it’ll be talented, but it’ll turn out maybe it’s not real keen on the audience or the lights or the environment,” he said. “Not every dog is a ringer.”

Houghton said the dogs they work with are working dogs including cattle dogs and border collies.

“They’re very focused and they have a great drive. They love to work. They love Frisbees and balls and pulling on stuff,” he said.

Houghton said he has big plans for the future. He said he’s working on a hat routine which will incorporate their juggling skills.

And coming soon: Pigs.

“They’re not in the show yet, but they may be in the show next year. They’re really smart and they’re a lot of fun and when they come out on stage they really surprise people. People just don’t expect to see a pig for some reason,” he said.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.honeywellcenter.org or by calling the Honeywell Box Office at 260-563-1102.