By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
▪ On Thursday, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will open a four-day stay at the BancorpSouth Arena.
It’s Hans Klose’s job to bring out the best in a dog. He has 18 pooches, and 13 of them perform with him during Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s “Zing, Zang, Zoom” circus.
“Not every dog is capable of certain tricks,” the 35-year-old said during a phone interview from Corpus Christi, Texas. “It’s just like people who have specialized talents in different fields.”
A dog who likes to run and jump? That’s a no-brainer.
“You can tell right away that dog’s going to be a jumper,” Klose said.
A smart one, who’s good at paying attention?
“It’s going to be a lot easier for them to learn a balancing-type technique,” Klose said.
The point is to encourage the dog to do what comes naturally, and pretty soon he or she is ready for the center ring.
“The little dog that I do the somersault flip with, he just bounces like a spring,” Klose said. “When I first saw him, he was jumping 5 feet next to the pen he was in. You kind of know just by looking at them.”
At the Arena
From Thursday to Sunday, Klose, his dogs and the rest of the “Zing, Zang, Zoom” performers will do their best to entertain you at the BancorpSouth Arena.
Well, that’s not exactly true, because some of Klose’s dogs won’t be put through the same paces they used to go through. Only the young dogs get to show off.
“As they get older, I tone down the tricks. I have a couple of older dogs now and they don’t do anything but kind of sit on their seats and look pretty,” he said. “They all like going out there. It’s a daily activity for them, and they get treats.”
About 10 years ago, Klose took over the act from his parents. Other circus performers have offered helpful advice as he developed his own training style.
“All animal training is relatively the same. It’s all repetition and positive rewards. It’s just on a different level,” he said. “Obviously, an elephant’s not going to work for a piece of hot-dog like my dogs do, but even with training people, it’s practice and repetition that makes an acrobatic trick or your golf swing better.”
‘It’s a lifestyle’
Klose grew up in the circus. He tried the 9-to-5 world for a while, but his early circus training was too strong to overcome.
“That didn’t work out too well. I found you wake up every day and go to the same place, and you’re constantly waiting for the weekend. When’s Friday?” he said. “It just seems like time flies by so much faster when you’re trying to do that.”
He realizes some people can’t get over the amount of travel it takes to be in the circus. That’s a tough part of the life, especially with 18 dogs to cart around, but he has a modified RV with an indoor pen for the dogs to run around in.
He also has his wife, Mariya, to keep him company on the road and in center ring.
“My wife’s sister and her family do the Globe of Steel, where the motorcycles ride around in the globe,” he said. “Her sister is one of the few female motocross daredevils in the business.”
In addition to Klose’s family, “Zing, Zang, Zoom” will bring clowns, Cuban acrobats and a cat tamer.
A cat tamer?
“We actually have performing house cats. If anybody has tried to train a dog, they know that’s a challenge,” he said. “Imagine trying to train a house cat to do tricks.”
Average, everyday things take on different airs at the circus, and that’s where Klose feels most at home.
“With me growing up in the circus, it’s not really a job, it’s a lifestyle,” he said. “I love performing for kids and people. I love animals, so there’s nothing else that I’d rather be doing.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.