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Showbiz is going to the dogs. At least if Wesley Williams has anything to say about it.
The Weston resident is the trainer/producer of “Puppy Pals,” which he bills as a “comedic stunt dog show.” Last year his canine cast made it to the quarterfinals of the reality TV competition show “America’s Got Talent.”
But now Williams — who is also the “One Wheel Wonder” circus unicyclist — is back home from gig-to-gig traveling on the road and will bring his dog trick show to Mizner Park Cultural Center in Boca Raton on Saturday, Sept. 25 and to the Delray Beach Playhouse in Delray Beach on Sunday, Sept. 26.
“All those tricks you’ve ever wanted to teach your own dog are in the show,” Williams explains. “All our dogs are quite smart, and they have big personalities. For example, they’ll jump through a hoop, but with a different spin on it. The dogs, they know over 250 different commands.”
There are four dogs in the show (”All dogs are rescues in one way or another,” says Williams) doing everything from walking a tightrope to climbing a double ladder. Williams says there will be other variety entertainment on the bill in the 90-minute show with an intermission.
“There’s a pre-show too,” adds Williams. “I call it the puppy palooza pre-show [an hour before curtain]. We invite the family to come on down and we have face painting. Of course you can get a photo after the show, but you can get a unique photo before the show…with a greenscreen background we do.”
In a way, this whole furball fanfare was made paw-sible when, a few years ago, Williams wanted a dog to keep him company while on tour with various circuses as a unicyclist. “I started training the dog little by little,” he recalls. “He got very, very good.”
That was Cash, a toy poodle mix, so-named because he’s all business. Then came standard poodle Rudy, rat terrier mix Jetta and miniature poodle mix Gizmo.
But if you caught their run on “America’s Got Talent,” you didn’t see Williams out front leading the pack of pooch performers. Though he solely trained the dogs, he was busy appearing on other TV shows (most recently wowing judges at “Britain’s Got Talent” and a tour in Spain), so a then-8-year-old Alexis Brownley stood in for him on season 15 of “America’s Got Talent” in 2020. Williams himself had appeared on the popular NBC talent show three years earlier.
But his love of dogs goes way back to his childhood. The 23-year-old recalls, “Growing up in Weston, Florida…is like not a place where you can have a lot of farm animals. I grew up in…a gated community with a homeowner’s association. But I was always in love with animals. All my birthday parties had animals. I was always on Craig’s List looking to buy another animal.”
When he was 6 he got a unicycle as a birthday present. “We had a birthday party and we had a clown…but I took over the show.”
As he was home-schooled, Williams continued to nudge his way into entertainment at Sawgrass Mills mall.
“Growing up we went to Wannado City in the mall,” he explains. “And then I would do my own shows in the theme park until the management kicked me out. By 13 I was doing full-fledged gigs here in South Florida. At 15 I got signed and went on the road full-time with the circus. I’m a good unicyclist, but I’m a better entertainer.”
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Are they diva dogs or humble hounds?
While on the road, Williams says he refused to crate his Fido friends.
“Basically we have our very own trailer for the dogs and myself. And we travel all over the place. We do a lot of fairs and festivals. We travel as unit. I have four dogs. Some dog acts have 13, 14 or 20 dogs. That was never my goal. My goal was take in as many dogs as I can manage.”
He adds, “It’s mayhem on the road. But the dogs get their stimulation on the road through the performances. They know that when the pre-show music starts, it’s time. And their favorite part of the show is afterward when they get to meet everyone. They are super-duper friendly. They love people more than anything.”
The “Puppy Pals” show is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Mizner Park Cultural Center, 201 W Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Tickets are $25 and $35. To order, call 844-672-2849 or go to MiznerParkCulturalCenter.com.