The father-and-son dog trainers Richard and Nicholas Olate and their pack of canine compatriots are about to unleash some new tricks.
The Olate Dogs, which leaped into the national spotlight five years ago by winning the top $1-million prize on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” are Port Washington-bound. Known for their backflipping, rope jumping, scooter riding antics, the Olates’ trained poodles, labradoodles, schnoodles and Yorkiepoos also show Rockette-like precision dancing across the stage in a canine conga line.
But the show coming to Landmark on Main Street features new material never seen on TV, such as a doggy fashion show skit.
“We have dogs dressed as a couple of famous people like Elvis and Batman, and we have a lot of really pretty and elegant costumes,” Nicholas Olate says in a telephone interview from Indianapolis. In another skit, a dog dressed as a janitor comes out to clean the stage during a pause in the action.
A DOG ACT IS BORN
Richard Olate, a second-generation circus performer, grew up in poverty in Santiago, Chile, his son says. He began training stray dogs he found on the street and eventually developed a successful family dog act.
Since winning “America’s Got Talent,” the Olates have been traveling 10 1⁄2 months a year from their home base on 17 acres of open land in Texas. The act often is seen at halftime shows at NCAA and National Basketball Association games.
TRAINING RESCUE ANIMALS
Half of the 10 dogs currently performing are animals rescued from shelters in the United States and in Chile. (The troupe includes five dogs that are either retired or in training.)
“My dad loves dogs regardless of where they come from, although for the past few years we’ve tried to make it strictly rescue dogs because it’s so sad that they don’t get to have a home,” Nicholas explains.
The Olates prefer to work with poodles and poodle mixes because “poodles are a lot more relaxed and agile” than other dog breeds, he adds.
The star of the current show is Lili, an 18-pound, 8-year-old black and white Labradoodle he describes as “all hair.”
“She [Lili] does a lot of the stronger tricks, the ‘wow’ tricks,” Nicholas says. The peppy pooch’s repertoire includes handstands, jumping rope and a series of back flips worthy of an Olympic gymnast.
Other canine cast members include a 5-year-old Yorkiepoo named Loca. Besides shaking her tail as the third dog in the conga line, Loca jumps on a scooter driven by Toby, a 3-year-old poodle mix.
HUMAN TRICKS, TOO
The show also features Nicholas singing and juggling, and his wife, Yasmin, riding a unicycle. It ends with a repeat of tricks from “America’s Got Talent,” and a reminder that audience members’ pets may also have untapped talent.
“I let them know the way that we train the dogs, and that it’s really stuff that anybody could do with a lot of time and effort, a lot of patience, positive reinforcement, and hugging and kissing.”
Adds Nicholas: “Dogs are really smart. They are way smarter than people give them credit for.”
The Olate Dogs
WHEN | WHERE Saturday, Jan. 14, 2 p.m., Jeanne Rimsky Theater at Landmark on Main Street, 232 Main St., Port Washington
INFO 516-767-6444, landmarkonmainstreet.org
ADMISSION $25 (show is sold out, check for availability)