Talented pets show off, Animal Planet vet gives advice

One of the famous "Frisbee Dogs," Angel, jumps 52 inches to reach a new world record for the highest jumping dog on Saturday. Photos by Haley Brooks O'Connell

Local pets pranced for animal talent scouts, and Dr. Robert Taylor of television’s “Emergency Vets” told about his famous clinic and his own pets at the Animal Planet extravaganza.

By Susan Reines/Special to The Malibu Times

Six-year-old Chase’s swinging, warbling rendition of The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” really gets his parrot Honey going. As Chase belted it out in front of a crowd of a few hundred Saturday at an animal expo hosted by the cable network Animal Planet, Honey bopped along in perfect rhythm, scoring the pair an interview with the producers of Animal Planet’s pet talent show, “Pet Star.” The producers made no promises, but the interview was an indication that Chase and Honey might be invited to compete for $25,000 on the next season of “Pet Star.”

A dog that sneezed on cue and fetched tissues from a box also scored the coveted interview.

Most of the “Pet Star” hopefuls traveled from surrounding communities, but locals represented with two young dog owners, Rasmus and Carmen, who got the crowd cheering-even if they did not win interviews for the show-as Rasmus’ terrier Shadow jumped through a hula-hoop and Carmen’s golden retriever Sunny picked up his leash and took himself for a walk.

Two orphaned dogs from local shelters found homes by the end of the expo, which featured Frisbee-playing dogs and live wild animals in addition to the talent show auditions.

Dr. Robert Taylor of the Animal Planet show “Emergency Vets” attended the expo to give pet advice and host games for kids. “Emergency Vets,” a reality show that follows vets at Taylor’s Denver animal hospital, has been on the air for nine seasons.

In an interview with the Times, Taylor said he doesn’t mind having a camera crew running after him at work. “The only reason I don’t like them in the operating room is because we always play music, but the songs are copyrighted, so we can’t play our tunes [when operations are being filmed,]” Taylor said. Operating room favorites are Dire Straits and Merle Haggard, but Taylor said he allows his employees to bring in any music they want and he will play everything at least once.

Taylor owns purebred black labs, due to a “love affair with the black lab breed,” but he supports local animal shelters. He recommends that dog owners discipline consistently, exercise their pets every day and use cage training to give dogs a “safe haven” analogous to the dens their ancestors used for protection.

In response to L.A. dog owners’ predilections for pampering pets with yoga classes and special dentists, Taylor said, “Those folks are certainly well-intentioned. The only people I judge are those who abuse animals or don’t believe that animals feel pain just like we do … when [a favorite dog] died I cried, but I don’t do yoga classes with them.”

A new Emergency Vets special will air in July, giving viewers their first glimpse of Taylor’s new and improved hospital.