PBR: Top rodeo names, comedic dog act Muttley Crew at Civic Center Friday, Saturday

dminty@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 9, 2013 

The Professional Bull Riders Touring Pro Division stomps into the Columbus Civic Center Friday and Saturday with some well-know rodeo stars.

Current Built Ford Tough Series riders Austin Meier, who finished fifth in the world last year and former World Champion Mike Lee join Cody Nance and Chase Outlaw at Friday's event. Saturday they compete at the Chicago Invitational.

Veteran riders Sean Willingham, Skeeter Kingsolver, Ryan McConnel, Kasey Hayes and Reese Cates will be featured Friday and Saturday along with comedic canine act, Muttley Crew.

If you're a fan of "America's Got Talent" you may have seen these trickster dogs with The Coppertown Clown Bert Davis. The act made it to the show's third round in Las Vegas in 2010 before returning to the PBR to tour.

Davis has been entertaining rodeo audiences since 1974 when he was the youngest, at age 16, bullfighter in the nation.

The veteran entertainer, rodeo clown and barrelman now performs with his pack of rescue dogs. The act debuted in 1995 with three dogs. Thirteen dogs now travel with Davis and up to 10 perform at each show.

He and his wife Frannie train, house and love their mixed-breed clan, adopted from shelters all over the U.S.

"Not only are they my coworkers and my companions, they're our kids," he said.

The dogs are trained to do specific tricks, of course, but time is also spent making sure each canine is comfortable performing in front of a, hopefully, enthusiastic audience.

"It really depends on the dog... It takes 6 to 8 months before you think they are ready to be in the show and then a year to get them used to the music, crowd's roar and livestock," Davis said.

He thinks Tick has the most difficult job because he performs the mirror image of the other dogs' tricks. That made training difficult because Tick couldn't watch the other dogs.

"Usually senior dogs demonstrate while younger dogs watch," Davis explained.

Davis hopes to see more than cowboys attend the weekend's events.

"We've got really top-notch talent, bulls you've seen on TV and announcer Matt West is the best... Even if you've been to a rodeo before, Columbus hasn't seen this yet," he promised.

PBR

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Columbus Civic Center

Tickets: $12.50-42.50. Available at the Civic Center box office, www.ticketmaster.com and at 800-745-3000.

Of note: Family & Faith Night with fellowship, a horse-breaking demonstration and live music, will be after the Friday show. Saturday is military appreciation night. A portion of the event's proceeds will go to support local organizations for autistic children and their families.

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