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(aka: Magic for Mutts. aka: Prestidigitation for Pooches. aka: Disappearing things for Dogs)

By Lawrence Turner

We've all seen some kind of animal on stage being involved in a magic act: Doves, Dogs, Ducks, Chimpanzees and I'm sure you'll have seen something I haven't. But it's always aimed at humans! I feel that the animal community is missing out on the whole magical experience!

A few months ago I was doing the usual 'sitting around playing with a deck of cards' that a lot of us are so fond of doing. One of the family dogs came over, presumably to see if I was holding some food, so I thought I'd try and impress him with my card "skills". I sprung the deck of cards from one hand to the other. The reaction was not quite what I was expecting (I was expecting no reaction at all of course). The puppy started barking and jumped up to try and grab the deck in his mouth. 3 seconds later I've got another 2 dogs next to me barking away so I thought I'd try it again. Another card spring leads to more barking and attempts to grab the deck;

boxer dogs, it seems, make really bad hecklers!

Anyway, this got me thinking about what magic tricks a dog might fall for. Later on, after they'd calmed down a bit I thought I'd try something else. I called one of the dogs over and pointed at the playing card in my hand with the usual "What's this? What's this?" (A line guaranteed to grab any dog's full attention). Then I back-palmed it. "Where is it? Where is it?" and he looked confused and started hunting round the room for the card that had disappeared. I thought this was absolutely fantastic and could only wish I got similar reactions for performing the same sleight for human folk. So there we have it, dogs can be confused by vanishing a playing card. But what else can we do.?

I thought I'd test the intelligence of a Pomeranian. Holding a treat in my left hand, the dog sat patiently in front of me waiting for me to give it to him. I moved my right hand

I thought I'd test the intelligence of a Pomeranian. Holding a treat in my left hand, the dog sat patiently in front of me waiting for me to give it to him. I moved my right hand over to the treat and did a French Drop...

over to the treat and did a French Drop, moving my hand away closed as if it contained the treat. The dog went straight for my right hand. For the sake of accurate research I did the same thing another 4 or 5 times, each time he went for my right hand. And I thought dogs were supposed to have a good sense of smell!

I tried out some other things to see how dogs would react to them - Colour Changes: no reaction, although I think it was the snap sound of the snap change that prompted the dog to eat the playing card.

Ambitious Card Routine: went to reinvestigate the contents of the food bowl.

"Mind Reading": doing the mentalists hand on forehead and frowning bit only resulted in me getting licked in the face.

So there we have it, dogs are impressed by magic, in a way. So for anyone reading this who has a dog, grab some cards and see what they like. Try it out with other animals too. My "research" has only been with dogs, but who knows, maybe cats will really appreciate a good linking rings routine or a hamster might be able to select the only face down card in a face up deck. ms



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