Tricky the

I\ 1955 David was walking past Palmers, a pe t shop in Camden Town, London, when he spied a litter of beautiful puppies in the window. One, a tiny cute black and ran dog, caught his attention and he went in to buy it. Unfortunately it had already been reserved by a newly married couple who said they would collect it later that afternoon. David was disappointed but the manager of Palmer's was an old friend and told him to come back later. Who knows, maybe the couple would change their mind.

David spent the next two hours walking around Camden Town, hoping that something would change the couple's minds. When he returned to the shop he was delighted to discover that his wish had come true. The newly weds couldn't take the little dog. Pets weren't allowed at their lodgings.

David bought the dog for £2 and named him Tricky. Within four months Tricky had made his first television appearance and more than lived up to his name. The show was Variety Bandbox hosted by the famous orchestra leader Eric Robinson whose daughter Vivienne later married magician David Nixon.

On the show David produced a live rabbit. He claimed it was specially trained in the musical arts and to prove it he attached tiny cymbals to its paws and then placed it into a cage. The front was open and the rabbit could be seen inside. The band played David's signature tune, April in Portugal, and the rabbit played along by crashing the cymbals in time to the music. It was very amusing.

When he placed the rabbit inside the cage David moved a hidden flap and switched the animal for an identical looking mechanical toy. It played the cymbals and the band, hav ing rehearsed the routine, followed its tempo, playing April in Portugal'to the rabbit's steady but slow pace.

After the rabbit's performance David said, "Television is becoming so popular that radio is dying out. In fact it's going to the dogs." He placed a cover (resembling an old fashioned radio) over the cage for a moment and immediately lifted it. The rabbit changed instantly into a small dog. It was Tricky making his television debut.

David introduced the dog saying, "He is only four months old and I have been very

David with Tricky.

cruel. I've not fed him today and he's very hungry." He put Tricky on a small card table and placed a bowl of his favourite food in front of him. "It's a mixture of meat and biscuits and he loves it. But he won't eat until you think of a command. Let me show you. In fact he's the only mindreading dog in the world."

Eric Robinson came out to join David who showed him some cards each with a different phrase on it such as 'Eat your dinner', "Get your food', 'Grub's up', 'Enjoy it' and so on. "What I want you to do Eric is go through these, think of one of them and write it on the board. Don't show me and particularly don't show it to Tricky."

Eric did as instructed and wrote the phrase on a nearby blackboard, keeping it a secret from everyone, especially the dog.

David asked him to read out the phrases in any order he liked and promised that Tricky would know which he was thinking of. Disbelieving, Eric did as instructed, calling out, "Fetch it, Have your Dinner, Enjoy it. Grub's up." And as soon as "Grub's Up" was spoken. Tricky ran to the bowl and started to eat. The blackboard was turned around. On it Eric had written 'Grub's up.'

Tricky was an incredibly charming and intelligent little dog. David called him a "thoroughbred mongrel," and he got a lor of letters asking whether he was really only four months old. The press was also interested and Tricky claimed more than his fair share of newspaper publicity. What made the dog's antics even more baffling was that David had combined animal training with his own magic to produce effects that no other animal trainer thought possible. The routine with the cards is a good example and the training process started when Tricky was only a few days old.

David says, "It's quite easy to train a dog not to eat or do anything until you tell it to. You take a pup and put him in front of its food and every time it tries to go to it you gently pull him back and say, 'No!' When you want him to eat you say, 'Grub's Up,' and you let him go and eat. You can use any command. The intonation of the sound is more important than the actual words."

For the effect to work David had only to force the 'Grub's up' card on Eric Robinson and Tricky did the rest.

David had always had a great interest in training animals having worked with many of them on the music halls and circuses. One such act was that of "Reg Russell and Susie." Susie was a dog that barked out numbers. On one occasion, at the Glasgow Empire, David was passing Reg's dressing room when he saw the door open. He looked in and saw Susie sitting on a chair. Curious, David called out a number, "Four," and to his utter amazement the dog barked four times. He tried again, "Two," and Susie barked twice. It was stunning. He had always thought that the act depended upon some kind of trick and yet here was the dog barking the exact number he had asked for.

He was about to try a third time when Reg appeared behind him and asked what he was up to. David apologised and told him he always thought it was a trick, that Reg signalled the dog or something like that.

"Of course it's a trick," said Reg, "But you mustn't do it like that. Whenever she's successful I always give her a piece of raw meat to lubricate her throat. Otherwise it gets sore." Reg explained more of the act, which served to deepen his interest in the possibilities of animal magic.

Tricky also learned to bark out numbers. David would extend some fingers and Tricky would bark the correct number. Or David would write a number on a board and Tricky would bark it out. Soon Tricky became part of a double act. David using his techniques to discover thought-of numbers and then letting Tricky reveal them with a series of woofs.

There was also the opportunity for comedy:

"What's two and two?" asked David. Tricky barked four times.

"Add your tail." 'Tricky barked five times.

"Now subtract your eyes." Three woofs from Tricky.

"How many biscuits do you want?" Tricky barked continuously until David called stop.

"Alright, alright—and how many arc you going to get?" A single plaintiv e woof from

Tricky!

The recognised method is that the dog intently watches its master and barks until it sees him relax. Dogs can be incredibly sensitiv e and there were times when David was sure that Tricky wasn't even paying attention and yet he would always bark out the number that was required. "Perhaps you relax without noticing it," says David.

The close bond between clog and master might be accounted for by the fact that they travelled everywhere together. When he was just a tiny pup he would sir in David's top pocket at the cinema. As Tricky got older he rode with him on his scooter, his front paws resting on the handlebars. When driv ing the car David would open the window and say, "Tricky run." The dog would leap out and run along the pavement for several hundred yards and then leap back in when the door was opened.

In another routine David displayed a large box containing twenty or thirty small objects; balls, bones, toys, socks, gloves, hats etc and even a magic wand. He also showed some cards, each one bore a picture of one of the objects.

Three people from the audience were asked to choose a picture each and Tricky would dive into the box and pull out the correct object whether it was a stick, sock, ball or whatever. It was a very puzzling and entertaining routine and another example of how David was combining the principles of magic and animal training. The cards were forced. They had to be as Tricky had been trained to go into the box and pick out the same three force objects, one after the other, always in the same order.

The training for this routine began as a game. Tricky was placed outside the room and David would hide his favourite plaything, a ball. On opening the door to the room Tricky would rush in, sniffing behind bookcases, under tables and cushions, until the ball was located. He'd bring it to David and receive well-deserved praise. The ball game mastered, David tried it with a second object, Tricky's hairbrush. First the ball would be hidden and Tricky would retrieve it. Then the brush would be hidden and he'd find that too. Finally, a couple of months later, a third object was used. Tricky always found one object after the other and in each case the command to locate them was the same, "Tricky, concentrate and fetch!" It was a routine that not only puzzled magicians but also other animal trainers who, not knowing the objects were forced, couldn't understand how the effect was achieved.

"I had lots of adventures with Tricky," says David, "Some of them were uncanny and I know sound highly improbable but they are true." In 1956 when David and Ruth were living near Swiss Cottage, he received a phone call from a friend who ran a coffee bar just off Bond Street in London's West End. "We've just had a dog walk in here and he looks exactly like

David and Ruth's wedding, with Tricky acting as the best man!

Tricky," he said.

"That's impossible," said David, "he's here." But Tricky had been known to escape from time to time. It was a garden flat and on more than one occasion he had left through an open door, worked his way through the fence and set off down Finchley Road. There was a butcher across the busy road who fed Tricky treats so that may have been the attraction. So far Tricky had always came back.

David put the phone down and went to look for Tricky. He wasn't anywhere to be seen. Not in the house, the garden or even at the butchers. So David drove down to the West End, several miles away, and, to his utter amazement, found Tricky in the coffee bar. But how did he get there?

The story got even more bizarre when reports came in from other friends. His secretary Jean said that she had seen Tricky "window shopping" in Oxford Street, which runs right past Bond Street, that very day. Another person said that they saw Tricky cross Finchley Road and go down into the Underground Station.

The obvious conclusion to be drawn from these sightings was that Tricky somehow got on an underground train at Finchley, hitched a lift into the West End and then made his way to the coffee bar, a place he had been to only once before. It seemed highly unlikely particularly as the dog would have had to change trains! 102 The Mind & Magic of David Berglas

"To this day I can't believe it," says David. "I've puzzled many people over the years but this is one story that puzzles me. I'm not putting any supernatural explanation on it, and I'm not even ruling out a prank played by friends. I'm just saying that I have no idea how he got there. It was the best stunt Tricky ever did. He certainly fooled me."

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