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Happy Tail: From puppy mill rescue to star spokesdog



Learn about Dawn’s dog troupe, The Comedy Canines, on her Web site.

Dawn Goehring’s life has gone to the dogs. She and her troupe of 14 pooches, mostly former shelter dogs, perform at the Comedy Barn in Pigeon Forge, TN, six nights a week during tourist season.

The dogs skateboard, walk tightropes and hop over hurdles, things you don’t expect a dog to be able to do. The stage is a flurry of amazing activity.

For years, Miss Ellie, a Chinese Crested, was the spokesdog for the troupe, but at almost 17, she was ready for retirement, so Dawn began looking for a dog with star quality to step in.


Read Dawn and Possum’s Happy Tail in Dawn’s own words.

When someone emailed her a Petfinder listing, she took a look. What she saw was a little Chinese Crested who had been rescued from a hoarder.

The dog, Possum, had been brought to a city shelter, but no one had stepped up to adopt her, so Naked K9 & Small Dog Rescue in Louisville, KY, pulled her from the shelter and gave her a second chance to find a new life. All of her teeth had to be pulled, and she had skin problems, but the rescue group took care of her.

Dawn thought little Possom was perfect, and the dog joined the troupe. When not performing, Dawn and her dogs visit schools to teach pet responsibility and bite prevention.

To celebrate Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, Dawn’s employer let her send 700 Comedy Barn free-ticket vouchers to more than 20 animal shelters in eight states to give to new adopters. And dogs were welcome to attend the show!

“Next year, we plan on doing one show, one day and hope to get over 300 adopted dogs and their owners to the show,” Dawn says. “It should be a blast!”

The Comedy Canines have raised approximately $35,000 for animal welfare, and in honor of Miss Ellie, who died in June, Dawn has a new goal: to raise a million dollars to help build a new animal shelter in Sevier County, TN. (Miss Ellie’s Web site is

Dawn and her dogs are leaders of the pack, making a difference for dogs.

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Blind dog brings together Peke pals

Rescue dog gives her adopter a new “leash” on life

Amazing before & after pics: Dudley was sick, sad and dirty

Former shelter dog turns model for new kids’ bike

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