“Muttallica” show gives pound pups chance to shine

The Pellissippi State Hot Air Balloon Festival will feature a lot of unique entertainment opportunities for families, and one of the biggest crowd-pleasers is likely to be “Muttallica”a show of canine agility from Ultimate Canines.

Ultimate Canines, a traveling show that features a team of 14 rescued dogs performing high jumps, agility races, disc catches and, yes, doggy dancing.

The sixth-annual Pellissippi State Hot Air Balloon Festival is slated to take place Sept. 25 and 26 on the Pellissippi Campus of Pellissippi State Community College on Hardin Valley Road.

The festival, a college fundraiser supporting student enrichment opportunities through the Pellissippi State Foundation, brings together balloonists from around the country for two days of tethered balloon rides and evening balloon glows. Also featured are arts and crafts and food vendors, live music and children’s activities. It’s no wonder the festival is ranked by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for September 2009.

For Tom and Mary Clements, owners of Ultimate Canines, the festival is one stop on their summer circuit tour. Having performed at more than 250 venues during the past five years, the couple has “seen and done it all.” At every show, the two take the opportunity to share their passion for responsible pet ownership and animal rescue organizations.

“These are not your typical high-breed, high-priced pups,” said Tom. “The ‘Ultimutts’ are dogs found on the street, rescued from pounds, shelters, humane societies, or just dumped on our steps. We love to educate the public on responsible pet adoption and what they too can achieve with their own pups if they spend some quality time with them.”

Tom and Mary Clements began the business five years ago after staging a few performances for fun with their adopted border collie, who, as Tom put it, “needed something to do.”

Based in Wheatland, Mo., the couple travels to festivals, fairs and special events in their ‘37 Raptor Toyhauler RV … along with the team of 14 canines.

Up to nine of the dogs will be featured in any one show, allowing the couple to offer up to three performances per day showcasing different dogs. Always changing, this year’s show is entitled “Muttallica.” It is the second time the Ultimate Canines have performed at the Pellissippi State Hot Air Balloon Festival.

After every performance is the crowd-favorite “Pat and Chat,” where the furry stars (and their handlers) interact with fans. For Tom, a former deputy sheriff, and Mary, who served as a job coach for the mentally disabled, it’s a special chance to meet the people for whom they perform.

Festival hours are 4-9:30 p.m. on the 25th and noon-9:30 on the 26th. Admission is $10 per day per vehicle. Admission is $5 per day per spectator for those who choose to park off site and walk onto the campus. Some activities, including the tethered balloon rides, have on-site fees. For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/balloons or call 865-694-6400.

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