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Pets, humans get silly for ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ fame

jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Let’s get this straight – it’s a stretch to label the pet tricks performed by 6-year-old Noodles, the “100 percent mutt,” as stupid.

Picking up a dime or even a quarter with his teeth and plunking them into a piggy bank or balancing himself on all four paws on a basketball stuck in a dog bowl doesn’t exactly display a low level of intelligence.

Yet some might wonder about Noodles’ owners, Lori Buerger and Evan Singer. The couple drove 14 hours from Chicago to audition their dog in Charlotte on Saturday for a spot in the final “Stupid Pet Tricks” segment on “Late Show with David Letterman” before Letterman retires in May.

They were among four acts – two pet and two human – auditioning for the show’s pet tricks and “Stupid Human Tricks” segments at the Southern Spring Home & Garden Show at Charlotte’s Park Expo and Conference Center. It was emceed by WBTV reporter Kristen Hampton.

“We saw that Letterman is retiring soon and we thought this was our last chance – so we decided to seize the opportunity,” Buerger said.

Soap bubble fun, dog love

They were the last of the four acts. Up first was Charlotte resident Steve Langley and his Soap Bubble Circus, using a giant wand dipped into a ring of soap suds that creates a soap bubble tube as he raises the wand.

Langley put 3-year-old Julia Hendricks inside that tube, and she promptly stabbed at the bubble and popped it. Then he put himself inside a tube – as WBTV marketing staffer Brian Baltosiewich raised the wand – and played paddle ball.

He’s also juggled inside the shaft, but thought paddle balling would give it the twist that might catch Letterman’s producers at the audition.

Next up, Dorothy Wiland of Charlotte brought Oliver, a large 4-year-old Sheltie, and Alexander, a much smaller Sheltie she’d rescued a year ago, to the stage.

She ordered both to sit, then asked Oliver who his BFF (best friend forever) is. Oli took a swipe at Alexander, then Alex ran a figure-8 around Wiland’s feet and hurdled over Oliver. After another figure-8, the smaller dog ran under Oliver.

Vocal acrobatics, too

Then Sherman Burris of Sharon, S.C., brought his many voices to the stage. He could imitate a howling zebra being pursued by a “predator,” a tiger and Dr. Claw, chief antagonist of Inspector Gadget.

“I’ll get you next time Gadget,” Burris said in Claw’s voice. “Next time.”

John Klarl, the stupid tricks segment producer for the Letterman show, liked what he saw.

“It was impressive,” Klarl said. “We’re always looking for something that has a silly twist or element of surprise.”

He seemed to be most impressed with Noodles and that his owners drove 14 hours to get there.

Buerger and Singer adopted the pooch when he was about 5 1/2 from a Chicago animal shelter. The two had never trained a dog and checked out how-to books at the library.

Noodles learned quickly.

“He was really responsive to everything we taught him,” Buerger said. “At first it was simple stuff: Sit. Lay down. Roll over or high five. Then we moved on to much more complicated stuff.”

Such as catching plastic rings Singer tossed in the air, not with his mouth – but his head, letting the rings fall around his neck. Noodles, a certified therapy dog, also prayed for the crowd – and for Letterman to choose him to be on the show.

Even if he’s not, Buerger and Singer said their pet is special.

“He proves that any dog at the shelter can be a star, if you devote the love and time to them,” she said. “So we drove 14 hours to take a chance. Besides Noodles loves road trips – he slept most of the way.

“We didn’t let him drive this time.”

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