Pompeyo’s performance shares message about dog adoption and care | News
GOSHEN – Ask me what I did on Tuesday, and probably the first thing I’ll tell you is, “I saw a dog in a Superman cape jump off a ladder into a man’s arms.”
Honestly, this was probably one of the best times of my week so far: responsible for covering the Pompeyo family dog show at the Elkhart County Fair.
Imagine me there. I put on my sunglasses, the camera is ready, a notepad in my lap, a supply of lenses in force – a total journalist face, you know? I was even able to keep my cool as the Pompeios made the crowd cheer and sing for one of their star dogs. “Come on, my sugar, come on! Go for it, my sugar, go for it! they cheered in a buildup of big bangs from the poodle.
Yet, I must admit, I barely kept my cool when the show took off. Because, of course, I was tapping my foot while “Cotton-Eyed Joe” was playing as part of the soundtrack. Of course, I held my breath as the little dog in Superman’s cloak climbed a ladder – what? Seven, eight feet tall? I really ask – and then I jumped off a small platform into Jorge Pompeyo’s arms.
And sure enough, I smiled as the dogs on the show crawled on their hind legs in their version of a conga line during climax.
The family – Jorge, his wife Natalya and their daughters Katerina and Isabella – conducted the act with around seven dogs in their Wild West-themed arena at the fairgrounds, near the intersection of Dahlia Lane and Oak Street, right next to the dog and building cats.
The real hook, for me, was when the Pompeios declared early on that the dogs they featured had been adopted from animal shelters.
“Every dog can be a star,” Jorge said.
I caught up with him and Natalya after the midday performance, and we chatted in the shade of their RV behind the arena.
The two explained why working with adopted dogs is fundamental to their show.
“Someone has to help them,” Natalya said. “Who else can help them?” We try to send as many positive messages as, “Every dog can be trained. Every dog can be part of the family. You just need a special way to get there.
It is a traveling act, with the family having performed in many states over the past 12 years. And on the road, Jorge and Natalya said they adopted dogs while visiting shelters at various stops. There were even times when people brought animals to sites where they performed.
“They only bring dogs if they can’t handle the dogs, they think it’s too much energy and they just don’t have the time,” Natalya said. “Wherever we go, we try to visit shelters and see the papers with those who can’t handle the dogs, so we try to help those.”
Now you might be wondering how the Pompeo got to this point where they have dogs literally jumping through hoops at the fair. Or, maybe you’re just waiting and seeing if I’m about to reveal what the great Sugar Waterfall was. Ohhhhh… Okay, I’ll tell you.
The Pompey met while working as circus performers. Jorge was a daredevil, he said, doing motorcycle and high-flying acts, he said. Natalya was a gymnast and an acrobat.
Natalya continued to perform while pregnant with their first child. But, according to their website, Jorge was involved in an accident during an act. Although he was not injured, the couple decided to stay anchored for their family. So they found a new niche in training dogs to play in a show.
“We decided why do we want to risk our lives if we can do something better, and we can do something for the dogs,” Jorge said.
The act was also something the Pompeios could engage their children in as they grew older, both helping to train dogs and playing in the show.
Their show gained national attention when they appeared in the 12th season of “America’s Got Talent” in 2017 and reached the semi-finals. Since then, Jorge has said the dog show was featured on the Nickelodeon show “Unleashed” last year, as well as on Spanish-language networks like Telemundo and Univision.
When not on the road, the Pompeyos are based in Bradenton, Florida, where Natalya said the family has 28 dogs, which apparently includes foster dogs. They also now have a business there, AAA Pet Resort, which provides boarding and dog care services.
It takes us back to that week when Jorge said the family are making their Hoosier State debut here in Elkhart County.
“We are happy to be here,” said Jorge. “First time doing fairs in Indiana. “
As for Sugar’s big hit, well… You can see it during the Pompey performances until the end of the week, with three performances each day at noon, 4pm and 6pm.
If you can’t, here’s a look at what this dog can do.