For as long as I’ve seen the Midnight Circus, Chicago’s homegrown circus, I think they’ve always had a dog in the act. It’s been their family dog, which makes great sense, seeing how the Midnight Circus is a family affair-. Jeff Jenkins and his wife Julie headline and ringmaster the show, while their two children perform in it. It makes sense that their dog would also be in it. In fact, if they had a parakeet, I’d expect that bird to somehow make an appearance. (Parakeets did in fact make an appearance in one of their shows, but I don’t think it was their personal parakeet.)
Their family dog has always been a pit bull, and its always been a rescue. Their dogs have gone on to star in the circus, and even perform at half-time for the Bulls!
Here’s a video of one of their dogs Lola doing her amazing work. This video is from 2013.
During the circus season, Jeff is working on producing and performing the show, and being a dad and raising his kids, but during the off-season, he’s been battling a social evil- dogfighting. He’s not going around trying to stop dogfights in their tracks- he’s working with pit-bull owners to train them to be better parents to their dogs.
With the help of the Humane League, and a non-profit he’s helped to start (Found Training Center), he’s been going into areas of South Chicago to help train dog owners.
The training is free, and the owners learn a skill that helps them with their dogs, and in the process battles dog-fighting where it stands. As he explains in the video below, if you get to the owners of the dogs, you have a chance to change their social behavior. He’s using his parenting and dog-training skills to affect change. And changing their behavior is what is going to change the culture of dog-fighting in Chicago and beyond.
Watch this video from the Humane Society, and you can see the great and important social work that Jeff is doing, both with the dogs, and their owners. It’s inspiring.
My favorite quote from the video is a guy who says “I saw my son looking at me, thinking if my dad can have dog fights, I can do it. And I don’t want my son to have nothing to do with what I do on these streets.”
Parenting through dog-training!
Find out more about the Humane Society‘s bid to end dogfighting
Find out more about the Midnight Circus and their Canine Stars
Other Chicago-based Pitbull Rescue: