Dog jumps through hoops to get laughs

Storyteller Denise Gard rescued Sienna, a border collie, 3½ years ago. Now the two travel to entertain children. Enlarge photo

Mark Reis/The (Colorado Springs) Gazette

Storyteller Denise Gard rescued Sienna, a border collie, 3½ years ago. Now the two travel to entertain children.

COLORADO SPRINGS (AP) – Once upon a time, there was an emaciated dog who was kept in a crate for such long hours that she could not run very far. She was not “show quality” because she was missing a tooth, so she was ignored.

But a fairy godmother named Denise Gard, a professional storyteller, rescued the border collie 3½ years ago and named her Sienna, after a favorite Crayon color.

Earlier this month Sienna showed that she was show quality after all – a star performer at the Briargate branch library’s story time. Her antics had dozens of kids entranced.

The event was one of several the Pikes Peak Library District had for spring break to keep kids occupied and mothers sane.

Amie Houser brought six kids to the program, two of them nieces.

“I’ve been trying to find different things for them to do. Yesterday, we ... ,” she said, pausing. “What did we do? It’s a blur. Oh, yeah, we had a picnic. Tomorrow it’s Garden of the Gods.”

But for the moment, they were all laughing and applauding as Gard and Sienna acted out the book Jack and the Giant, a Story Full of Beans.

The border collie is a bit of a diva. She arrived with her red fur shiny and fluffy after receiving a spa-like brushing with, of course, waterless shampoo that prevents dryness. She was wearing her favorite red bandana. And she received the salary she always demands – tiny pieces of P-nutty Oven Baked Dog Biscuits.

But she graciously didn’t mind being upstaged by children from the audience, who got to participate in the story.

Gard gave the kids a quick lesson in dog care, telling them to spend lots of play time with them, and noting that there were books in the library about dog care and training.

“When I first got her, I took her out for a run and she began whimpering, and we stopped because her paws hurt because she had been caged,” Gard said. “But now, she can run farther than I can.”

Sienna, 5, loves exercise so much that they attend running clubs around town, including Jack Quinn’s and Salsa Brava.

Gard has been a professional storyteller for 14 years. She started out in the children’s section of the Pikes Peak Library. The two often visit assisted-living residences and birthday parties. Sienna sometimes blogs on their website,

Sienna played dead, rolled over and danced. At one point, the audience thought she was going to jump through a hoop, but to much laughter, she rolled under it. But her best role, said Gard, was last summer when the dog “fainted” on cue when a “giant” breathed on her.

At the end of the show, everyone lined up to pet Sienna. The event left some kids wanting to train their pets.

Kayla Weller, 5, was impressed. “My dog Stella doesn’t do tricks. I have two hula hoops. I would like her to jump in them.”

Ryder Kerr, 6, noted, “I have a kitty, but she is too tired to do that.”

At home, Sienna is very much the ham.

When Gard asks her “Do you want to do a show?” her ears perk up.

When she asks “Do you want to be a star?” the border collie does a little dance.

Sienna pouts whenever Gard goes off to do a workshop without her.

“When I get back she gives me THE LOOK. Why didn’t I get to go?”

But on most days Sienna, gets to entertain others – proof that there is a happily ever after.