Hero the “Super Collie” wowed the world with his performances on America’s Got Talent, and he’s still turning heads everywhere he goes!
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a “Super Collie”! Meet Hero, one of the world’s most famous canines. Born on a farm in Peterborough, Ontario, this sweet pup boasts a story very similar to Clark Kent’s. From small beginnings, he’s become a beloved icon that fans across the globe recognize — and it all started when he was adopted by a young girl named Sara Carson.
Now an award-winning dog trainer, Sara decided she was ready to raise a puppy when she was17. She began her search locally, looking for adoptable border collies in her home town of North Bay, Ontario. A huge supporter of rescue, Sara was set on finding a homeless pup to adopt, but her applications were all denied due to her young age and lack of experience with herding breeds. But she knew she was ready, so she expanded her search to other communities. “I eventually tried looking on Kijiji and spotted Hero right away,” says Sara. The small black and white collie was the last puppy left in the litter, and Sara knew right away that he was for her.
Sara soon found that Hero was very playful. But she also quickly noticed that his joy de vivre was equally matched by a more serious, mature demeanor. “He always thought out his actions before doing them and learned very quickly,” she says. “I took Hero to puppy classes and he didn’t really enjoy playing with the other dogs. Instead, he waited until I told him what to do.” Before long, Hero’s sharp focus and eagerness to please inspired Sara to take his training beyond the basics. She began teaching him tricks, and he excelled.
Hero’s skill level very quickly went from excellent to extraordinary. Drawing on her background in agility training, Sara continued to teach him as many tricks and sports as he could handle – she even taught him to blow bubbles! Wowed by his talent, she began filming his “acts” to share on social media. To her surprise, his videos went viral.
“It started with a million views,” says Sara. “Very soon, some videos were being shared and hitting up to 25 million views!” As Hero’s love of performance grew, so did his fan base, until eventually he was recognized by the big guys.
In 2012, Sara and Hero were invited to appear on the Late Night Show with David Letterman. Hero was 14 months old at the time, and Sara still a teenager. “I didn’t watch Letterman — I just loved training my dog!” says Sara, adding that she and Hero had a wonderful time appearing on the show, and exploring NYC. Hero was the world’s first bubble-blowing dog and he performed the trick flawlessly on Letterman’s stage. So flawlessly, in fact, that Sara’s phone began to ring off the hook. In the following years, the duo appeared on several news channels throughout North America, as well as The Marilyn Denis Show and MUCH. They also showed off their skills at several live events, and were featured in a clip on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Five years and countless performances later, Sara began dreaming of getting Hero onto a larger stage. He thrived in front of a crowd, and she knew he was capable of even bigger things. So when a call came from America’s Got Talent in early 2017, asking if they were interested in auditioning, she was quick to agree.
She and Hero needed to prepare a handful of different acts, which meant learning a lot more tricks. It also meant adding more dogs to the team. Her two other border collies, Marvel and Loki, joined Hero and Sara on the America’s Got Talent stage once the duo had progressed to the show’s quarter-finals – and the crowd went wild.
Sara and her “Super Collies” subsequently moved on to the semi-finals, where Loki once again joined them onstage. Their performance garnered a standing ovation from all the judges, and a ticket to the final round. Competing for a chance to win a million dollars, the “Super Collies” brought their A-game and dazzled the audience with dock diving, agility –and, of course, tricks! “Hero and I placed fifth overall out of almost 600,000 other acts,” says Sara. “It was the biggest adventure we have ever been on and I truly can’t believe it happened.”
So how did it happen, exactly? Sara credits Hero’s talent to positive training. “All the tricks you see my dogs perform have been taught using positive reinforcement,” she says. “I find what works best as a motivator for the dog and use that to teach each behavior. It’s all about rewarding them and showing them that training is really all about fun!”
All the tricks Hero performs were taught using positive reinforcement.
Sara now teaches positive training workshops around the globe, and recently released a mobile app called Puppr to help pet parents train their canine companions. It offers step-by-step instructions on how to teach basic behaviors and advanced circus tricks – all demonstrated by Hero himself!
After the America’s Got Talent finale last fall, Sara, Hero and the rest of their furry family permanently relocated to California. Today, they still travel across North America to perform at different events – but Sara makes sure Hero also has plenty of time to lounge. “After seven years of full-time travel and performing, it’s nice to settle down and focus on our little family,” she says. “When Hero was younger, we would go hiking and I would take him to the lake. He still enjoys those things, but now, being seven years old, he would much rather snuggle and watch a movie.” And though she continues to teach training workshops around the globe, Sara is more than happy to curl up next to her four-legged companion in between times. “Hero is a very wise old soul and I am just so thankful to have him in my life.”
Hero might not have super powers, but he is undoubtedly super special. In 2014, he became a service dog to help Sara overcome her mental health issues; he has since continued his training to assist with other medical conditions. And just this summer, Hero broke the Guinness World Records title for “Most tricks performed by a dog in one minute”, completing 49 tricks in 60 seconds. He has earned a multitude of agility titles and is savvy in dock diving, Frisbee and canine freestyle. Not to mention he knows hundreds of tricks, boasts hundreds of thousands of social media fans, and has performed in front of hundreds of millions of people. If that’s not super, nothing is!