Aldergrove trainer-and-dog duo performed a heartfelt routine last month, paying tribute to those afflicted by bipolar disorder.
In early May, Ray Underwood and his border collie, Magic, flew to Los Angeles to audition for America’s Got Talent (AGT).
“I was more excited than nervous. I’m used to performances for thousands, but knowing that 50,000 million will watch it eventually” was exhilarating, Underwood said.
Out of the 40,000 auditions that hit the AGT stage, the pair’s performance ranked in the top 222.
There’s no telling how far the pair made it in the competition – as of yet.
“Working with a dog makes it nerve wracking because you never know if they’ll just stop, or make a mistake,” the trainer elaborated.
Underwood and his wife Shannon, as well as their two dogs, have lived in Aldergrove for eight years – they run Underwood’s Dog Obedience which offers canine skills-training classes for dogs and their owners.
Underwood has trained canines professionally for four decades now. He started when he was a child in London, England.
“It’s not work for me – my whole life I’ve never had a job yet,” he remarked.
Underwood trained the seven-year-old collie, Magic, since she was a puppy.
The trainer and his wife have been married for 32 years, a journey that has been affected by Shannon’s diagnosis – rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.
“A lot of my stage routines are personal to me,” Underwood said – including the one he choreographed for AGT, which takes viewers through the journey of him supporting Shannon through bipolar.
“The routine shows the cycle of the disorder – from deep depression to coming out of it and feeling okay for awhile,” Underwood said, then eventually going back to anguish.
The freestyle obedience routine involves complex choreography and tricks carried out by Magic and dance moves performed by Underwood.
“It had to get so bad before we could get a referral for her,” Underwood said about his wife’s care.
Shannon was misdiagnosed numerous times by medical professionals. It took more than a decade for her to acquire a referral for a local psychiatrist, hubby added.
“She goes through these emotional cycles at an accelerated rate,” Underwood explained.
His wife’s condition began to stabilize after being put on the right medication.
“It makes things easier,” he said.
The duo’s debut AGT audition is scheduled to air within the next few weeks.