This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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Educated Sheep and Musical Pigs

18 March 2016

Sheep are silly.
Sheeps is sillier.
Trained Sheeps jumping over a flaming hurdle is just absurd.

But I'd probably pay money to see that.

I certainly paid 5 Euros to buy the postcard.

The image is a small reproduction of a poster for

Blaek Doblado
and his Flock of Trained Sheeps

Miss Doblado

A man in a long overcoat and tall hat stands next to wooden hurdle covered by a flaming arch. Six sheep wearing tiaras leap over it. On the other side stands a woman dressed in fancy pantaloons and holding a whip. Presumably it is Miss Doblado. A second scene below shows the man over a barrel as a ram bashes headlong into his butt. Miss Doblado looks amused.

Thrills and spills. Blaek Doblado's trained sheeps must have been a thousand laughs.

Someone, (Paul maybe?) thought Fräulein Hedwig Stede of Leipzig would enjoy this animal humor too, so he sent her the postcard from Oetzcsh-Gautzsch, a suburb of Leipzig, now called Markkleeberg, on 05 September 1903.

One hundred thirteen years later, that would be the end of the story for most people.
But my readers know that I can't help turning over any trivial image
to see what's on the other side.

It turns out there is quite a lot more to trained sheeps than you would think.
For one thing, they like to travel.

Paducah KY Evening Sun
12 September 1906

"Do animals reason?" is a question that has perplexed philosophers for ages, and was used to open a 1906 report in the Paducah, KY evening Sun on the trained animal displays appearing at the Barnum & Bailey Circus. There was Thompson's horses, both in harness and at liberty. Mlle. Lordy's dogs, canine actors of extraordinary intelligence. Winston's sea-lions, who could climb ladders and turn somersaults. 

And the Doblado troupe of trained sheep, a distinct novelty.  Not to mention two ponies, an elephant and a pair of dogs.

Three years after appearing in Germany, Blaek Doblado managed to bring his sheeps over to America. Did they travel first class or steerage?


Louisville KY Courier Journal
20 October 1907

The following year during the week of October 20, 1907, The Hopkins Theater of Louisville, Kentucky included Doblado's Sheep on its list of Continuous Vaudeville, tickets 10-20-30¢. No Higher.  The management provided this helpful description:

Doblado's Sheep
We Have Offered About Everything in the
Trained-Animal Line Excepting Sheep
Now We Have Imported a Lot of
the Wool-bearing Creatures
That Perform Stunts That
Will Amaze You.

The sheep followed the headliner Julius Steger & Co. performing his own musical dramatic play, "The Fifth Commandment", (Honor Thy Father and Mother); the 3–Sisters Urma–3, a charming trapeze act from old Europe – Not a bit like the ones you are thinking about.; and Charles Brown, a bundle of joyous melange of mirth, music, and melodious melody.

After the theater porter had swept the stage of burnt wool, Daisy Leon sang some attractive songs. Delbaugh & Meyer demonstrated the most difficult acrobatic feats. Harry Beaumont, a clever English magician set the audience a-going with his palmist tricks. He was followed by Kohler & Victoria, singers, talkers, and character comediennes. The ironically named Hardings were next, a musical pair with the male member playing the piano as only artists can, and the girlie — well, just wait and see her. Olive Rosen & Co. presented a Problem Play to excite laughter and drive dull care away. Edwin Lewis did an Entertaining Specialty, and Riley & Gannon represented Ireland in the comedy field.

To top it off there were Kinodrome Motion Pictures worth seeing, not the five-cent sort either. And for an Xtra! treat you could see Geo. Wilson of "Waltz Him Again" fame, the minstrel man who reminds you of old times when burnt cork was the emblem of the kings of Momus. He was one of them – almost two.


Louisville KY Courier Journal
24 June 1908

Perhaps Kentucky's bluegrass appealed to Doblado's sheep, as they returned to Louisville in the summer of 1908 to perform at the Fontaine Ferry Amusement Park. In the run up to the July 4th festivities, the park hired a pyrotechnic expert from Brooklyn, Mr. Ernest G. Dawson, to prepare a fireworks display. One morning in June, Dawson went down to a field along the river to stake out his explosive exhibit. There he encountered Prof. Doblado's sheep grazing in the same field. The animal act now included a goat, who was then testing himself against the ram.

The two animals became distracted by Dawson's activity and took exception to his presence. They set off for a package of fireworks Dawson had brought that was wrapped in red paper. The ram hooked it first with his horns, and then the goat spied the bundle on the ground and attacked it too. His horns collided with a percussive cap inside the package, and Boom, a bomb went off!

"A friendly and nearby tree is the only thing that saved me," remarked Mr. Dawson.     

I don't make this stuff up.
You can read the full story here
as reported by the Louisville Courier Journal.


Marion OH Daily Mirror
11 March 1909

Beginning in 1906, Doblado's trained sheep toured America for several years, jumping hurdles in theaters and fairgrounds across Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The act involved anywhere from 8 to 12 sheeps, a goat with a headache, and a clown named Steve Miaco who was now a partner to the act. According to one newspaper account, his costume was evidently made in a mattress factory, as he endured an assault by Doblado's battering ram at every show. 

By 1909, the ram, whose name was Gustavo, had achieved enough celebrity to merit a photograph next to Prof. Doblado. The Marion, OH Daily Mirror published a photo of the ram and his master when they were scheduled to play at a local vaudeville theater. Gustavo's lineage was described as being from a breed of Spanish Pyrenees Mountain sheep. One newspaper calculated that he smashed into Miaco the clown's posterior 48 times a week, including matinees.   


But from time to time every act needs freshening up
in order to keep the audiences entertained.
Gustavo was about to acquire a sidekick.

A musical pig.

Anaconda MT Standard
20 June 1909

No vaudeville act could call itself the best unless it played in San Fransisco. But of course in 1909, the only practical way to get an animal act to the west coast was by train. It made good business sense to book shows along the way. One of the popular stops was the copper capital of the US, Anaconda, Montana. In June 1909, the Empire Theater of Anaconda welcomed the F.O.E, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, to nearby Butte, MT, with the headline act:

 Doblado's Trained Sheep and Pig. 
 Louie, the Clown Pig, Will Play the Bass Horn.

Like I said, I don't make this stuff up.

The show also included Doranto, a Chinese musician, the only artist in the world playing genuine Chinese musical instruments; John Buckley, an English Comedian singing, dancing, and talking; alongside The Lionells in their laughable comedy "The Silent Pardner."

To add even more novelty value for a 15¢ ticket, there was also:
 The Empirescope — Pictures That Will Not hurt Your Eyes.  

They played all week.

Anaconda MT Standard
20 June 1909

The Empire Theater considered itself a Family Theater too, I guess, as they ran a very large advert complete with photo.

The World's Greatest Wonder
Doblado's Trained Sheep.
A laugh from start to finish. The only
flock of trained sheep in the world.
“Louie,” a Trained Pig
The Only Brass Horn Player in the World

 This show is something altogether different than has ever been seen here before.

The advertisement provides a complete list of the tricks that Doblado's talented sheep would perform.
  1. Compliments
  2. Simultaneous jumping.
  3. Walking on knees.
  4. Zigzag march.
  5. Rolling ball.
  6. Dancing. with zigzag march.
  7. Cake walk.
  8. Three teeterers.
  9. Waltzing.
  10. Jumping through fire.
  11. Concluding with the butting ram,
    the greatest laugh producer in the world.
 The motion picture programme included:
  • "Legend of the Jew"
  • "Under Louis XIV"
  • "Holland in Winter"
  • "Ancient Egypt"

I know enough about animal husbandry to tell the difference between a sheep, a goat, and a pig. The flocks of fuzzy sheep I've met on the fields of the British Isles generally don't do much jumping. But sheep and goats descend from breeds that are capable of impressive agility as they clamber about on mountainous meadows, so I'm prepared to believe that sheep could be persuaded to jump over flaming hurdles. I can even imagine that with enough patience they could be trained to march and even dance. You don't have to sing to learn the steps to a waltz.  

But a pig playing a bass horn? I've known some porcine horn players, but never any musical pigs. It takes especially talented pig lips to master any brass instrument, much less a bass horn.

Doblado's educated sheep and musical pig, played San Fransisco and Oakland for a few weeks, and then headed back east to be in Gettysburg, PA by September 1909. The next year they headed south playing in Texas and Virginia. The last notice I found was for a county fair in late summer 1913 in Fayetteville, NC — Professor Doblado's Goats and Pigs. No mention of sheeps. Perhaps they were put out to pasture. 

No, they were only in training for more world tours.

Sydney Australia Morning Herald
07 April 1914

In April 1914, the Sydney, Australia Morning Herald announced The Wirth Bros.' Circus, The Greatest, Grandest, and Best Circus Company Ever Seen would give shows every evening at 8 o'clock under its new waterproof tents. In the middle of the Ginnettes Society of Equestriennes; Albert Toulouse, sensational balancer; Crotton and Skremka, classical gymnasts; the marvelous Flying Codonas aerialists; and Wezzan's Bedouin Arabs; was Doblado's Trained Sheep and Pigs.

Pigs plural.
Like a brass band of pigs.  

I don't make this stuff up.
I just report. You decide if its entertainment.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where sheeps may safely graze.


Thanks to a faithful reader from Down Under (see comments below)
I found the following clipping in the wonderful archives of the National Library of Australia
which offers a bit more detail on the circus life of Mr. Blaek Doblado
and his educated sheeps and musical pigs.

Like I said, I don't make this stuff up.


Warwick, Queensland Examiner and Times
08 July 1914

Black Doblado was twenty-five years ago a trainer of horses and dogs for show purposes.  After some successes the game began to appear commonplace. So many people had trained horses and dogs before that Doblado looked round for some new animal to practise upon. He tried deer, but the wild creatures refused to perform in spite of all his care and effort. He gave them up as a bad job and tried Spanish mountain sheep, with the result that he is now giving in connection with Wirth's circus about as remarkable an exhibition of animal cleverness as can be found in the world. 

He is the proprietor of another similar show now touring the United States but there is no other competitor in the field with a display of educated mutton. He shows six sheep – one of which, born on board ship performed in the tent on the evening of its first birthday, and a butting ram known as Buttinski which appears to be a compound of Jester rogue and faithful companion. The sheep play see-saw, jump hurdles, leap through hoops, waltz and go through all manner of antics. 

Louisa, the pig clown, adds to the gaiety of the performance and even undertakes the unpiglike task of blowing the euphonium. Doblado has been touring the world for seventeen years, and wherever he goes his sheep rouse enthusiastic wonder and the ram makes a hit, in fact quite a number of emphatic hits. Wirths open in Warwick on Tuesday, July 14.


Wendy said...

How many dog acts did we see on the Ed Sullivan Show? Was there ever a sheep act or a horn-playing pig? I don't think so. I wonder why no one picked up the baton. It seems sheep and pigs would have been more of a novelty for modern audiences.

Barbara Rogers said...

What a hoot...and a toot! And even a wooly fire jumping sheep or two! I've seen mountain goats, and probably mountain climbing sheep...but they weren't trained. Thanks for laughs!

Sharon said...

Really??????? Sheep are not very smart!

Karen S. said...

Bravo, you have such a talent of pulling your posts into our theme! Interesting as well.

Kristin said...

I wondered how music would appear but never would have thought of musical pigs!

Helen Killeen Bauch McHargue said...

Wouldn't we all love to see a show like these today? Maybe there's a market for one....but you'd
never find a pig with the appropriate lips. This was terrific fun to read. Thanks for another great post.

La Nightingail said...

Well shucks! I kept reading and waiting to see an actual photograph of a pig, or pigs, playing a horn. Loved the vision of pigs playing in a brass band. This post was a sheepish lotta fun!

Nancy said...

Who knew you'd find so much information about Doblado?! I love that last photo with the man and his sheep with huge horns. Thanks for sharing.
--Nancy. (ndmessier @,

Jo Featherston said...

Fantastic! I suppose there must have been a succession of trained sheep and/or goats, and also of Louies, to have toured around the world for 6 years. Whatever Mr Doblado's animal training secret was, he certainly made the most of it. If only there was a video clip :-)

Jo Featherston said...

I noticed from numerous articles on Trove in Australian newspapers that Mr Doblado had been touring for 17 years, abd that Louie had become Louisa.

Titania Staeheli said...

I have never liked performing animals. It is terrible when you actually see an animal cry. Animal acts were very popular but most of the time such cruel treatment. People generally did not think about that. At least to day there are some movements to prevent cruelty. Nevertheless an interesting take on the prompt. I was sure you would find and show a trumpet playing elephant.

Little Nell said...

Well, I’m just amazed that you paid so much for the postcard Mike. As I don’t collect them, I had no idea. As usual, though, you seemed to have got your money’s worth - as did all we Sepians!

Brett Payne said...

No comment on whether it's entertainment or not, but I do agree it's entirely appropriate for Sepia Saturday.


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