Gail Mirabella, Hatboro Dog Lover, Quit Pharmaceutical Job to Join the Circus; Now She’s Bringing Her Performing Dogs to National Dog Show

jumping poodle
Image via Steve Donahue at the National Dog Show.
Gail Mirabella and one of her perfectly performing pooches.

Gail Mirabella of Hatboro had a job. Her pharmaceutical career paid the bills. But it took a career swap to dog training to truly ignite her heart. She’s now one of America’s most accomplished performance dog trainers.

From Pastime to Performance

While forging her career at Pfizer and later Schering-Plough, Mirabella started competing with her pets in frisbee dog competitions. She quickly reached the elite levels of the sport, making her way to multiple national and world championship competitions. That lead to a side-hustle contract with Purina and its touring team of canine performers, the Purina Incredible Dog Team.

Eventually, however, when her performance time started coming at a premium, it was time to make a decision.

She didn’t hesitate. Trading petri dishes for dog dishes, she followed the sage advice of her dad: “Life is short, do what you want to do.”

Image via Steve Donahue at the National Dog Show

The circus opportunity came about almost immediately. She learned that Ringling Brothers, the iconic touring entertainment attraction, was looking for a high-energy dog act.

One audition, and the deal was done.

“I had two weeks to buy a trailer, learn how to drive it, throw all my stuff in storage, and get down to Tallahassee, Fla.,” Mirabella recalled.

Her uncle thought it was crazy. But her former pharmaceutical colleagues admired her bravery.

As did her siblings.

“My brother and sister were also huge supporters of me joining the circus,” Mirabella remembers. “In the end, the decision to walk away from my pharmaceutical job was not that difficult.”

Soloing on the Road

Mirabella spent four years with the circus and developed her own touring show: Gail Mirabella and the Dynamo Dogs.

They now perform nationwide.

She’s had her fleet-footed furry friends at pro and college football game halftimes. And she’s wowed crowds at ground shows, stage shows, and assemblies.

Professional validation of her talents came this past Labor Day, when Mirabella and her dogs were inducted into the Ashley Whippet Hall of Fame in Naperville, Ill. It is the ultimate achievement in the frisbee-dog world.

Strutting for the Hometown Crowd

Since 2003, she has been a staple at the annual National Dog Show every November here in Montgomery County, in her own backyard.

Image via Dynamo

Mirabella and her capable canines will be doing frisbee and agility demonstrations on Nov. 20-21. They’ll be popping up (literally and figuratively) at multiple locations within the expansive Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, against the backdrop of the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s canine extravaganza.

“It’s been quite a ride,” Mirabella muses as she prepares for the show.

“The best part for the dogs and me is the response we get from the public. There’s no match for the energy that the National Dog Show brings to that building each November. We try to match it with our shows over the two days and, as everyone knows, the dogs will take all the attention then can get.”

Dog Show Details

The National Dog Show is rapidly approaching, and the Kennel Club of Philadelphia is welcoming the public back after a pandemic-caused spectator-less 2020.

Event information is as follows:

  • Dates: November 20-21, 2021
  • Location: Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks, Pa.
  • Cost: $16 per ticket, priced in line with the Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s nonprofit mission of educating the public about the overall value of dogs
  • Purchase: Available online
  • Vaccination Details:
    • Attendees, handlers, groomers, press, and judges will all need COVID-19 vaccinations
    • Registration of vaccinated status should be done on CLEAR, a free app
    • Because of a lack of availability to be vaccinated within a safe timeframe from the event, children under 12 unfortunately cannot attend the 2021 show

The 2021 National Dog Show Presented by Purina promises to be the highlight of the fall, especially with the opportunity to see it in person for the first time in two years.

Unleash your inner dog lover and make plans now to attend.

Laura Corbett is a senior at the University of Delaware interning at Vizion Group Public Relations and is from West Chester, Pa. Her favorite dog is her cousin’s Cavachon, Charlie. More about him and her are at Laura’s blog.

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