Friday, August 20, 2010

Radar McCoy

As many are now aware (word travels fast in the circus business), I passed a huge milestone in my circus and tiger training career. Yesterday, August 19 in Houghton Lake, Michigan, Casey gave me the privilege of presenting his tiger act for my first two shows under the traditional circus big top, the Kelly Miller Circus. I had no idea that yesterday would be the day, not realizing what would be in store for me less than an hour after Casey had me practice and told me to style as well after the first trick. After deciding which tricks I would put the cats through, we quickly put together a wardrobe.

Fortunately for both the audience and I, it appears this costume will not be making another appearance. Today Casey and Natalie purchased a shirt for under the vest that Natalie has been decorating for me. I again presented the act today in Indian River with the extra covering. Nikki is preparing a second costume for me, with a jacket gifted to me from Mike and Carolyn Rice.

As I waited in the bandwagon, it was a completely different feeling to hear the show from the other side of the curtain, waiting for the moment when I would make my appearance. Many of the other performers, some of my closest friends here on the show, were both giving me a hard time and giving me advice as well. Ryan walked past, did a double take, and came in making an organ grinder monkey joke. Casey gave me last minute advice on working the cats. Natalie continuously tried to relax me, and John Moss (Ringmaster) came to me with a blue Sharpie and reported, "I don't have a black marker, but we could use this one to draw you a few chest hairs."

Casey told me I did well for the first show. Everyone had a lot of advice for me after I left the steel cage. Captain Lucky Eddie told me it didn't matter what happened, to follow Natalie and Casey's style and "Damn it, smile!" He said I did finally do so when I was moonwalking Sumsara; it seemed I had relaxed a bit and was a bit in the moment, realizing where I was and what I was doing. The final announcement also seemed a bit ridiculous, but just as excitable, "Titan of the Tigers, Radar McCoy!"

There seem to be a hundred more stories, but none I can recall at this point. At the very least, it will be a tale for another blog in the coming days, along with possibly a video clip if it does not get lost in the same place as the Karaoke video.
Photos courtesy of Valerie Berta Torales at The Mudshow Diaries


Rick, MI said...

Congrats Radar!!!

Steve said...

Good on you Radar - it get's easier every time. Until the cats decide to try you out for a few shows!!! Stay safe mate.

Anonymous said...

Good Show Radar!!! Keep up the good work.
Bob Kitto

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Radar. I can only imagine the feelings of pride and joy you experienced. I hope someday to see the show and meet you all. Until then let me join with the others to wish you continued success in your career.


john herriott said...

What is the purpose of this replacement in the cage? I have always been led to believe that being in the cage with these dangerous animals was highly technical and very serious business. Now it seems that it was alot of fun. I have been quite aware of Caseys accomplishments with this new group of tigers, so to speak, and have publicly aknowledged that. Now you leave me a little disappointed. Someone told me years ago that cat training-presentation was no big deal as"they can"t jump out of the ring" so guess it is no big deal.

Michael Newwton-Brown said...

Great News!

Casey McCoy Cainan said...

You are correct Mr. Herriot. Working trained cats is context training in the sense that they are not going to flee the ring. It is a big enough deal that I spent the last year and a half teaching Radar how to do it. All of which I have documented on video, in case that learning process is questioned.

Jack Ryan said...


So pleased about your successful debut. Keep on going on!


Jack Ryan said...


So pleased about your successful debut. Keep on going on!


Natalie Cainan said...

I can tell Mr. Herriot that after being married to Casey for the last 9 years, NO ONE TAKES ANIMAL TRAINING AND CARE AS SERIOUSLY AS HE DOES. He puts 150% into everything he does from being a dad to training animals. That is why he excels in so many different areas. I take offense that you would think my husband would stick someone in an arena full of tigers if he didn't feel that person were ready. He thinks of the safety of others before his own, no question. I have seen Casey and Ryan spend countless hours of training, teaching, lecturing, watching cat training and performance videos and analysing them over and over again. Casey has spent countless hours reading books, researching and "picking the brains" of renowned trainers. This is what makes our living, feeds our children and pays our bills. Neither Casey nor myself take our careers and everything they entails with a "grain of salt" or with a flippant attitude. Anyone who knows both of us can attest to that. I suppose that is why you would make such a comment, because you don't know us.

E. Rose Acord said...

I'll say it again: I'm so proud of you, Ryan.

You're one of the few that have done the work, have made the sacrifices and have developed the right attitude to learn and unlearn in order to reach your dream.

Tiger presenting/training or any other dream any of us may have; you are an example of what hard work, faith, hope, love and a great attitude can bring.

I'm a watcher from afar, but even from here: I can tell that you deserve all you earn, which is praise.

...and Casey is a fine teacher, and mentor as well as what I see to be a good human being. He, too is to be congratulated for both thing.

Wishing you all the best, Rose

Crystal said...

So excited for you!!! Not surprised you did so well - it's your passion and your mentor is top nothc!

Congrats again! <3

mike swain said...

In theory if the criteria for the behaviors is the same and the commands/Stimulus between handlers. It's as if the the same person is handling the animal. This is the way it should be it is more humane. I have seen countless times different set of commands and criteria between handlers on the same animal. The animal has to be a mind reader figure out what the handler is wanting. Training is not in the whispers. It is in the science. Proper stimulus(audible,visual,tactile) proper response.

Natalie Cainan said...

Very true Michael. I am reminded of what Joanne and Trudy told me when I very first started training dogs. "If the animal does not give you the behavior you are looking for, it is ALWAYS the trainers' fault."

Wade G. Burck said...

Wade Burck

adam said...

Congratulations on your first show. I will always remember my first show. I was so nervous that I fell off the mirror ball and almost broke my ankle. I like you was fourtunate to have a great animal trainer teach me not only how to present the tigers but more importantly how to train them and understand them. That knoledge is more valuable than any circus fame could ever be. Keep up the good work and welcome to the"club".

P.S. Don't let Garden Hose Burck give you any shit about your announcement. lol

Anonymous said...

I swear to God, why does
everything that Casey does have to be made a freaking Federal Case out of by a certain retired animal trainer...??? It gets a little annoying after the one millionth time. God forbid that Casey might pass on his knowledge to someone else. Correct me if Im wrong but isnt that the point of Radar even being a groom was so that he could learn??? Everybody has to start somewhere. Unfortunately, we can all come from a "famous" circus family like others...(Im rolling my eyes as I type that)

Lauren Fairchild-Dubsky

Anonymous said...

PS...You go RADAR...!!! God forbid you might learn something along the


Radar said...

Thank you very much everyone for the congrats and the kind words from those they came from. As great as an experience as my first show was, I am learning more and more with each show, each practice and each passing day. Words cannot express how neat it is to see the videos that Casey posted today and how grateful I am to him for the opportunites and education he has provided for me.
All the comments mean a lot to me, even the critism that I want to enter the business, must start somewhere, and luckily am learning from one of the best.

Anonymous said...

Wade, What Mike said, in small words you can understand is: If two people use different cues for the same trick or the same cue for different tricks it confuses the animal. So it is a good thing Casey has Radar working his cats exactly like he does.
Mark Horton

Wade G. Burck said...

I understood what Mike was saying, I just didn't understand why he was saying it.

Be easy on Mike. He wasn't making a Federal case out of anything.
Wade Burck

MatCoes said...

Nice going, Radar. Congratulations.

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