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Sara Carson & Her Super Collies

Born to do this: a lifelong love affair with dog training leads to cross-border fame and an enviable bond with a pack of truly incredible heart-dogs

By: Cassandra Gill

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Header photo Pratt + Kreidich Photography

There are dogs who do tricks—and then there’s Sara Carson’s Super Collies. Following a successful run on America’s Got Talent (with a fifth place finish), appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the Canadian-born trainer and her furry brood have shot to stardom in the show-dog world.

While it’s impossible to imagine Sara without her handsome Border Collies Hero, Hawkeye, Marvel, and Fury, it was, in fact, an English Cocker Spaniel that truly started it all.

“I didn't have many friends. I literally spent all of my time training my [Cocker Spaniel] Maple,” she recalls of her childhood. At just 12 years old, Sara impressively began teaching herself about dog training in the most millennial way possible: YouTube.

“I mastered my craft at a really young age,” she explains, hilariously remembering that the Cocker Spaniel—named for Canada’s most iconic sweet treat—wasn’t exactly destined for stardom.

“He was not the best starter dog, but he learned quite a bit,” Sara laughs. The then middle-schooler got her first pup trained on agility equipment she built herself (thank you, Internet) and, if it’s not obvious, she was already in love with the idea of working with canines on a full-time basis.

To no surprise, Sara and her trusty companion Maple became quite the local hit in North Bay, the Ontario city where she grew up.

“Truly, that was how [my career] blossomed,” she says. Not long after, others began seeking her out to train their own dogs—leading Sara into her first entrepreneurial venture at just 16 years old.

Today, Sara is one of the top international trick dog trainers on the globe—earning a number of accolades and awards, including the coveted Greatmats Dog Trainer Of The Year title in 2017. Looking back at her massive accomplishments, though, it’s almost impossible to believe Sara grew up with a family who didn’t love dogs.

“My mother would not let me [train other dogs] at the house—so I rented a doggy daycare where I started teaching agility, puppy tricks, and basic obedience,” she explains, “I grew that business from having three dogs that month to over 40 people coming to me for training,” she says.

Sara ran the side business, called Paws of Dog Training, until she was 20—all while simultaneously studying towards a degree in graphic design at Canadore College (which comes in handy to this day for her social media and marketing materials). While her career in the dog world was already well underway, a university education was of paramount importance for Sara’s parents.

“My dad told me that he would support my dog stuff as long as I allowed him to put me through college…I was doing a lot at a young age!” she quips.

When Sara got her first border collie Hero—now the star of the Super Collie’s—things took a more serious turn for the talented young dog trainer.

“Border Collies are; working dogs, they're bred to herd sheep for hours and hours a day. And that's truly what you need in a dog like this,” she explains of the breed, who clearly make for fabulous performers.

“Any dog can do this,” Sara stresses. “But professionally speaking—you would want to get a working dog [breed], stamina wise…they're bred to work, and they're quick to run,” she explains.


“The best way to build engagement and bond with your dog is just to literally build more structure in your dog’s life.”


Training for Hero went beyond the usual “sit” and “roll over” commands fairly quickly: at just four months old, the Border Collie knew how to fetch drinks from the fridge. By two, he could perform a walking handstand and much, much more.

“Things changed drastically once I realized exactly what a dog could learn and what they were capable of—especially with a dog that had the drive to do it,” she says of her best friend, who is now 10. “And my Border Collie mix was all about it…Hero knew well over 600 tricks by the time he was two, so his vocabulary was phenomenal.”

In 2018, Hero broke the Guinness World Record for most dog tricks performed in one minute: he completed a whopping 49 in just 60 seconds, nearly doubling the previous record holder.

Photo Living Wild Photography

The two share a close connection, as Sara affectionately refers to Hero as her “heart dog.” The pooch had the distinction of being “Best Dog” at her wedding; the first dance was shared not with the groom, but with Hero, performed to the iconic ham “Footloose.”

“We have a crazy, crazy bond,” she says.

Sara helps other dog owners replicate this lasting bond with their dogs. She teaches that spending just five to 10 minutes a day teaching a pooch and giving him structure can make all the difference. It can be as simple as working on tricks at the park.

PRO TIP – Try this at home: Working dogs like Sara’s have all their meals fed from their owner’s hand to improve the bond and cooperation.

Marvel, now six, is the “diva” of the group. (Move over, Mariah Carey!)  “She doesn’t like any dogs whatsoever—including my own!”, Sara spills of the discerning pooch, who, along with Hawkeye, has qualified for several world championships—including the UFO World Cup Frisbee Dog Series.

Marvel prefers to skip the dancing and stick to her frisbees while performing—which Sara has worked into many choreographed routines. “She has a lot of personality…not the personality I want in a dog!” she cracks up.

Fury joined the gang after being adopted from BCSave Rescue in Texas. At three years old, he was the oldest dog Sara ever brought into the group—but picked up tricks pretty quickly thanks to training from his previous owner. Sara describes Fury as a “long term foster” as the dog will be returned back to his original owner after being on the road with her for a year.

Then there’s Hawkeye, who at two, is the baby of the ensemble. “He's a Border Collie like the rest of them, but he just is so incredibly special,” Sara says adoringly.

Hawkeye holds a particularly special place in the group due to the loss of Sara’s dog Loki two years ago. The blue Border Collie appeared alongside Hero and Marvel during her run on AGT, sadly passing in 2017. A quick glance at Sara’s Instagram reveals she dyed her hair an ombre shade of blue, which she says is a tribute to her late pooch.

“Hawkeye’s not a reincarnation because I had him before Loki passed away—but he has that bond with me that I had with Loki,” she reflects. “It’s funny because it took me almost a year to like him—it was very difficult!” she adds, revealing Hawkeye would, at times, rather run down the street and hang out with neighbours then his Super Collie gang.

Like Marvel, Hawkeye has also qualified for world championships (the UFO World Cup Frisbee Dog Series, Skyhoundz World Canine Disc Championships, and the AWI World Championship to be exact)—a first and very exciting milestone for Sara. While the legendary dog trainer has had a number of career highs, few elevated her profile quite like America’s Got Talent.

After being approached several times by producers for the NBC series—which tapes in Hollywood—she had to figure out the immigration hurdle.

“I'm Canadian. And I didn't have a visa or anything [to go to the U.S.],” she says. After proving herself as an “alien of extraordinary ability” in 2017, the North Bay native finally found herself south of the border—but still waited to compete on the show.

“I only had Hero and I knew I wasn’t ready to do it with just one dog. I waited until I had a couple—and that was probably the smartest thing I've ever done,” Sara says looking back. Eventually, she competed on the 12th season for the show.

That same year, she also launched her widely successful dog training app Puppr, which just recently hit a million downloads.

While competing for judges Howie Mandel, Spice Girl Mel B, Heidi Klum, and the curmudgeonly Simon Cowell looks glamorous on television, she admits the weekly reality series is a grind behind-the-scenes: contestants have just four days to come up with their routines start-to-finish, Sara reveals.

“They give you no time—so it was nice I had a dog [Hero] who could just go in there and not even think about it,” she recalls.

Sara and the Super Collie crew had a number of memorable moments on-screen, including an iconic Baywatch themed routine that had Hero showing off his best simulated resuscitation, beach volleyball, and skateboarding skills.

Ultimately, Hero, Loki, Marvel and Sara were eliminated on the series, coming in fifth place (ventriloquist Darci Lynne was crowned the winner). While the AGT exposure undoubtedly elevated Sara’s career, she values the lifelong friendships she made during the unique experience over and above anything else.

“I just hung out with [season 12 contestants] Preacher Lawson and Darci a couple months ago, and I tend to see them all just a few times a year,” she shares. “We all keep in touch. It’s like a family. That community is so special.” Sara later returned to America's Got Talent: The Champions in 2019 but was eliminated during the preliminaries.

These days, the Super Collie mom and her dogs are living full-time in an RV as they travel from state to state doing dog competitions, workshops, and hopefully, more shows as COVID restrictions lift. “We’re pretty much just gypsies…we’re doing a lot of hiking,” she laughs. “My last performance with my guys was March 2020. We haven't done anything,” she says, other than smaller dog training workshops in different cities.

Photo Jamie Popper

The Ontario native still kept busy during quarantine with several other projects—including writing her first book. Super Dog Tricks: Make Your Dog a Super Dog with Step by Step Tricks and Training Tips is officially set for release in January 2022. The book will teach owners everything from basic tricks to “super impressive” ones (like turning the lights off or taking a selfie). There are also chapters dedicated to her unique choreographed routines, dubbed “Canine Freestyle.”

“Teaching these tricks is definitely different—I always tell people that it’s really like we're just playing…but it becomes like a choreographed routine. It’s not just training,” she shares. “It's very much just having fun and dancing around with your dogs.”

Beyond adding author to her resume, she’s also set for a return to television as a judge on a new Animal Planet show that starts filming in July 2021. “There's a bunch of new things happening. It's a whole different direction than I was in just a year ago,” she says.

As for the next five years, Sara already has a clear vision board in mind. “I would like to have my own house with training buildings so that I don’t have to travel, and can make content,” she shares. “And just helping more dog owners learn to have fun with their dogs!”

Last Updated:

By: Cassandra Gill
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