As a kid growing up, I was pretty sure that being “an adult” meant getting to eat candy whenever I wanted to and staying up late on weeknights. I had visions of eating chocolate cake for breakfast and washing it down with grape Kool-Aid, which is sort of like a fruit because it has the word, “grape” in it, right? While I don’t really wish to go back in time, I can readily admit that adulthood isn’t quite what I bargained for. Occasionally, I want to revert to back to childish things. And this is one of those times! (Enter: Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey, stage right!)
Do you know about Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey? This capuchin monkey, dressed like Glen Campbell from his “Rhinestone Cowboy” days, makes the rounds to the rodeo circuits with his trusty Border collie steeds. Watching a monkey in Western garb riding a saddle-wearing dog while rounding up sheep in a rodeo arena is better than … well, it’s better than chocolate cake and grape Kool-Aid (which incidentally isn’t really a flavor combo that appeals to me anymore)!
Some animal rights groups have criticized the use of a monkey riding a dog for the sake of entertainment (as if there could be another reason for a monkey to be riding a dog.) I have been fortunate enough to see Whiplash on several occasions and I am of the opinion that the monkey and his dog companions seem to love every minute of their time in the star-spangled rodeos!
Tommy Lucia, Whiplash’s friend and caretaker is adamant that Whiplash doesn’t do anything he doesn’t want to do. That sounds about right! According to Mr. Lucia, Whiplash’s performance each night is entirely dependent upon his mood. And those sheep don’t stand a chance against an impulsive monkey!
Like many celebrities before him, Whiplash has enjoyed an illustrious career as a product endorser. For four years, Whiplash and his Border collies – – Ben, Bud and Toby – – were featured in Taco John commercials. Take that, Taco Bell, Chihuahua! Nothing screams, “Buy a burrito!” like a Capuchin monkey in a sombrero, right?! However, Taco John eventually decided to go all Darwinian, and their ad campaign evolved into one that featured an endorser of the human variety.
Each time I see Whiplash, I come up with a slew of random thoughts. Here are a few of them:
- As much as I enjoy Whiplash, I can’t help thinking that the dogs are the underappreciated partners in that relationship. I think that perhaps they should hire an agent and fight for better billing. Whiplash without his dogs would be like the Lone Ranger without Silver. Well, technically he would just be a like monkey chasing sheep, which is pretty interesting on its own merit. But you get my point.
- What possesses someone to try putting a monkey on a dog’s back? I mean, the first time it happened, did Mr. Lucia say to himself, “I wonder if this here monkey could ride that there dog?”
- Where does one go to purchase monkey chaps? Or a dog saddle? Do they purchase off the rack at Build-a-Bear Workshop, or are these custom made?
- How long does it take to dress a monkey? Is it like trying to put a sweater on a toddler? “Can you give me your arm, Whiplash? Whiplash, give me your arm! Whiplash!”
- Has fame gone to Whiplash’s head? Does he have diva moments where he refuses to eat bananas with any black spots on the peel?
- Do the sheep think they are hallucinating? “A monkey on a dog? Naawww. It can’t be!”
Yes, these are the things I ponder. I realize it’s frightening and I should probably limit the amount of time I have for pondering.
If you have never had the pleasure of seeing Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey, he’ll be making appearances at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo from January 24th through February 9th. It is worth making a trip into Cow Town for this! If you miss him there, Whiplash will also perform at the Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo, April 4th through 7th, in Oklahoma City. Whiplash is something every good Westerner should see . . . if only for the sake reclaiming a bit of childhood. Enjoy the video!
Happy Trails, y’all!