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Posted by GoatWorld on June 04, 2002 at 06:17:48:

New Mule Day attraction: A balloon-blowing goat
By Mark Hughes Cobb
Staff Writer
June 1, 2002

Blaze the World-Famous Balloon-Blowing Goat inflates a balloon Friday while his owner, Dr. Happy LaClair, holds him. The duo are appearing this weekend at the 15th annual Mule Day/ Chickenfest. Staff photo | Porfirio Solorzano

It sounds like a lost — or discarded — Tom Robbins novel: Dr. Happy LaClair and Blaze, The World-Famous Balloon-Blowing Goat.

But no, the clown-and-goat team is one of the new attractions of this weekend’s Gordo Mule Day/Chickenfest.

It is often said that goats will eat anything. It is less well known that goats talk and chew bubble gum ... but not at the same time.

About 20 years ago, Dr. Happy (a stage name; in a former life he was Claren Baker of Fostoria, Ohio) discovered goats on his farm chomping discarded gum. They’d even blow bubbles once the stuff was sufficiently softened.

"I thought, ‘With my help, they could learn to blow up balloons,’ " Dr. Happy said.

As a younger man, the soon-to-be Dr. Happy worked in a factory making spark plugs. But he’d been raised on a farm and had returned to the farming life.

All the while, showbiz beckoned. In high school, Baker performed in class plays, but he gave up the stage for a steady paycheck.

In his 30s, he started performing again, as a clown/magician/ventriloquist at church programs and father-son banquets.

"I started ventriloquism in ’75, then got into magic," Dr. Happy said.

"Next thing you know I had a goat following me around."

Dr. Happy travels with two goats in a converted Greyhound. The ruminants ride in an air-conditioned baggage compartment under the floor.

"They’ve got it better than most goats out in the field," Dr. Happy said.

Like Lassie, there have been many mammals performing the role of Blaze.

"I’ve had probably about six different goats," Dr. Happy said. "The normal life span is about eight to 10 years. I lost one at 14; just lost one in January."

The current pair are a 9-year-old Toggenburg with a bit of an attitude, and a more loving 3-year-old Anglo-Nubian.

"Every goat has a different personality. You have to go through five or six goats to find one who works good with you," Dr. Happy said.

"These two are extremely opposite. The 9-year-old likes to keep kids [human, that is] back with his head. He doesn’t want small kids up close. I keep a real short rope on him.

"The other goat loves to give kisses. Adults get down on their hands and knees, he’ll just kiss ’em on the chin."

Blaze also talks. He consented to a short interview over Dr. Happy’s cell phone.

"Rub my earrrrrr. Oh, that feels so gooood," Blaze blatted.

What he lacks in erudition, Blaze apparently makes up in wit and charm.

At events such as Gordo’s Mule Day, Blaze will joke with the kids while Dr. Happy turns blown-up balloons into sculptures such as flower pots, rainbows and so on.

Blaze is billed as "world-famous" because he’s toured Australia as well as the United States. Last year, Dr. Happy and Blaze went out on a 38-city tour with country act Brooks and Dunn, and appeared on "Ripley’s Believe It Or Not."

Learn more about Blaze and his inflation on the Web site

Mule Day events will be held in downtown Gordo. Some tables will be available in the eating area, but patrons are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.

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