My question this week was: Can music really calm a dog that’s upset? Several people answered an enthusiastic Yes! and a number of them mentioned a CD specifically — and scientifically — designed to elicit that response in canines. Bridget K. Smith, speaking for her dog, Wrigley, mentioned that they had even collaborated on an article on the topic. I asked her to send it to me, and I was impressed by Wrigley’s erudition — and enthusiasm. So here you have it.
ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN
I hate to bark it to the four-legged animals of the world, but I’ve recently discovered that one of our canine movie stars, Beethoven — the lovable 300 lb Saint Bernard depicted in the Disney movies — isn’t the only Beethoven. No, I’m not pulling your tail. There’s another Beethoven who was popular way before our beloved friend, a legendary composer respected for his musical genius. Go ahead, take a minute to paws on this discovery while adjusting your ears to some ground-digging research that connects these two Beethovens, and maybe we’ll see who rolls over.
It’s true, music is THE universal language. When all else fails in the communication department, music has the one sound that strikes a familiar chord in all living subjects. Humans think they’re so clever by trying to teach us, in their language, commands like “jump,” “run,” “fetch,” “sit,” “stay.” Newsflash: We ALREADY know that stuff! But it is fun watching them endlessly bark commands and toss us treats for doing what we already know but on their time. Timing is everything, especially in music! And the timing was serendipitous when three professionals came together to conduct research on music and how it can calm and soothe the humans and their dogs. The result of their findings is available through books and CDs entitled “Through a Dogs Ear.”
Finally, something I can put on my iPAWD!
Why music for dogs? When the composer DeBussy said,“Music is the silence between the notes,” I think he was on to something. We are sensory loaded animals living in an overloaded sensory world. Living with people nowadays with technology at its best and loudest — i.e. cell phones, TV’s, CDs, alarm clocks, and plastic bags — there’s not much silence between the sonic-busting worldly notes. Some of us tend to get a little jumpy being exposed to this on a daily basis. With “Through a Dogs Ear,” classical music by Bach, Beethoven, Beach, Handel, and many more with appropriate rhythms in a style specifically produced to calm and relax us pooches, I found the silence to be able to process my thoughts during anxious times.
Come on; raise your paw if you get nervous, anxious, or just plain ballistic at certain times. “Hi, my name is Wrigley and I have issues.” For example: I love traveling with my guardian but I get “over excited” in the car at times. She’s tried to calm me by rolling down the window or petting me on top of my head and whisper sweet nothings in my ears but… the EARS AIN’T LISTENING! All that I hear is my brain screaming, “She’s not taking you shopping you idiot; you’re going to the vet!”
Bioacoustics is the study of the sounds that animals make and how they produce it and use it to communicate. A broader definition includes the exploration of the effect of the human soundscape upon animals. And I learned this big word after my human read the introductory book “Through a Dogs Ear” which is the result of the combined efforts of Joshua Leeds, renowned authority on psychoacoustics; Lisa Spector, Julliard-trained concert pianist; and Susan Wagner, veterinary neurologist and pioneer in the arena of human-animal bond. It’s not just music gone to the dogs, it’s music FOR the dogs. It’s psychoacoustically (another big word) designed and proven to be calming and even enhance the health of a dog. Some of their early research was based on testing this musical theory in animal shelters.
I was very skeptical at first when my guardian popped in the CD while we were riding in the car. “This will help you calm down a little,” she said. Right! Me? Calm down in a moving vehicle? Ha! I’m too busy ducking objects flying by the glass windows like asteroids going 100 miles an hour and always guessing where we are going and feeling every little bump the four wheels go over, turning right, no…make that a hard left…RED LIGHT!! Hit the BRAKES!! Yea, like I’m gonna calm down…wait a minute! This is nice music! Classical you say? Not bad, but if you think it’s gonna calm me dow……..ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
Not only am I finding myself in a state of calmness nowadays but my musical education has gone up a few notches. My guardian reads each title and composer aloud from the CDs before each piece is played. I’m not only adorable but I’m getting classy too! My canine hero of the movies may have to roll over and share the spotlight of a great name. And I wonder if Beethoven the composer, were he here today, would he roll over if I told him how I finally got a Handel on my issues?
Bios: Wrigley is a talented Havachon with a passion for writing. After being caught red-pawed on the computer answering his guardians’ emails, he was coerced and ultimately agreed to become a writing team with Bridget K. Smith. Their mission is to convey everyday experiences of a dog through the eyes of a dog. Bridget feels that since she has teamed up with Wrigley the possibilities are endless. They are currently working on a blog for Wrigley! De tails to come soon.