ODD THOUGHTS: By Bob Groeneveld
I was not surprised when I read about researchers who had determined that dog people sing more to their pets, and cat people are more likely to talk to them.
I am a dog person and was a cat person in a past life (still am, but allergies in the household have curtailed feline acquaintance). So I can speak to both sides of this story.
Dog people are more likely to sing to their four-footed family members because dogs understand music.
In its basest form, dogs recognize the dulcet tones of a passing fire engine as a sort of music, and like my little Pippin, many can’t keep from tapping their toes and singing along.
If such dogs were human, they’d be gathered around a campfire on a summer night, and one of them would pull out a guitar, another would take his harpoon out of his dirty red bandana, and they’d all be clapping hands… well, paws… and singing every song that ol’ truck driver knew.
There’d also be at least one blowing some off-key notes on a half-empty beer bottle.
Because a lot of dogs are like that.
And there are some dogs, just like there are some people, who are very particular about the kinds of music they like to listen to.
Our golden retriever Loki would settle down and listen intently as I picked notes or chords on my guitar. But when I picked up my father-in-law’s baritone horn, he put his paws over his ears, started to moan, and finally walked out of the room in disgust.
Admittedly, horn is not my best instrument.
But Sam has grown very fond of my singing, and even more fond of my guitar than Loki ever was. Sam will not go to sleep at night without a song or two, and if I try to brush past the nightly concert, he pointedly directs my attention to the guitar sitting at the end of the bureau.
And he’s a critic. If I miss a note, he’ll huff. If I mess up again, he’ll raise his head and look at me with a look I haven’t experienced since Mr. Gibney threatened to demote me from lead sax to the second chair in the school band.
I can always win him back, though, by playing one of his favourites: Paul Simon’s American Tune or a little thing I wrote for him that I call A Fanfare for Sam.
He also likes John Denver’s Annie’s Song so much that when I’m out of the house, Donna can play it for him when he needs to calm down.
Although… he’s always a bit disappointed when he realizes I’m not the one singing. (If you ever need an ego boost, you can always count on your dog!)
So yes, dog people sing to their dogs because their dogs understand – and appreciate – the music.
And cats? Of course, you talk more to cats! They don’t listen, so you have to say it again, and again, and again…