Archive for The Importance of Dog

Therapy Dogs: Music to the Hands and the Heart

You’ve said it before yourself, that therapy dogs bring their own sort of music; therapy dogs are music to the hands and hearts of those they touch. And you were right. Remember?

A few weeks ago Alice’s buddy Hannah Bannanah Puddin at Natural Pet Essentials (NPE) in Charlottesville started up the Holiday Pet Food Drive. NPE takes donations of pet food for the dogs and cats at Ring Dog Rescue and Caring for Creatures.

alice n guitar case

Here at SongSharing we were busy building awareness for the website and our continuing efforts to Make Music More Accessible ™, and so Alice, who is wise beyond her ears, comes to me with this brilliant idea…

Let’s do a win-win thing with Hannah Bannanah, dad.

“What did you have in mind, Alice?”

Let’s donate $1 per LIKE that they bring to our SongSharing facebook page.

“That sounds easy enough. You think we’ll be able to raise much money, though?”

Yup! Especially if we offer to double it to $2 per like if they get us 100.

“I like it, but we have to keep the budget in mind, Alice.”

I know. So we put a lid on the ol’ cookie jar, so to speak. We can cap it at $200. That’s an awful lot of kibble for the hungry pups, and all her people have to do is visit our page and click a button. What could be easier? She was right, but I did have one reservation.

“The thing is, Alice, Natural Pet does pet related stuff. We do music related stuff. How do they tie in? People like to be able to make a connection when it comes to this sort of thing. What interest would pet lovers have in an organization focused on Making Music More Accessible?” There may not be any dumb questions, but I was about to be schooled.

Excuse me? Who hangs out in the guitar case at Community Venues? Who greets everyone after the shows? Who’s the most adorable part of the act?

“Guitar case? You. Greeter? You.” I grinned. “But most adorable, that would be…”

Soft grrrr…. Don’t even try it, dad. You’ve said it before yourself, that therapy dogs bring their own sort of music; therapy dogs are music to the hands and hearts of those they touch. And you were right. Remember?

It had slipped my mind. I did say that.

SongSharing was founded in 1994, and Alice joined in 2006, not long after we rescued each other. It was clear from her first concert that she elevated the impact. Months later, when we were writing songs for It’s Time That Time Was Overthrown, I said that.

That’s your tie-in, dad. Wise… wise beyond her ears. I handed her a cookie.

And we’ve got another way to help with our music, dad, if we get 100 LIKES.

“Yes?”

We’ll donate some copies of It’s Time That Time Was Overthrown, since my picture is in there, and that story about the day that Arlo and Quincy and all those marvelous MadCo Agility people drove down to Horizon House and put on that big agility demo! It’s a perfect tie-in, and Hannah Bannanah can offer them up to help bring in some more donations.

God, I love this dog.

You talk about music to the hands and hearts… They still talk about that day, and it was… how does that work? Dog years and people years? It was like 49 years ago or something, for me.

“Yes, exactly. Seven people years ago. 2007, in the summer. They do still talk about it.”

And then our friends from Horizon House came to the Misty Mountain MadCo wedding, and folks from the Cedars. And this fall the MadCo people put on a demo at The Cedars. It all ties in, Dad. It’s all music, the dogs and everything.

Yesterday we dropped by NPE with ten copies of It’s Time That Time Was Overthrown and left them with Miss Hannah. We’re not sure what she has in mind, but we hope it will inspire some folks to donate to the Holiday Pet Food Drive. Ten warm-hearted souls will get a copy for themselves, or perhaps they can give it as a gift to someone special in their lives this holiday season.

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Here’s a link to some songs from It’s Time That Time Was Overthrown – any of the songs with the image below are from the cd, which features ten songs that Alice and I co-wrote. It also includes cover versions of REM’s It’s the End of the World As We Know It and Dolly Parton’s Jolene – both REM and Dolly have shown their support for SongSharing over the years. gregallenmusic2

And if you want to help feed some wonderful dogs who did nothing to deserve the fate that has become them, then please stop by or contact Natural Pet Essentials right away and make a donation. Hannah will let you know what the deal is if you want a cd. Thank you for helping us all close out 2014 and ring in the New Year with a woof and a song!

Natural Pet Essentials is located at 3440 Seminole Trail – Suite 105/106, in Charlottesville. Their phone number is 434-979-9779. Ask for Hannah Bannanah Puddin.

npe 2014 donation

WWDOG DO

Last night I spoke out on behalf of a dog that went missing. A dog that had bolted before, but for some interesting reason is allowed to be off-leash in situations precisely similar to those in which he has bolted before.

Lynn - goofy ears-1
Lynn’s rendition of Alice’s ears

Alice the therapy min-pin is a huge part of today’s SongSharing effort. She brings a different sort of music, but it is music nonetheless; a different sort of healing, but healing nonetheless.

When I found Alice in Buckingham County, VA in 1995, after I had left a note on a couple of nearby houses and we headed home, I asked her a question that many of us dog lovers would have asked of a stray that we’d just picked up.

“What’s your name, little girl?”

In those days I honestly was not expecting an answer, but immediately she responded with “Alice”. I heard it clear as a cloudless full-moonlit night.

“Did you say Alice?”

“Alice.”

Admittedly I was a little taken aback, but I said “Well, then, Alice, you’re going to meet some new friends tonight. When we get a signal I’ll call ahead so Lynn can tell the pack that you’re coming.” We had six other dogs at the time.

In the next few years it became very clear to me that Alice is one of the wisest voices in my head, which is one of the sources of her Canine Messiah nickname, for she is wise beyond her ears. She’s also my co-writer, and together we’ve written many a song and are working on our second book.

And so, yes, I talk to dog, and dog talks to me. And that, I have learned is a gift, and an enormous privilege that is not to be taken lightly.

Last night I spoke out on behalf of a dog that went missing. A dog that had bolted before, but for some interesting reason is allowed to be off-leash in situations precisely similar to those in which he has bolted before. What I said in a very matter of fact, honest tone was taken as a little bit harsh by someone, although I still don’t think it was a harsh statement. It’s like when you shoot an arrow from a bow. If there is no target, or it sails past the target, the target feels nothing. But if it strikes true, well then…

So I fired an arrow of honesty if you will, from an aching heart on behalf of an animal that relies upon its humans for certain things. Among those certain things it is clear to me that our dogs rely on us to treat them precisely as the dog that they are. And that’s not a hurtful arrow. It’s just an arrow.

The “dog that they are” is often drastically different than the dog that some humans imagine that they are, or pretend that they are, or wish that they might one day be. We all fancy how wonderful it would be to have an off-leash dog that never leaves our side, and never responds to instinct and suddenly bolts in pursuit of a deer or a squirrel or a car as we holler they do not hear, and call them “bad dog”.

But many of us do not have the dog we wish we had in that sense. We have the dog that we have. Alice is a flight risk, and I respect that and treat her as such, and I love her all the same. And she is either on-leash, in a crate, in the house, the camper or a hotel room with Lynn and/or me, or in the fenced yard. That is my responsibility to her.

Alice and I hope the dog that bolted yesterday is found safe. Every ounce of our mutual being hopes that. And we hope that the humans learn something, and assume an added measure of responsibility for this dog they love. Because, in my book, until they do so, they are not even close to being the fabulous dog owners that they make themselves out to be. That’s a fantasy they hold about themselves, and it can turn expensive and it can turn deadly.

Look, I’m not claiming some sense of perfection here. I too have had dogs run off in my past. I have had dogs that I allowed to roam be killed by cars. I too have blamed the dog, and the neighbors, and the way people drive. And no one ever said to me, “You know, when your dog takes off after a deer and you scream and holler its name and tell it to come, that dog does not even hear you. That dog’s brain has effectively shut you and the non-instinctual world out in that moment.” Lynn taught me that a decade ago.

Dogs evolve us, if we only hear them and listen. And sometimes I understand now, people like me must speak up for them, because alot of people only hear “woof” or “whine”, which is a vocalization, and only a minute fraction of the extensive communication that they are capable of.

So I am going to continue to speak up on behalf of dog whenever the opportunity arises. Because dogs are an incredibly important part of this world and our lives. I see it everywhere that I see Alice the therapy dog in action, whether it be a nursing home or a store like Harmony Moon this past Saturday, or a restaurant patio.

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Alice, wise beyond her ears