These are the times that try dogs’ souls. Dad was playing a new CD by Blue Sky Riders, and was apparently into the music. This was quite evident as his eyes rolled back in his head, his body contorted in uncontrolled convulsive spasms (he calls dancing), he broke into horrid exhibitions of air guitar and drum solos, and – perhaps worst of all – he launched into ear-splitting vocal death howls (he calls singing). I’m sure Blue Sky Riders would be appalled that their music could elicit such obnoxious behavior.
Then, abruptly in the middle of the second track, he ceased all of these senseless annoyances, stared down at me and inquired, “Flap, how can you not like this?” I suppose he picked up on a subtle clue…I was snoozing.
But I didn’t know if his inquiry was referring to this particular track, the entire CD, this genre of music, or music in general. It also begs a broader question: Do dogs hear music the way humans do? We all know that dogs’ hearing is thousands of times more acute than that of humans, so we obviously hear music.
What saddens people, however, is that we do not enjoy human-generated music. It is merely noise which can range from mildly calming to disturbing to outright painful (listening to Dad is off-the-charts excruciating..good thing I’ve learned to tune him out). Sure, some dogs howl when they hear music, but let’s not confuse this with what humans regard as singing or enjoyment. It’s merely either a primal reaction to certain sounds (as wolves responding to other wolves), or an attempt to please humans who seem to enjoy the vocal entertainment.
And here’s another truth. Dogs absolutely love music. Not human-generated music, but the music of nature. There is a rhythm to the passage of time. We hear it as surely as people hear the beat of a drum or the pulse of a bass. There are incredible harmonies in the moaning of the wind, the rustle of leaves, and the falling rain. There are beautiful vocal stylings of hawks and sparrows, mockingbirds and doves, finches and meadowlarks. Together, this music somehow conveys a serenity and reassurance that life’s fascination is enduring. This is our music.
Some people know this. Dad does not. So, he’ll continue to expose his obviously ignorant and unappreciative dog companion to his music while I continue to snooze through the noise. When it’s over, I can get back to the real music (although, I must say that if I actually appreciated human music, Blue Sky Riders would rate pretty high on my list).
What’s this? Dad is now lying on the floor, writhing in pain. Seems round two of his dance spasms included stubbing his toe on a chair, stumbling across the room and slamming his head on the fireplace mantle. And, in his inimitable, characteristic, melodramatic fashion, he is screaming like a toddler in full tantrum mode. Well, scream on my friend…just more ‘music’ through which I can happily doze.