Musical Musings

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.       

Oral Hy-Jinks

I can’t help but hold anyone who discusses their own personal hygiene at some level of disdain.  I mean, this is what the term ‘TMI’ was made for.  Who wants to know your bathroom (or kennel) regimen?  And yet, here I am about to discuss a most important matter which will put the “gee” in hygiene.

Every night before I sack out, either Mom or Dad brushes my teeth.  Alright, I’ll wait until you stop smirking, laughing, or contorting your face in looks of disgust or incredulity.  Done?  OK, let me continue.

This is one of a very limited number of issues where I must agree with my companions.  They shared with me that dogs’ teeth should be brushed or treated for plaque and tartar for the same reasons that humans’ teeth are so attended on a daily basis:  bacteria can cause problems far beyond the mouth, affecting general health and cutting life spans.  Dogs’ lives are short enough without being further abridged by the likes of microscopic bad guys attacking teeth and gums.  Of course, Mom and Dad gleaned all this from the vet and other sources..they haven’t had an original thought since 1962.

Naturally, my teeth brushing routine did not get off to a rousing start some 9 years ago.  On that first, inauspicious occasion, Dad put gobs of toothpaste on my toothbrush and proceeded to brush my sensitive mouth like he was scrubbing floor mats in a car.  Then, he said “Spit.”  Say what?  He was obviously oblivious to the fact that dogs can no more perform the act of spitting then they can the soliloquy from Macbeth.  I thought he knew this, and was saying “Sit.”  So, I stood up and sat down again to show the moron that I had been sitting all along, and the command was unnecessary.  Then he poured some water in my mouth from a bottle.  I guess he was expecting me to swish it around, gargle to the tune “Hey Jude”, and projectile-spit it into the sink which was 10-feet away.  Instead, I gagged, emitting a wet, pasty goo onto his shoes.  To his credit, it only took six more nights of this same ridiculous scene until he modified his approach.  Now he places a tiny amount of toothpaste on the brush, places the brush handle in a vice at the level of my head, and allows me to brush my own teeth by sticking the brush in my mouth and moving my head around like some bobble-head doll.  Brilliant.

But the point is that I, having survived Dad’s approach to oral care, am now a poster dog for dental hygiene.  But wait.  It looks like he’s not yet satisfied.  It’s bedtime, and he’s approaching me with what  looks like dental floss in his hand.  This should be fascinating.