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Fido and Me – Bubba's Lesson

April 13, 2012

We were watching golf on TV and Fido could not stay awake.

He was not disinterested, though.

“How’s Westwood doing?” he said, shaking awake.

“Making a charge,” I said, “but he won’t win it. Never does.”

We went back to the tournament, me completely absorbed, Fido completely absorbed, too … in his nap.

He awoke during each commercial, though, and he wasn’t happy when he did. It didn’t take long for me to use the mute button.

During one of my mute timeouts, I got to thinking about what I was seeing in Fido. Why would he relax and snooze during the good bits and wake up during the commercials? Sometimes it takes me awhile to see what is right in front of my face.

Fido, being a dog, has such sensitive hearing that he heard nothing but irritating noise during the commercials. Yet he was soothed by the television golf announcers, speaking in their near-whispers as the players maneuvered their way through Augusta National. Occasionally a bird would chirp, adding to the pastoral pastiche.

That led me to the old question about dogs.

Their human companions often wonder if music can soothe pets the same way it can relax people. The answer, as it turns out, seems to be yes. So too, apparently, can golf on television (minus the commercials.)

The tournament resumed after a chaotic commercial. Fido lay on the World’s Largest Dog Bed (the couch) and quickly dozed off. He began to snore just as the three-man playoff was beginning.

I turned on my laptop during the next commercial and did some research. There, I found Tom Nazziola, a Brooklyn composer and orchestrator, who also is a pet lover.

“Fido?” I said, and he opened his eyes. “After golf, let’s listen to some music.”

“Oy vey,” he said. He often slips into Yiddish during Passover. “Not with that stuff you listen to.”

“Yeah, but I’m going to switch gears this evening,” I said. “It’s all about you.”

Nazziola says classical harp music is used around the world to help alleviate stress and heal sickness in cats, dogs, chimpanzees and other animals. He says cats will relax in front of the speakers when classical music is playing, and dogs will actually bark less, especially when listening to Bach. Ha ha ha.

“Bach is good,” I said to Fido. “He doesn’t modulate a lot. Neither does Hayden. I think you’d like Mozart, too, but not the operas.”

When the golf tournament ended, I switched off the television. I fixed a snack, with the big red lug at my heels. Just for the heck of it, Fido got a biscuit without having to obey a command. Sunday evenings are like that. I got to thinking about some other composers that we might try.

Brahms came to mind, and Beethoven’s piano sonatas—certainly not the odd-numbered symphonies (First, Third, Fifth, Seventh and Ninth.)

“Here we go Fido, let’s see what happens.” I tossed some Bach into the CD player and feigned going about my business. I did not turn it up past medium.

Sure enough, Fido crawled back up on his dog bed and began to snooze. I could tell he was drifting. He had a smile on his mug.

Later that night, as I was preparing for bed, the oh-so-relaxed Fido said he had an odd request.

“Could you read to me?”

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