Why I sing to my dog, Opal

I risk being branded a nut for admitting that I sing to Opal. It wouldn’t be the first time and I’ll chance it!  I made an accidental discovery one rainy day last year.  Opal and I were slogging through the rain here in Halifax, in typical Nova Scotia fashion when I burst into song. It rains a bunch here and unfortunately, Opal does not enjoy getting wet.  Paradoxically, like most labs, she loves to swim.  Go figure!  She even ‘puddle jumps’ in an effort to keep her feet dry.  This is no big deal, as long as she doesn’t vault off a curb (with me in tow), in an attempt to avoid the accumulated water at the curb.  She’s an odd little duck of a Guide dog… when displeased about being out on a rainy day, she slows down, thereby extending the time we must spend in getting to our destination.  You would think that she would want to speed up and get it over with.  No, I have learned to accept her responses and behaviour, much in the way that she accepts my eccentricities.  I wear good rain gear and Carry towels in my backpack on these days. The towels are for Opal when we arrive wherever we are headed (we sometimes share). It would be uncomfortable and unpleasant for her to remain wet for any length of time while she lies and waits for me at a meeting or appointment. I do my best to keep her working time in the rain tolerable by singing.  It seems to help. It helps me, at least, and if I’m happy and relaxed, Opal usually is too.  My choice of rain songs is vast. Plenty of tunes about rain, of course: ‘Singing in the Rain’,  ‘Raindrops Keep Falling…’, and show tunes.  I once got us through a nasty, long stretch with the score to “West Side Story”, or at least, what parts of it I could recall.  There are breaks in my singing to give Opal commands as required. It probably sounds quite horrible to any passersby.  I  do not have a good singing voice.  That does not seem to matter to Opal. I doubt she hears anything clearly, what with the ambient noise from the rain and wind. I’m positive that the lyrics (which I largely bungle) don’t make any sense to her.  My singing career is going nowhere, I know. But here’s what I think about the value of singing to your dog (or cat).  I was grooming the girls (Opal and Lucy) one day. Opal was restless. I starting singing  “Moon River” (remember Audrey Hepburn as Hollygolightly in ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’?). It is a lovely melody, very soothing and gentle.  My original lyrics were improvised…’moon river, longer than a mile, I’m crossing you in style…you dream weaver, you bee keeper…) Understand that the melody was important at the time. I was shocked. Opal was mesmerized and settled into a heap on the floor. Lucy too. I shrugged it off.  The following day?  Same thing.  Total fascination with this tune and complete relaxation. I have since found the correct lyrics (found at the end of this entry) and sing it anytime I want Opal or Lucy to relax.  I love it even more, now that I have learned the lyrics, especially the bit about ‘two drifters’…I get teary-eyed.   It ‘s not a magical thing, even though it has magical results.  I’m sure the reason it works , is because it works for ME.  Relaxed handler, relaxed dog.  Find a song that works for you and your dog. It should be smooth and flow gently. You must love it and it must make you feel calm.’Moon River’-Lyrics by Johny Mercer. (Music Henry Mancini) “MOON RIVER” ‘Moon river, wider than a mile.  I’m crossing you in style, one day.  Oh dream weaver, you heart breaker, Wherever you’re going I’m going you’re way. Two drifters off to see the world. There’s such a lot of world to see. We’re after the same rainbow’s end- waiting ’round the bend, my huckleberry friend, Moon river, and me.  

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