Dogs howling along as their person plunks on the piano. Cats meowing when their human strums the guitar. A cow that moos in time as his person sings a cappella melodies. Birds…..singing. Is your pet a music lover? How can you know if your animal enjoys music? Animal communicator Shannon Cutts of Animal Love Languages talks about yet another shared interest that crosses species boundaries – music.
My parrot, Pearl, is 23 years old this year. He and I first met when he was a downy five-week-old chick. As I share in Love & Feathers, it was love at first sight. He came home with me that very next day.
But truthfully, Pearl’s first love was always my dad.
And each time we visited my folks’ house I was reminded of this fact all over again. The moment Pearl spotted my dad, it was like I ceased to exist. He spent all day long perched on Dad’s shoulder or on the neck of Dad’s guitar as he strummed.
And they would SING together. Oh how they sang.
Dad loved bluegrass music, and he knew all the chords to hundreds of classic songs. Dad would joke, “where’s my lead singer?” And then he and Pearl would head back to the music room while Mom and I went thrifting.
It doesn’t feel like too much of a stretch to say that music itself became a kind of common language for Dad and Pearl – a way to express their mutual feelings of joy, love and connection to each other.
And music has also served to help me meet another one of my avian’s essential needs in a way nothing else I have found could quite manage to do.
Pearl has always struggled with separation anxiety. In the wild, cockatiels are a flocking prey species. Safety is all about being together. If you are alone, you are likely next in line to be plated and served. I am Pearl’s flock. When he can’t see me he gets very nervous. For years I’ve struggled with how to best address this when I have to leave the house. I’ve tried leaving the television on, playing the radio on the classical or bluegrass channel, even buying CDs of music that is supposed to be soothing to birds.
None of it has worked. Until now. A company called Pet Acoustics recently released a tiny boombox called the Avine that comes pre-programmed with a playlist created with avian ears in mind.
Pearl LOVES this thing.
As soon as he hears the (by now extremely familiar) strains of the first tune, he makes a happy chirp. What is even more fun is that I find the music relaxing as well. And so does my mom. Even our dog seems to like it. So much so that Mom and I often forget to turn it off after we get home, even though it plays the same handful of songs over and over and over again…..
Where am I going with all this, you might be wondering?
In my experience, my pet clients suffer less from overactive mental activity in the form of thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. But this is only because where we human animals tend to default to intellectual thought, our non-human animal companions default to feelings.
Again, at least in my experience to date, it could even be accurate to say our pets “think in feelings.”
You or I might quite naturally reach for our phone to cue up a favorite playlist that will distract our mind away from repetitive stressful thoughts.
So it isn’t a stretch to imagine that providing our anxious or sad or fearful pet with music to listen to could create a similar distraction from chronic stressful emotions – a welcome pattern interrupt of sorts that offers relief.
Music for pets is one tool I often suggest when I am working with my human and pet clients. Would music add value and enjoyment to your pet’s life? Let’s find out!