I have had complaints all over the internet that me playing with Cody and Sierra, aka the Singing Dogs, is abusive and hurts their ears. I just want to make it clear that a couple of points and clear the air about Cody and Sierra's singing.
- Not Trained: The Singing Dogs are not trained to “sing” and it is not like I have spent hours and a lot of effort to make either of them learn to sing. It is just for fun and if they sing great, it is not like I am trying to go on the tour with the singing dogs. (Of course if you think we can go on tour and want to give us a record deal, I am totally up for that.)
- They Like Singing: Cody and Sierra both actually really like to sing. Often they will come into the living room when I am playing my saxophone to sing songs with me. I do not force them at all to do anything. Both Singing Dogs are free to leave the room if they don't want to sing or don't like my saxophone playing. Unfortunately… that happens quite often.
- I Wouldn't Play if it Hurt Their Ears: If I truly thought that playing my saxophone with Cody and Sierra hurt their ears I would have stopped playing saxophone. I love playing and listening to music but would not want to hurt my dogs in any way, shape, or form.
Believe me I appreciate and understand people's concerns about the singing dogs. There are a lot of other people in the world who do abuse dogs and animals. I think your efforts are better spent focusing on those people though and not making a big thing of our YouTube videos.
I have to thank Devan McGuinness for letting me know about this great Dogs in Music article by Stanley Coren that featured on Modern Dog Magazine. (She wrote about us on Babble by the way.) Apparently there have been several musicals written for dogs and with dogs. Hey, maybe Cody and Sierra could try out? 🙂
While the Dogs in Music article is interesting, this part of the article should calm anyone who thinks playing music with dogs is bad.
Scientific analyses suggest that canines have a sense of pitch. Recordings of wolves have shown that each will change its tone when others join the chorus. No wolf seems to want to end up on the same note as any other in the choir. This is why a dog howling along with a group of singing humans is instantaneously noticeable. He is deliberately not in the same register as the other voices, and seems to revel in the discordant sound he creates.
The kind of human music that most often induces dogs to howl is produced on wind instruments, particularly reed instruments such as clarinets or saxophones. Sometimes dogs can be induced to howl by a long note on the violin or even by a human holding a long note while singing. Perhaps these sound like proper howls to the dog and he feels the need to answer and join the chorus.
It is a pretty interesting article on dogs, music, and singing. I suggest you read the whole article as I found it quite fascinating.
Apparently Cody and Sierra are not quite as famous as some singing dogs. Lyndon Johnson had a singing dog named Yuki that liked to accompany him while he sang.
Probably the most famous human-dog duet ever recorded involved the President of the United States in 1967. President Lyndon Baines Johnson had developed a strong bond with a white mixed-breed terrier bearing the unassuming name “Yuki.” Once, while cameras rolled, Johnson sat in the oval office of the White House, with Yuki on his lap, and gave an impromptu performance. The president first sang a Western folk song and then a bit of an operatic aria, both hideously off key, while Yuki accompanied him with gleeful and vigorous howls. The press reports describing this duet were rather demeaning, and music critics suggested that having the dog howl part of an opera was equivalent to having the president make disparaging comments about classical music. Johnson, however, enjoyed “singing” with the dog and was not the least disturbed by the furor it caused. He even proudly displayed one article that described their performance, noting, “Not all the comments are bad. This one says that I sing almost as good as the dog.”
Too bad the press didn't like Lyndon Johnson and Yuki's duets. Imagine if he had been president when there was Youtube? I wonder if Yuki would have helped his presidential approval rating go up? I bet it would have!
Anyway hopefully people will understand there is nothing bad or terrible about Cody and Sierra singing to the sweet sounds of the saxophone.