Thursday

Music Soothes the Savage Beast and Rescue Dogs Too


I once rescued a beautiful red and white Basenji youngster named Rhett Butler. One day as I was working in the pet boutique that I managed, a woman walked in with him in her arms and said,"I heard you take in difficult rescue dogs."
I said I often did and she literally shoved Rhett into my arms and fairly flew out of the store. I chased her to her car begging for information on his background.
He had been dropped off at a lake in Kentucky and had been through numerous adoptive homes and returned. She then said she had to go because she had driven two hours to bring him to me...I was perplexed to say the least and a little bit angry since she didn't call to see if I could take him...
So that night the little red Basenji joined my household temporarily. I had no knowledge of his behavoural issues but I did know one thing from my past experience as a dog show trainer/exhibitor.... Basenjis could be tenacious, stubbborn and destructive in a mannner that would rival any terrier or bully breed times ten!
But to my surprise he was a dream to live with. Fully housebroken, respectful of me and my other dogs,calm when the situation called for it but always ready to jump in the front seat of my Jeep ( wearing a seatbelt of course) and go somewhere. He loved my neighbors and their kids and I often took him to work where he enjoyed greeting customers and their pets. He was handsome and debonaire, but I suspected that deep inside lurked a real scoundrel, hence the name, Rhett Butler.
When Rhett first came home with me I gave him rescue remedy and played Beethovens' piano concerto, 'Moonlight Sonata', repeatedly. Many years ago another dog trainer had shared with me that this song seemed to calm the most anxious dogs. I played it on a loop, sometimes for hours and always the dogs, whether my own pets, clients dogs, or rescued dogs were relaxed by this sonata.
One day I was working a Dog Days Festival for the Natures' Recipe company and I took Rhett and my Standard Poodle along for the fun. Both dogs were well behaved and an older couple stopped to admire Rhett. They told me that they were devoted to giving a home to rescued Basenjis and already had five Basenji girls. Their son was president of a Basenji club. I couldn't believe Rhetts' luck! He had the perfect adoptive family!
Two weeks after adopting Rhett they stopped by to show me pictures...the pictures were of a sofa and drapes that had been completely annihilated. The sofa had been stripped down to its' frame and the drapes were shredded within a foot of the ceiling. And this destruction had been done by the beautiful well-mannered Rhett Butler.
I immediately offered to take him back. I had considered running him in ASFA trials and obedience anyway, but they laughed and said they loved him and he was staying. I suggested Moonlight Sonata as audio therapy and they said they would try it. Rhett did calm down and his new home was a permanent one.
Recently my favorite dog trainer, James Watson told me about the Through a Dogs Ear book and CD. I was impressed as this is a much better program than playing Moonlight Sonata over and over and over!
Lisa Spector has recorded songs that are proven to help calm the anxious dog.Rescue shelters and qualified rescues can receive free CD's. I recommend that you check out her site and order her wonderful book if you can. http://throughadogsear.com/ 
And if you can't, at least treat your dog to a little Beethoven.