Dog Blog

Sunday, November 27, 2011

As it turns out, Beau and Peaches both love to hear me play the piano.  I recently bought a used Boston upright, a Steinway brand (designed by Steinway & Sons and built at the Kawai factory in Japan), from Sherman Clay.  It has a rich but bright tone and is a far better instrument than I have ever owned.  Beats the Story & Clark I learned to play on as a child, though I heard it again at my brother's house on Thanksgiving, and it does still have a nice, mellow tone.  It is not nearly as responsive to the player as the Boston is, though.  This piano's sound fills the room in a way no other piano I've had ever could.  When I was first married, I bought an old junker upright, then had a new Kawai some years ago but sold it.  Since then I have sorely missed having a piano to play.  

I found all my old sheet music stored in my Aunt Iris's old suitcase in the attic, all except for the well-worn book of Christmas music I used to play many years ago for my family at this time of year on the old S&C.  I was glad I didn't have to dig too deep to find it because I'd need a shovel; there's so much junk piled up in there.  When I flipped through pages of the Bach Preludes I used to play, I thought I'd never be able to play them again like I had before, but it's amazing how the brain so efficiently stores what you learned decades ago in childhood--a very good argument for reinstating music and the other arts at the elementary school level.  An education comprised of only science and math and smattering of English is hardly an education at all.  This was like pulling something out of an old dusty filing cabinet; you brush it off and it's as good as new. All that I had learned in those eight years of piano lessons I took from age 6 to 14 (thanks, Mom and Dad!) came back to me very quickly.  

Yesterday when I was playing a lively selection, the dogs came into the music room, got all feisty and started frolicking with each other like puppies.  Seeing two senior bassets do this is amazing.  What a delight to see them engaging in their joyful dog dance.  How I wish I'd had my camera at the ready, but if I'd gotten up to search for it, they would have immediately ceased their gavotte.

This afternoon I decided to go over to Klein's Music to browse through the sheet music.  I love that store and I have a great guitar teacher I take weekly lessons from there.  The store reminds me of Jack's House of Music, which used to be located at Country Club Center and was my music mecca back in the 60s and 70s.  I bought so many Hohner harmonicas for my dad there, which I routinely gave him for Christmas and birthdays. (I wish I had some of them back now that he's gone, especially the old Hohner Echo Harp I played with as a child.)  Jack's even used to sell pianos.  Sherman Clay in Roseville seems to be the only place left in Sacramento that deals in new pianos.  

Today I bought the sheet music I was missing from the old days and a few new pieces to learn, including Debussy and some Christmas hits, like the songs from A Charlie Brown Christmas, "Believe" and "Santa Baby."  I also bought an easy book of Christmas songs for guitar.  Funnily enough, I practice my music far more eagerly than I ever did when I was a child.  I guess the difference now is that I really want to do it.  I absolutely hated having to practice as a kid.  It was like pulling teeth to make me do it.  I just saw it as time I wasn't outdoors playing with my friends, and to kids that's time wasted.  

I'm having a ball rediscovering the musical side of myself after all this time, and Peaches and Beau are joining in the fun,  too.  It's so great to have a piano again and also have dogs with "ears" for music.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I was thrilled to learn that a Sacramento shelter has been emptied and cages are vacant, at least for a little while.  Too bad it can't stay that way, but of course it won't for very long.  Perhaps all the shelters in the region should consider hosting events like 11-11-11, offering deep discounts to help place more shelter pets in new homes.  It's nice to know that so many pets will have a good home for the holidays, and for the rest of their lives one hopes.

Fact is, not everyone is able or willing to pay as much as it usually costs to adopt a pet from a shelter.  It can be a deterrent for many.  I was nearly discouraged by the $250 required to spring Beau from the Stockton shelter (how glad I am that I did pay it--I would have missed having the sweetest dog ever and the greatest love of my life).  Private rescue groups usually charge much more; of course, that fee helps cover medical care and myriad costs associated with maintaining a rescue operation, which must be difficult in this economy.  I hope that all the people who adopted a pet for $11.11 on Veteran's Day were made aware that it's a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of caring for a pet throughout its lifetime.  Last night while sorting out old stacks of papers, I came across all the receipts from my last five basset hounds (Dolly, Bramble, Patti, Daisy, and Bubba), and it totaled thousands of dollars.  The most expensive receipts for care were from VCA hospitals in the area.  If we can't have universal health care for all the people in this country, perhaps we can get it for all our beloved pets.  Either way, adopting a pet is a major commitment, not to be taken lightly.  

I long for the day when there are no more homeless pets, and it's because they've all been adopted or weren't bred (and inbred) in the first place.  On that note, I must say that I was appalled when I talked to someone at the Sacramento City shelter the other day about finding a Scotty or Scotty mix to adopt for my mom.  I requested the number of a local terrier rescue group and was instead advised to go to a breeder.  What????  Is that the advice they give to people seeking to adopt a pet?  With shelters  overfilled with homeless pets due in large part to overbreeding?  I couldn't believe my ears.  

Speaking of ears...        

I've discovered that Beau has an ear (well, two actually) for music.  I'm learning to play the guitar, and whenever it's time to practice, he comes into the room and makes himself comfortable on his soft bed to keep me company while I play.  I wonder how he will react when my new piano arrives this Friday and I start playing that instrument?  It's been many years since I had a piano, so I'm very excited about getting another one after all this time.  I hope I remember how to read music!  No matter how poorly I play, though, I doubt my conservatory canine won't mind.  Truth to tell, he just loves to be wherever I am at any time of day, but I really do think he also likes the sound of the music.  None of my other dogs have ever shown any real music appreciation, although I remember that one of my dogs, a mongrel named Snoto, used to like to sit on the piano bench while I played.  Music doth have charms to soothe just about anyone.