My Dog, My Violin and Thunderstorms
by  HeartStrings, Sabine Gonelli, 20/02/2016

I can tell you straight away:
usually Bingo whimpers, cries, and howls when I play my violin.

Everybody who knows him will agree that he has a very relaxed, sweet and cheerful nature. Bingo is a gentleman dog and he always wants to behave exceptionally well. Bingo's dilemma is that he wants to be close to me but at the same time his ears simply can't put up with the harmonics of violin sound.

This is our daily routine:

Bingo comes into my studio when I get ready to practice. He is very well aware what is about to happen. His entrance style is very peculiar and different to when he comes in at other times. But Bingo is hell-bent and unstoppable.
Should the studio door be shut he scratches until I let him in. If the door is only ajar he pushes it wide open with histrionic determination to shuffle to his favourite spot in the room. He curls into his cosy little doggie-bed under my desk and tries very hard to be good and be quiet. Several times have I seen him cramming his hind paw into his ear as his last resort.

At the latest when I hit the E-string (the highest) Bingo's performance will inevitably commence.
Should I not acknowledge his pain, stop my playing, talk to him and tell him that I understand, his occasional whimpers will extend quickly and will finally turn into a blatant howl.
After some time one of us will lose patience. Whether it is him or me, Bingo will make a drama to slowly come out under the desk, thoroughly and vigorously shake, pause and sit or stand between me and my music stand. This comes with a long straight into my face look of reproach. He will then slowly and theatrically leave the room with a slumped head and hanging ears, stop half way through the door frame and sadly give me a final 'good bye' look over his shoulder. There is no hurry whatsoever in any of this. Bingo will then curl up offended in front of the door in the hall and because I don't stop practicing move on to take a nap somewhere in the lounge.

But Bingo dreads thunder

Where we now live thunderstorms occur almost daily during the wet season which lingers for several months. Bingo is a native desert dog where rain is a rare event and thunder almost unheard of.
So Bingo is terrified. Even with thunders rolling far away, not audible for me, he is shaking, restless and his 22 kilograms want to sit on my lap the whole day long. I needed to find a cure and started experimenting.
After some time I discovered that it helps if I sing Christmas carols. Also playing a Mozart concerto on the stereo has a distracting effect. Bingo freezes in front of the speakers and focuses on the music. Interestingly, he can tolerate violin sound in recorded format. Those painful high frequencies must be filtered out then. With further research on YouTube I have found  a whole section of calming your dog with music.

But one night we had a thunderstorm that caused a power outage. That Mozart concerto was hence not available. Also I was hoarse that night and couldn't sing for Bingo when he started to get into his usual tension pattern.
Something had to happen. Contrary to my daily experience with Bingo something made me take my violin out. Similar to what I did at Perth Zoo I played a few soft slow songs for him as we were sitting together in the dark in the lounge. I couldn't really see him but to my surprise he listened without the slightest whine or squeal in absolute stillness.
As I kept playing the thunderstorm slowly moved away. Later that night it suddenly dawned on me that Bingo most probably thinks that I can make the thunderstorm go away when I play this squeaky thing in the darkness.
This is good news! At least he understands now why I have to practice!

You can meet Bingo in person during our online lessons.
He will stay around as long as he can...

Have you played your violin to your animal companion?
What happened?
Please share in the comments!

6 Comments on “

  1. Fantastic reading! I love Bingo so much, such a gentleman character. If he was a human man, I imagine he’d always be well dressed and open doors for the ladies 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Jo. What you are saying about Bingo is so true! Bingo wears a white bow tie at special occasions. It suits him very well!

  2. It’s great to hear about the ‘other man’ in your life. He’s such a cute dog. I know you want to use your music to calm him during thunderstorms, but have you heard of a thunder jacket?

    1. Thank you Kris, for your thoughts. I know Thunder Shirts work for most dogs but unfortunately not for Bingo. He likes wearing it but he will still shake and be scared of thunder, maybe just a little less than without it. Bingo will still need music and human company to make it through a whole thunderstorm.

  3. Hi Sabine, Holger and Bingo!
    Oh be still my heart! My heart skipped a hundred beats when I saw that handsome gentleman Bingo! *** sigh ***
    Everyone needs a Bingo! Sorry to hear though, that he’s not a fan of the violin, still I’m sure he loves EVERY OTHER THING about you Sabine haha!!!
    I remember the way he’d sit with me and look at me with nothing but admiration in his eyes. Aaaahhh, yes, everyone needs a Bingo in their life!
    Hope all is good for you guys! Sending you our loves!
    Ron and Vicky

    1. You are right, Vicky! Bingo is so very special. I am glad you survived your 100 missing heartbeats though!
      Bingo now accepts that the violin is here and he is content that I can do something to chase thunderstorms away.
      Lots of love to you and Ron!

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