2002.10.30 A dog's life in music

Written by David Green.


It’s old news that cows give more milk when they’re listening to Beethoven. That study was completed in England a year ago last June.

Actually, it was a study of slow music vs. fast music vs. no music. Slow was defined as having fewer than 100 beats a minute. That included rock music such as REM as well as Beethoven. Fast music had more than 120 beats a minute.

A pair of researchers from the University of Leicester serenaded a thousand Holstein Fresians with music for 12 hours a day over a nine-week period. The results were impressive.

Cows produced on the average three-fourths of a liter more every day when they listened to music such as “Pastoral Symphony,” compared to those that had no music at all. It probably made them long for the good old days when cows actually went to pasture.

Cows who listened to faster tunes such as the Beatles’ “Back in the USSR” or to Wonderstuff’s “The Size of a Cow” produced “suppressed yields.”

I’m not familiar with the British group Wonderstuff, but cows might have been bothered by the lyrics:

“I said, Oh wow, look at me now

I'm building up my problems

to the size of a cow

The size of a cow

The size of a cow.”

It all makes sense to farmer Neil Cutler who lives near Portsmouth. For every 100 cows, he figures he could earn an extra £15 every day of the year. Less stress; more milk, he says.

That’s the old news. The new news is about dogs and music, but there’s nothing about milk production this time around.

The researcher, Deborah Wells, is from Queen’s University in Belfast. Her study was done at the National Canine Defence League’s Rehoming Centre in Evesham, Worcestershire. That’s probably the home of the famous sauce, as well.

Wells mentioned the cow study and she also made reference to chicken research (radio music, including Pink Floyd, increases egg production), but she thinks she’s the first to investigate dogs and music.

Wells forced 50 dogs to listen to different styles of music and then watched how they reacted. There were three music styles—a pop compilation including Britney Spears, Robbie Williams and Bob Marley), a classical selection including Grieg’s “Morning” and Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” and a heavy music CD including Metallica.

“We had no reason to think that dogs should find classical music more relaxing,” Wells said about the study.

Is she kidding? She really thought dogs would relax with Metallica?

There were no surprises in her findings. Dogs in the kennel made the most noise and stood up more often when heavy metal was played. That’s not to say they didn’t enjoy it, as the headline on her story suggests (Dogs prefer Bach to Britney).

It’s quite possible that Metallica was truly their favorite. Of course they made the most noise; they were having the most fun. From my observations, dogs love to bark and Bach had them barking the least of all. I suppose it would have the same effect on me.

Wells figures her study can be used by kennel workers to calm their canines. Ah, so this study was not for the benefit of the dogs, it was for the employees of the kennel.

Wells’ research could become the worst thing that’s ever happened to a dog in a cage. Maybe canines don’t like Beethoven. Maybe they really enjoy those screaming guitars. Barking is fun.

I think about how I would suffer if I had to spend all day in a cage listening to contemporary country and western music. I would bark, I would drool, I would howl. I would drag my butt across the floor. I would lick myself in places I didn’t know I could reach.

Just give me a can of Alpo for one last meal and then put me out of my misery.

    – Oct. 30, 2002 
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016