Stylus Counsel | Area Resident’s Records

Track 41: Bark Or Howl Under The Influence Of ...

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I didn’t know Labradoodles were howlers. I always imagined that to be mostly a hound or Husky thing — but I’ve had two in a row now with a healthy set of pipes.

The late Max used to howl at sirens, particularly fire trucks. Without fail, even on YouTube. But my current Doodle Benny, howls far more often. He’ll break into song whenever I blow my nose, one of the kids is repeatedly called for supper, or if he hears a car alarm on TV. But if you really want to get him going, our ornamental accordion will get him bellowing. Indeed, music prompts Benny like nothing else.

I first noticed this while my cyclist daughter was in the basement training. She was blasting her tunes while running on the treadmill. Hooligan by Baby Keem came on and Benny went berserk: “Aaaawhooooooo!”

At first I was worried it was hurting his ears or stressing him out, but his tail is always wagging, so he seems happy enough about it. Hooligan isn’t the only song, either. He also gets going in earnest whenever Moonshine Freeze by This Is The Kit is playing. It’s actually hilarious to watch. The moment the song begins, he recognizes it and moves closer to the speakers. I think it’s the muffled bass and timbre of Kate Stables’ voice. Though it’s the only song of theirs that gets him singing. Occasionally, harmonica will also get Benny howling. He certainly has joined in with Bob Dylan. He also gets really into Funky Stuff by Kool & The Gang.

He’s a very expressive doggo — my daughter always laughs at his “human eyes.” So it’s easy to tell when something he hears has caught his attention. He wants you to know. When it comes to music, another one of those things is when other dogs are featured in the recording. Two words Benny knows are “friends” and “puppies,” which both refer to the same thing: Other dogs. If you say to him — “Are there any friends?” he’ll jump up on the sofa and look out the front window, hoping to see another dog. I did this recently while playing the new remix of Dogs from Pink Floyd’s 1977 album Animals. There are two sections of the song with dogs in it. Benny will occasionally howl and bark along, but mostly he’s just driven to try to see where these friends are.

Speaking of the Floyd, their 1971 song Seamus features both a harmonica and a howling dog. Double-whammy. Same with the pseudo-live version of the song in the 1972 film Pink Floyd at Pompeii, called Mademoiselle Nobs. These really get Benny going.

The other one I’ve tried actually comes from a demonstration cassette which came with the 1980s boombox my parents bought so they could listen to Expos games. It was an old JVC, and the demonstration cassette begins with a version of Arthur Pryor’s The Whistler And His Dog.

Benny loves this.

I did a search online and there’s lots of songs people say get their dogs howling, including Someone Like You by Adele, Let It Go from the Frozen movie and Mike Post’s Law & Order theme.

Dogs are related to wolves, who use howling as a way to talk to each other, declare intentions and to show their mood. The howling of one wolf tends to set the others off and they all aim for a unique frequency so they stand out from the others. Apparently, Benny does this when he howls along with my stereo. He’s never on pitch, but that’s by design. He wants to be heard.

There’s actually been a fair bit of study on this. You can even find Spotify playlists designed for dogs — ones to get them excited and ones to chill them out. But I’m interested in creating one with other “friends” in the mix. Songs that feature dogs in the band, as it were.

In addition to the ones I’ve mentioned, there are dogs barking in Been Caught Stealing by Jane’s Addiction, Who Let The Dogs Out by Baha Men, The Dog from The Damned’s 1982 album Strawberries, Sure Shot by Beastie Boys, and Hey Bulldog by The Beatles, from the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. Incidentally, that’s not a real dog — it’s Paul McCartney, whose song Martha My Dear is about his Old English Sheepdog. The dogs heard at the end of Good Morning, Good Morning (from Sgt. Pepper) are real enough, though.

But wait, there’s more: Let’s not forget that wonderful 1971 classic Jingle Bells by The Barking Dogs. There’s also La La La He He Hee by Prince, Buzz Fledderjohn by Tom Waits, Caroline No by The Beach Boys, and Gonna Buy Me A Dog by The Monkees.

If memory serves, there’s howling at the end of Flash, which you’ll find on the Dukes Of Hazzard album. Flash, of course, was the hound belonging to Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best). There are actually some disturbing spoken bits in that song, particularly at the end.

“Oh, he’s a good dog.
Oh, he’s got wrinkles. That’s sexy though.
I just love that dog. I love him. I love him. I love him. I love him, cold nose and all.
Sleeps with me, sometimes. Mama don’t care.”

I believe this is what the Police Services Act refers to as “discreditable conduct.” What I consider discreditable conduct: The stunt Steve Allen pulled on Elvis Presley when he appeared on his show in 1956. Before Presley performed Hound Dog, Allen arranged for a Basset Hound in a bow tie and top hat to be placed on a dog house pedestal onstage for the young rocker to serenade. To Elvis’s eternal credit, he did so with grace and humour — but quickly departed the stage immediately afterward, feeling humiliated.

Caught in a trap, can’t walk out.

 

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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.