Life for a shelter dog, even if it’s a comfortable shelter administered by the ASPCA with as many amenities as can be afforded, is still not the same as having the security of a forever home. Professional violinist Martin Agee knows that and that’s why he volunteers himself and his instrument to help.
Martin Agee has played his violin all over the world, at some of the most prestigious venues with some of the most venerated orchestras, but he readily admits that his favorite gig is playing for his furry friends at the local ASPCA shelter.
“I’ll never forget my first day,” he said in an interview with Medium.com. “Many of these dogs have been traumatized. Here they enter a process of recovery. We’re being kind to them. Some days, I have to hold back the tears. The dogs I play for, it’s at different stages of their recovery, have been injured or neglected.”
Agee was inspired to volunteer after losing his greyhound Melody. It was as much a way for him to grieve as anything else. The violin playing was almost just a passing joke. “I almost jokingly said to some people, ‘Well, maybe I’ll play my violin for the dogs when I’m there,'” he told The Today Show. “Little did I realize that that would become a reality.” He added.
As a reality it may be the best of all possible worlds for the pups; studies have shown that audio stimulation can be very therapeutic. One study in particular said that classical music caused shelter animals to spend time in a more relaxed state, and there’s nothing more classical than Bach which just happens to be Martin Agee’s specialty.
The science behind it is pretty cool, too. In both humans and other animals the auditory cortex and limbic systems are able to manipulate emotions. That’s why we get excited when we hear our favorite songs, or why we groan when we hear the one dubstep song that drops a little too hard. This is just one more connection that we share with the pups.
You don’t have to make a huge logical leap to see how this knowledge can translate to helping animals, especially animals that have come from rough situations, be able to re-adjust and trust humans again.
So, if you want to help, you can find out more about volunteer opportunities at your local shelter or at the ASPCA website. You can make a huge difference in the life of an amazing doggy who’s down on his/her luck!