John Kelly's Washington

Readers Share Their Pets' Favorite Tunes With Columnist John Kelly

Jay Leno duets with one of what seems to be many musically inclined dogs. Empire Carpet theme, anyone?
Jay Leno duets with one of what seems to be many musically inclined dogs. Empire Carpet theme, anyone? (By Margaret Norton -- Associated Press)
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By John Kelly
Monday, June 15, 2009

Dogs move to a different drummer.

That's what I decided after my recent item about radio personality David Burd's dachshund, Kenny, who howls to Cher's "Believe." It prompted readers to describe their own musically inspired canines.

M. Willett of Mechanicsville wrote in to say that she and her husband once had a collie/shepherd mix named Sneakers who seemed to have a thing for the Lone Star State. "He used to howl at the music from 'Dallas,' the music from the soap opera 'Texas,' and also any news show. I taped him howling once, and when I played it, he howled with himself."

Ginger McGlothlin's pug, Shadow, attacks the TV whenever the Empire Carpet commercial comes on. "Lucky for me, he is a small dog," Ginger wrote. "He has reacted so badly he damaged the speakers and the cloth covering them on my TV. I now keep potted fake plants in front of the speakers year 'round."

Perhaps the National Science Foundation should study the Empire Carpet jingle. It also affects Pat and Wayne Connoley's miniature schnauzer, Spencer. The Connoleys interpret Spencer's antics as affection, not horror. "He also loves 'The Golden Girls' theme song and also sings when the phone rings," Pat wrote. "Sometimes it's a little too much, but cute."

My old high school classmate Chris Casey has a niece whose Chihuahua gets all riled up whenever anyone sings "Happy Birthday." No other song but that one, Chris reports. "We can even sing the same tune with different words, and it does not have the same effect."

Joe Foley of Woodsboro owned a Sheltie named Chelsea who used to howl to ex-Talking Head Jerry Harrison's song "Man With a Gun." Wrote Joe: "The dog did not howl on any other occasion but could always be counted on to howl to this song. Good dog that lived for 15 years. Also, a good song."

It isn't only dogs who have certain favorite songs. Jan Clark of Ellicott City once owned a Maine coon cat named Bebe who was "a real prima donna (of course) and very standoffish." Jan sang and played the guitar at the time. The only song that Bebe would react to was "Leaving on a Jet Plane." "Without fail, after just the first few notes, Bebe would go nuts: running around the room, rubbing against everything and everyone, purring, rolling on the floor flipping back and forth. She adored that song."

Penny Younce of Luray said her youngest cat's musical infatuation -- with "For Unto Us a Child Is Born" from Handel's "Messiah" -- comes in handy. Wrote Penny: "I've yet to figure it out, but if I need to find her, I just start singing."

Motor Heads

A while back, I wrote about the Kiss and Ride Tango, that awkward dance as husbands and wives (usually) swap places in the car after a drop-off. Steve Halleman of Woodbridge said he could relate: "I've never really tried to analyze why, but my Lovely Wife always gets into the passenger seat and I drive when we go somewhere together. It turned into an issue only once."

Steve was working part time at a Drug Fair in Herndon many years ago. ("You can tell it was a long time ago as there aren't any Drug Fair stores any more," he said.) The couple had only one car, so Steve's wife dropped him off in front of the store.

"As was our habit, I drove. I figured I wouldn't need my keys so I left the car running. We both got out at the same time and out of habit, both locked our doors. As soon as we shut the doors we looked over the car at each other and said something along the lines of 'Aw, shucks!' There we were, with the car running and both of our keys in the car. We had to call a locksmith, and I was very late for work."

Send a Kid to Camp

Yes, all this recent rain bothers me. But then I think that maybe Mother Nature is just getting it out of her system and we'll have a nice, dry summer. That way, kids at Camp Moss Hollow won't have to spend the days in their cabins when camp opens later this month.

You can help support the camp for at-risk youths by making a tax-deductible gift. Send a check or money order, payable to "Send a Kid to Camp," to P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237. Or contribute online by going to and clicking on the donation link. To use MasterCard or Visa by phone, call 202-334-5100 and follow the instructions on our taped message.

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