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Reflecting on a FABULOUS Barkworld Experience!

A week ago, I was in Atlanta for Barkworld Expo. The fabulous learning and petworking opportunity feels like months ago, since it was pre-Superstorm Sandy devastation. However, writing this is helping me recall all of the fabulous experiences of Barkworld, including all the ways that I learned how to expand my dream of helping improve the lives of dogs worldwide.

Lisa with 5 week old CCI pups

First, a big thank you to Eukanuba. I submitted my blog post titled “Paws Crossed for a Trip to Barkworld” to their “Win a Free Trip To Barkworld” contest, and I won a free conference pass!!! It also brought a huge smile to my face when I later learned that Eukanuba is partnering with Canine Companions for Independence. You won’t want to miss their livestream channel of a litter of pups from CCI, currently seven weeks old. Since a friend of mine is a breeder keeper for CCI, I was fortunate enough to personally meet and hold a litter of  five week old pups recently.

Back to my Barkworld experience, it started as soon as I landed in Atlanta. Bayer Animal Health arranged to pick us up from the airport in a limo. It was so fun meeting in person many of the bloggers I only new from twitterland. And, I was particularly thankful for the limo ride, so that I made it in time to the first event.. “Social Petworking Offline….Speed Dating” for bloggers. I was familiar the with popularity of speed dating, which I’ve tried and didn’t care for in the “single” world. But, in the pet world, I LOVED it. Bloggers had seven minutes to meet and greet brands. It was such a fabulous way to start Barkworld. In addition to meeting new brands, I was able to personally meet representatives from brands I had worked with, including Bayer Animal Health, Adopt-A-Pet.com and the APSCA. Bayer, in partnership with AdoptAPet.com, had sent Through a Dog’s Ear to 1,000 shelters last year, where it is helping to increase adoption rates, and ASPCA was one of our first two pilot shelters to help us launch our “Music in Shelters” program in 2008.

The costume contest, on the first night, was fun for all. People were confused why I was dressed as a cat, when I create music for dogs. They were soon to find out that Through a Cat’s Ear is in the works, to be released early 2013.

 

The dogs worked hard, dressing up and walking the runway for their costume contest. Some were outright pooped by the end of the evening. The Atlanta Dog Spa sponsored the costume party, and I later found out that they play our Calming music (from the Canine Noise Phobia series) in their daycare.

The first day started with a workout for me along with dropping in to meet canine holistic coach, fab trainer, and Doga instructor Anna Bettina. (Always great meeting trainers that use Through a Dog’s Ear in their classes.) I was very eager to hear Matt Meeker’s Keynote: Building, Growing & Sustaining Online Communities. If anyone knows this topic, it’s Matt Meeker, the co-founder of MeetUp.com. I’ve attended countless meet-up gatherings, related to business, health, and canine topics. And, I had just recently started my first meet-up: Concerts for people AND their Dogs!, as I’ve recently expanded my concerts to include four-leggeds in the audience. Matt is also the co-founder of BarkBox, and ever since I first read about it, I thought Through a Dog’s Ear CD’s would be a perfect inclusion in their gift boxes.

I’m now realizing that if I mentioned everything terrific at Barkworld, this blog would go on for days. For now, I’ll just mention a few more of my favorite highlights…

Lisa at age 11 with Doodle

Blogging up the Right Tree: Exploring and Defining your Inner Bark by Dr. Pia Salk, psychologist, writer, animal advocate, spokesperson, blogger for Martha Stewart, and spokesperson for Adopt-A-Pet.com. Pia asked us to think of our first childhood experience with pets, to see if there was any relevance to how that has influenced our lives. I’ve always tossed off my childhood years as they related to pets, as if they were insignificant. I loved our family dog Doodle, a blond Cocker Spaniel, but I always associated her as my sister’s dog. I never really considered myself a Dog person until I adopted Byron (R.I.P.), my Golden.

Lisa playing the piano as a young teenager for Doodle and Niki

However, when I recalled my first memory of a dog, I closed my eyes and remembered Doodle lying by my feet as I played the piano, for hours daily. It couldn’t be more relevant to my current career, as I’ve combined my two greatest loves ~music and dogs! I had tears in my eyes as I realized the huge significance of having Doodle in my life.

The other presentation that brought tears of joy to my eyes was a training demonstration by Lina Eklof, the dog training program coordinator at Petco. I had been enjoying learning about Petco’s inspiring “Think Adoption First” and “Train to Adopt” campaigns. Lina brought a Beagle to the stage and showed us how to train polite manners to dogs, using positive reinforcement, so that they are more adoptable.

Lina with Lulu

I expected sit, down, go to your mat, etc. However, the first thing she did was teach the Beagle the “Do Nothing Exercise”. She reminded us that dogs spend more time just “doing nothing” in homes than almost any other activity. And we expect them to just be able to do nothing. If they can’t, it’s hard to get them adopted. This made complete sense, even though it really had never occurred to me. When watching the demonstration, I also realized how much Music to Calm your Canine Companion helps dogs just do nothing.  Watching Lulu learn how to do nothing and be rewarded for it was great entertainment for all. Other polite manners taught include “Sitting with Attention,” “Doorway Manners,” and “Take Treats Nicely”, something I still am teaching Gina.

There were so many more presentations that I really loved along with all of the fabulous networking opportunities. A huge thank you to Denise Quashie for her tremendous work in putting together such a wonderfully inspiring and well organized conference. I can hardly wait until next year’s Barkworld! And it may take me that long for Sanchez and Gina to work their way through all of the fun swag!

Gina is crazy about retrieving her new green textured Air Play ball from Petco! (part of the great swag from Barkworld)

     Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Through a Dog’s Ear

Calm your Canine Companion Music Series

Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!

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I’ll Choose Door Number …???

A year ago my life changed. Because of my deep desire to improve the lives of dogs using sound therapy, I made the decision to sell my music school that I owned for 14 years and devote my full working time to the growth and expansion of Through a Dog’s Ear. Although it appeared as a decision I made, it felt as if life just made it for me. I just followed the signs that were showing up.

It is often said that when one door closes, another opens. When I said good-bye to my music school, I wasn’t sure what doors would open, I just trusted there were magnificent gifts behind all the doors.

Door #1: In January 2011, I attended Clicker Expo and met Victoria Stilwell, star dog trainer on Animal Planet’s “It’s Me or the Dog”. She had played Music to Calm your Canine Companion for stressed out dogs on several of her shows, with great results, so she was very familiar with Through a Dog’s Ear. Through the course of several months, Joshua Leeds and I enjoyed phone conferences with her, brainstorming ideas for a collaborative project. When discussing the needs of dogs, we wanted to create an auditory tool for the prevention and treatment of canine anxiety disorders, hence the creation of our joint project, the Canine Noise Phobia series.

CNP is an innovative desensitization training tool that combines three distinctive elements:

  • progressive sound effects (distant/close)
  • specially-designed psychoacoustic music (Through a Dog’s Ear)
  • reward-based reinforcement protocols (Victoria Stilwell)

We launched CNP at the Association of Pet Dog Trainer’s Conference in San Diego in October 2011, where Joshua and I were co-presenting. We were thrilled with the enthusiastic response from all the trainers and have enjoyed all the wonderful testimonials coming in since the October launch, including this from N. Weller in St. Louis, MO.

“I am preparing for the New Years Eve firworks. We are relaxing to the Canine Noise Phobia Fireworks CD. My skittish Greyhound fights hard to stay awake. The subtle fireworks make him stare at the speaker. Then he drifts off. 75+ lb brindle boy, sleeping like a baby. Mom might have to curl up too.”                

Door #2: When we launched our first CD in 2008, we knew that it would help calm dogs in shelters (as phase one of clinical research was tested in shelters), and we were hopeful that it would help increase adoption rates. So we started providing CD’s at cost to shelters and rescue organizations. The shelters played the two CD’s we sent them, Music to Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 1 and 2, and foster homes of the rescue organizations played them for their transitioning dogs. Our publisher, Sounds True, donated 2,500 CD’s to be sent home with the new adopters to play in their homes for their newly adopted dogs. By 2011, we had sent CD’s to about 400 shelters and many had reported an increase in adoption rates. The music was creating a quieter shelter environment, encouraging visitors to stay longer, and adoption rates were increasing.

In early 2011, Adopt-A-Pet.com had become familiar with Through a Dog’s Ear and our shelter program. We both share the mission of helping shelter and rescue dogs find their forever homes. They were able to match us with a corporate sponsor that donated 1,000 copies of Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 2 to 1,000 shelters throughout the United States at the end of 2011. We are thrilled that Through a Dog’s Ear music is helping even more dogs find their forever homes.

Door #3: On January 25, 2012, Through a Dog’s Ear was featured on Good Morning America on a segment called “Stress Busters for Anxious Pets”. We were honored to be one of four sensory integration products that was recommended by “America’s Vet”, Dr. Marty Becker.

Door #4: Two weeks after the Good Morning America feature, Music to Calm your Canine Companion Vol. 1 reached Billboard’s Classical Top 20 chart! When I was a student at Juilliard, I never could have guessed that I’d be going through the doggie door to make Billboard. Well, all I can say is, “My tail’s waggin!”

What’s behind Door #5? We create therapeutic sound tracks cross species. Stay tuned for some pretty exciting news about music we are releasing this year for an additional two species. What species are you interested in introducing to psychoacoustics?

Have you tried Sound Therapy for your dogs? Through a Dog’s Ear is the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system.

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Through a Dog’s Ear

Calm your Canine Companion Music Series

Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!

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Be Santa for Homeless Pets

First thing every morning, I write on an index card, “By combining my passion for music with my love of dogs, I improve the lives of dogs and people worldwide.” As a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and devout dog lover, it is a statement I am deeply grateful to write. It guides my daily decisions and manifests itself in Through a Dog’s Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system.

Last December, I was contacted by Border Collie Rescue Texas. They had just taken in 25 dogs from a horrendous hoarding situation. These dogs had never been with people, never been indoors, and required extra professional expertise as they moved into foster homes. My eyes filled with tears as  I read the email request for Through a Dog’s Ear CD’s to be used in recovery efforts. Contributing my music to dogs in this way means even more to me than appearing on a concert stage.

Later, I heard from Sam Ford, executive director of Border Collie Rescue Texas. He drove three of the Border Collies from Texas to Illinois. Dog’s Ear music was playing for them during transport and greatly helped settle nervous dogs on their long journey to foster homes. This is what I live for! I felt like my heart was with them along with my music!

We started providing Dog’s Ear music at cost to shelters in 2008, while our wonderful publisher, Sounds True, provides free CD’s for the adopters of new shelter dogs. After packaging 50 free CDs for the Border Collies, I pondered what else we could do to help other homeless pets.

As  a socially conscious company, we understand the importance of giving back to our communities. Therefore, we are always looking for opportunities to benefit shelters and rescue organizations. Research shows that the consideration of the sensory environment, be it in a shelter or your home, is critical to the long-term health of our animals. Humans can do yoga, drink green tea, and have other stress relief strategies at hand. Dogs and cats don’t have access to relaxation or anti-anxiety techniques.

Thanks to a new partnership with Adopt-A-Pet.com in 2011, Through a Dog’s Ear music now plays in over 1,200 shelters internationally. We always hear from grateful shelter managers about how much calmer and quieter the shelter environment is with the addition of our music. In addition to calming dogs, the quieter environment creates longer visiting times for people and often increases adoption rates.

Wanting to do more to help, The Through a Dog’s Ear team decided to create a very fun holiday party and contest last year and now it has become an annual tradition. For seven days, from 12/5 thru 12/11, we are giving away free downloads. Simultaneously, we are having a very fun word contest. While picking up your free download, have fun playing the word game each day this week. Ten winners will choose their favorite animal rescue organization or shelter. We will send our 3 CD Calm your Canine series to their designated rescue organizations or shelters. The grand-prize winner will also receive a complete Through a Dog’s Ear 2011 Holiday Gift-Pak which includes seven CD’s and our Through a Dog’s Ear book. Last year, we had over 100 entries in the first hour and wanted everyone to win, so we donated over 100 extra CD’s to the chosen rescues and shelters. Watch the video of my trip to the post office playing Santa.

1st Bag of 100 CD's being sent to Rescue Organizations and Shelters
Donated CD’s Sent to Rescue Organizations and Shelters for Xmas

Play with us this week at the Dog’s Ear Take the High Road, Get the FREE Download seven-day party. Receive free music while helping pets in need. It doesn’t get better than that!!

Do you have any wonderful stories to share about your experience with shelter or rescue pets? Thanks for posting in a comment below. Also, during the course of the week, please come back daily and comment on how your doggie household is enjoying each new free download.

Happy holidays from the Through a Dog’s Ear team to your canine household!

Have you tried Sound Therapy for your dogs? Through a Dog’s Ear is the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system.

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Through a Dog’s Ear

Calm your Canine Companion Music Series

Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.

Top Post Image: Chloe – Rescued by Terri O’Connor from Border Collie Rescue Texas