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 comfort and safety 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 to Medium. "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 and/or neglected."
Agee was inspired to volunteer after losing his greyhound Melody. It was as much a way for him to and when he first joined the volunteer program it was just as a reader, and jokingly wrote on his application that maybe he'd play his violin for the animals.
"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."
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, with one study in particular saying 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 that one song that makes us groan. We can't really help but relax when we hear certain sounds, like rain drops hitting a window sill. And we can't help but grind our teach in an anxious sweat when dubstep rears its industrial head.
You don't have to make a huge logical leap to be able to see how this knowledge can translate to helping animals that have come from a rough situation readjust 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 animal!
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