Zero judgment, full creative freedom, and unconditional love.
It often begins with a single belly rub for Charlotte, my brindle greyhound, or a stroke of Hilo and Kona’s, my tuxedo cats, fur. There is no request list, no karaoke lineup these animals are expecting. I could just as easily pet them or initiate play in silence.
But I don’t.
A majority of the time, I am singing to communicate with my animals–butchering an artist’s lyrics to fit the mannerisms and behaviors of my pets. And when I do, I find that afterward, I am significantly happier than I was moments ago.
I can’t say there’s a method to my song selection. Often it’s what last played on my IPod, Pandora, or XM. Occasionally, a random song will jump into my head that requires attention. Take this morning for example.
It began this morning after feeding Charlotte. Once she is fed, she waits patiently on her bed, with a depressed look, until I finish my breakfast and we can go outside. As I had scrolled through the radio stations on my drive home last night, I overheard MAGIC!’s “Rude.” This tune popped into my head, and as I finished my cereal and rose to get Charlotte’s leash, I sang:
Why you gotta be so sad?
You got your dad feeling bad.
Why you gotta be so sad?
I’m gonna take you out anyway.
Later, in my home office, while preparing to write this article, my female tuxedo cat, Kona, was in the chair beside me. I reached over to pet her and broke into her most often used song, a twist on Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana:”
Her name was Kona, she was a kitteh,
With white mittens on her feet and her tail up in the air,
She lived in Chalfont, and liked to sleepeh.
And while others might dispute, none could ever be so cute.
Finally, as I’m writing this, our male tuxedo cat, Hilo, has just strutted into the room, in typical Alpha male fashion. Shuffle has chosen Rage Against the Machine’s “Bombtrack.” I should preface that Hilo has a manx-like tail. When he wants attention, he slides past your leg and gives you what is affectionately called a “stub rub.”
Hey, yo, it’s just another black cat.
And it goes 1, 2, 3 … it’s just another black cat.
Stub, stub, yeah you got a stub.
Stub rub, yeah you gonna rub.
Why do I sing?
I sing for my own amusement. Often, I’m caught up in what others think of me. I stew in anxiety, believing there are far more expectations upon me from others than there really are. That others are constantly judging me. I sing for my own amusement because I know I will not be judged by these animals. Sure, the cats may walk away eventually in their sometimes standoffish manner, but that’s often not a result of my singing (I hope). That judgment-free zone allows me to feel authentic.
I sing to build connection. Since I feel unrestricted in my creativity, I find the creative freedom allows me to become more mindful about my pets. I notice the intricacies of their features. Like how Hilo has a single white eyelash that falls out everything few months. Or, like how the tip of Charlotte’s tongue lolls out of her mouth when she’s sound asleep. I include these intricacies in my songs, and in turn, with the connection deepening song after song, I am even more mindful of my pets in the future.
I sing to express gratitude. Soul Pancake has a video called The Science of Happiness: An Experiment in Gratitude. In the video, individuals rate their happiness after opportunities to express gratitude in different ways. When gratitude is shared verbally, the individuals experience the highest levels of happiness. Sure, I could compose a gratitude list in my journal. I could believe that expressing gratitude to animals that cannot answer back is a futile act. Regardless, I want my animals to know how thankful I am for their unconditional love. Singing to them on a regular basis–appreciating the little things about them–is how I express my gratitude. Each time I’m happier for having done so.
Who are my fellow pet singers out there? What are some of your favorite pet tunes, and with whom do you share them? Does it bring you as much joy as it does me?
Image credit: Scott Heydt