Saturday, November 03, 2012

Shakespearean actor narrates world's first bedtime story for dogs ahead of Bonfire Night

Every Shakespearean actor may dream of playing the Prince of Denmark, but for his latest role Simon Callow is making do with another Great Dane. The actor has been handed the challenging task of narrating a bedside story for dogs. Callow has recorded Teddy and Stanley’s Tall Tale, a short story written specially to help calm canine nerves on Bonfire Night. The actor, known for his theatre work uses his soothing tones to bring to life the story, being distributed as a free audiobook.


The recording tells the story of a towering dog called Stanley and his diminutive friend, Teddy. The story uses a number of animal psychology techniques and communicative sound bites that are claimed to capture a dog’s attention and help it relax. Karen Wild, a dog behaviourist, helped to create the recording. She advised closely on the overall structure and the precise words and speech patterns needed to have a relaxing influence on a dog, pointing out the most canine-friendly cadences, the lengths of sounds, intensities, volumes, frequencies and pitch to ensure maximum effectiveness.

The audiobook is designed to be played to dogs several times in the days leading up to the fifth of November, allowing them to become familiar with the sounds and learn by association. Dog owners are advised to play the story at calm times regularly before the fireworks begin. This will improve the story’s effectiveness when played on Bonfire Night and help dogs drift off into slumber. Mr Callow said of the book: “Having two dogs myself I know just how terrifying the sound of fireworks can be to animals. I hope that lending my voice to the bedtime story can go some way to help petrified pups relax this Bonfire Night.”

YouTube link. Audio download. (MP4 file)

Ms Wild said dogs registered certain sounds as inherently calming. “To ensure the story would work, it was created using scientific evidence based on research of the canine mind and their sense of hearing. In my job I know that a settled, happy dog is a joy to own and the bedtime story can help bring a peaceful Bonfire Night for the whole family.” For any dog owners who feel that Callow’s dulcet tones are not enough to calm their pets, experts say that it can help to take dogs for a long walk before the fireworks begin.

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