Music is an incredibly powerful thing. It is a universal language that does not need words to convey emotion. The ancient Greeks believed so deeply in the power of music that they thought it could directly influence a person’s mind, body, and soul.
The field of music therapy recognizes the healing power of music and can be highly effective in helping nonverbal people to express themselves. Other programs provide music to the ill and to the elderly in order to boost their morale.
But music isn’t just for people.
One woman, named Natalie Helm, is using her gift of music in order to help homeless pets at her local animal shelter. Helm, who plays the cello with the Sarasota Orchestra, has started volunteering at the shelter to calm down the dogs there and to help them relax by playing music for them.
Many dogs who have been surrendered to animal shelters have had a hard life. They have often been abused and mistreated, or have been found on the streets. Because of this, they often do not adapt well to the confining environment of an animal shelter, feeling panicked and trapped.
Helm’s goal is to change that by providing soothing music to help them settle into their new—and hopefully temporary until they get adopted—home.
It goes far beyond just helping the animals relax. Animals in shelters are often scared and may have trouble being friendly with people who come to see them, causing potential adopters to see them as antisocial and not wanting to take them home.
By helping these dogs to relax, Helm is not only making them more comfortable but also potentially saving their lives. There are more dogs in need of a home than shelters can take, and many are forced to put down the animals who have not found homes within a certain period of time.
By helping these dogs to relax and be seen in their best light, more dogs are able to go to good and loving homes.
There are too many dogs who are roaming the streets or who are being put down because they do not have a home. What Helm is doing could greatly reduce the number of homeless dogs who are out there, and it is all because of music.
Helm said that the dogs react to the music she plays, and even howl along if the music is exciting. She admitted that rock and roll music can be a little too overwhelming for some of the dogs, and sticks to calmer music.
Helm says that she does not have a lot of money and that this is a way she can give back to the community. After the success of her first concert, where she played holiday songs for about thirty dogs, Helm said she wants to return to the shelter. She plans to schedule repeat performances at the shelter as often as she can.
The executive director of the Sarasota Shelter, where Helm volunteered, said that she was grateful for the concert Helm provided and that she had enriched the lives of the dogs there.