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BONZ: Harley the Great Dane gives voice lessons

Lately I’ve been thinking, with all this time on my paws, summer would be a great time to take on a self-improvement project.

I thought about doing something about my weight. Ever since I got my hot-weather clip, my human says I have Alpo abs. Whatever. It’s not like I wear a Fido Speedo.

Instead, I’ve decided to go high-brow: voice lessons. For years, my vocal selections have been limited to the woof, the growl, and the whine. What I really want to master is a full-blown howl. And I know just the dog to help. Harley, the harlequin Great Dane.

Don’t let the name fool you. Harley is no biker chick. She spends her days at Raymond James on Ocean Drive. Even though she goes by Baby Girl at the office, Harley is one statuesque diva. Think Jessye Norman in a white lace gown. And when she opens her mouth to sing, Lordy, what a joyful noise! Her human, John Barton, says she’s a mezzo-soprano, and he would know: John sings with the Atlantic Schola Cantorum.

I first heard Harley at a stoplight on Beachland Blvd. She was in the back of a beautiful sedan, chauffeured by John, who was playing classical music on the radio. Harley sat with her hips on the seat, her feet on the floor and her head on John’s shoulder, wailing like a banshee.

You want loud? Play the violin and Harley really cuts loose. She makes those Blue Angels last weekend sound like balsa wood and rubber bands. People say Deborah Voigt could take a lesson or two from Baby Girl.

I figured, I could too.

I showed up for my first lesson bright and early Monday morning. The receptionist, Georgia, called Harley on John’s intercom. “Harley baby, come see me,” she said. Harley told me Georgia buzzes her to the front desk just for fun, and then gives her a treat from the file drawer. She said Georgia doesn’t do that for the other financial advisers.

This time, when Harley trotted out for my voice lesson, she batted her eyes – one blue, one green, and took me back to a quiet room to practice.

Then things got serious. She taught me how to how to throw my head back, nose to the ceiling, and use my diaphragm to really project. I learned the difference between a chest howl and a head howl, and how to pucker my lips to make the sound go even higher. Then she showed me how to sing vibrato – that’s when you move your jaw up and down to get that hound-dog sound.

I’m really looking forward to my next lesson. Harley said I may not need one, something about how I already sounded so howlful. I can’t wait for all my dogs to get back this fall so we organize a Canine Schola Cantorum.

Till next time,

The Bonz

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