‘I started piano lessons when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2019,’ says Mel. ‘Learning to play is really difficult, you can’t think about anything else, so it was brilliant therapy while I was going through my treatment.’
8 tips to make your dog happy
Mel also plays guitar, ukulele and flute, all of which play a part in her unique compositions.
‘Last year, I played a piece for my piano teacher, no lyrics, just a nice little tune, and called it Ted, after my friend’s dog,’ she says. ‘She loved the fact that I was writing songs for dogs and the idea just stuck in my head.‘That night, scrolling through Instagram, I saw a friend’s post about her dog, Chips. I couldn’t sleep and I had this tune about Chips going around in my head so I wrote a song about him on my phone. The next morning I got up and wrote the melody.’
On a hot summer day, fill up an inflatable pool with water and ice.
Miss Babs, my four-year-old rescue dog, has been my saviour of lockdown so in return for her emotional support and eternal adoration, I commissioned Mel to write a song about her.‘During lockdown, I’ll speak to the owner (and dog) over the phone or Zoom so I can find out all about them and get an idea of their personality,’ says Mel. When we met Mel over Zoom, Miss Babs — already the superstar — insisted on a rider of hot dogs, tennis balls and a framed photo of one-time Neighbours mutt Bouncer.
Mel attended the Royal College of Art and has had global success with her Colour Me Good range of celebrity colouring books (most notably the Ryan Gosling edition) and Pearl Power, a range of children’s books about gender equality.
‘My husband recently told me that he gets it now,’ she says. ‘Some artists work in watercolours or oils, you work in whatever medium suits what’s in your head the best. And he’s right. Sometimes I write books or poetry, sometimes I paint pictures and sometimes I write songs about dogs.’
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Stories abound of owners whose dogs kept sniffing or licking a mole or lump on their body so they got it checked out, discovering it was cancerous. The anecdotal evidence was later backed up by scientific studies. Dogs are so good at this that some of them are trained to detect cancer, in as little as three hours.
Over the call, Mel gathers material for Miss Babs’ song. The lyrics cover her obsession with tennis balls, the time she tried to play stickie with a naked man and also the time she christened every room of a friend’s new house with a poo.
My favourite line is ‘Good God, the mourners didn’t invite a dog to their funeral but you went anyway, just for the buffet, you should’ve taken flowers…’ based on her recent capers at a local cemetery.
‘I see this as another art project,’ says Mel. ‘It would be nice to have some kind of exhibition, which will probably be a concert for dogs, and maybe do a tour of rescue centres where I write songs about the dogs who are up for adoption.’
All the lyrics are unique to your dog and each song tells their story — it’s the perfect tribute to your furry best friend.
‘People do get quite emotional about it,’ she says. ‘Everyone I’ve written a song for has cried when they’ve heard it — in a nice way!’And so did I. It’s so brilliant, it went straight in at No.1 on my playlist. Naturally, the fame has gone to Miss Babs’ head and she’s upped her naughty antics — all good material for that difficult second album. Commission a song at songsfordogs.me. Listen to Miss Babs’ song via Soundcloud.
Wow, check out those choppers! Puppies have 28 teeth and normal adult dogs have 42.
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