Agee grows attached to the dogs for whom he plays. When they’re adopted, he misses them but finds it rewarding to know they’ve moved on to the next chapter in their life.
“And maybe there will be music there as well,” he said.Playing for shelter dogs is also fulfilling from a musical perspective. Public performances under bright lights and scrutiny can be intense. Practicing at home can be challenging as Agee repeats technical passages over and over to perfect them — to the disdain of his adopted cat, Jack, who invariably leaves the room as soon as he spots the violin.
“Here (at the ASPCA) I just feel like I can come and just make music,” he said. “And I know that no matter what comes out, really, that my audience is going to in some way benefit from it. At least, that’s my hope.”Kris Lindsay, senior director at the ASPCA, said Agee’s music has been a wonderful addition to the storytelling program.
“It’s really incredible to watch the impact his music has on the dogs and how quickly they respond,” she told TODAY.
Many dogs in the Animal Recovery Center are brought in by officers of the New York City Police Department after responding to animal cruelty complaints . Often, the dogs need immediate medical or behavioral intervention and can be very scared, Lindsay said. The ASPCA staff develops rehabilitation plans on a case-by-case basis, and the storytelling program typically plays an important role in helping the dogs recover and be ready for adoption.“When the volunteers come to read to the dogs or to provide music, in Martin's case, they're providing much-needed socialization,” she said. “This brings the dogs an opportunity to meet new people and learn that strangers bring good things. … What we have seen is that the storytelling program has made a world of difference for our dogs.”
A Beatles hit. It’s rumored that, at the end of the Beatles song, “A Day in the Life,” Paul McCartney recorded an ultrasonic whistle, audible only to dogs, just for his Shetland sheepdog.