As an avid musician, animal services officer Chad Olds is used to playing for a crowd — but he never expected that dogs would become his biggest fans of all.
On Fridays, Olds is on duty at Vance County Animal Shelter in North Carolina to help load animals for transport to adoptive homes or other rescues. He usually brings his guitar in to play on downtime.
“If I don’t have a whole lot going on, I’ll fiddle around with my guitar in the office,” Olds told The Dodo. “Frankie Nobles, [the shelter manager], peeked his head in one day and said ‘Hey, you should try playing for the dogs!’”
Within a few days, Olds and shelter manager Frankie Nobles had arranged the details of the concert. It would start in front of the kennels at promptly 2:30 p.m. — just before lunchtime.
Olds picked out the perfect song and, before he knew it, it was showtime.
“I honestly didn’t think it would do anything else but make the dogs more excited about lunch,” Olds said.
But within seconds of the first note, the dogs had stopped barking and were intensely focused on the music. As Olds belted out the ballad and strummed his acoustic guitar, he slowly walked past each of the kennels — and the dogs wouldn’t stop wagging their tails.
“They were all just so quiet,” Olds said. “It completely blew my mind.”
As the song went on, the eager crowd sat and listened — seemingly captivated by the song. Calmness spread throughout the room.
One dog in particular, a 2-year-old brown and white pit bull/shepherd mix named Princess, was particularly moved by the performance.
“She’s usually very timid, but when Chad came up to her with that guitar, she just melted,” Nobles told The Dodo. “The adoption room had never been so quiet and at peace.”
The shelter had been looking into different music to play for the dogs for a while now, Nobles said — but now they’re planning on a concert at least once per month. In addition to that, they also have a program that allows children to come in to read to the animals.
While the concert surely made for an adorable video, the experience also meant a lot to Olds, as it reminded him of the grandmother he lost three years ago.
“I would always sing to my grandma when she was in the hospital in pain,” Olds said. “So when my mom saw that video of me playing for the dogs, she said the look Princess gave me reminded her of how my grandma used to look at me when I’d sing to her in the hospital. Just completely full of love and happiness.”
🎵Vance county animal shelter is adding on to their enrichment program!! Chad Olds, an animal service officer with Vance county played his guitar to a very eager crowd. The adoption room had never been so quiet and at peace. We plan to continue this program so keep watch for more free concerts 🎶 #VCASpets
Posted by Friends of Vance County Animal Shelter on Tuesday, February 13, 2018
As the video of the performance continues to be shared, Olds and Nobles hope that it will inspire other shelters to consider nontraditional methods of enrichment like this one.
“I think that music touches everybody — but this was really remarkable,” Olds said.
Credit: The dodo.