Orchard greets Martin Agee. As soon as the bow hits the strings, Orchard calms down. Photos provided by the ASPCA.

Soothing Victimized Dogs With Bach and Beethoven

Michele C. Hollow
Tenderly
Published in
5 min readAug 19, 2019

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Martin Agee loves Bach and so does his two- and four-legged fans. The two-legged ones have heard him perform at Lincoln Center, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the New York Chamber Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra, and many others. Soon he’ll play his violin in Hugh Jackman’s world tour and in December will be in the orchestra pit for the Broadway production of West Side Story.

When he’s not performing for people, he brings his violin to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) so the dogs in attendance can be soothed by Bach’s, Beethoven’s, and Handel’s sonatas.

Coney gets ready to take a nap while Martin Agee performs.

Agee became a volunteer at the ASPCA a little more than two years ago. “It was at a point in my life that I wanted to reconnect with animals,” he says. “It was a few years after Melody, my greyhound, died.”

Agee took it hard and thought about volunteering. “My schedule keeps me busy,” he says. “Volunteering was a good way to be around dogs.”

“I took the ASPCA’s orientation training and became an adoption counselor,” he says.

Orchard is soothed by the soft sounds of Martin Agee’s violin.

The one program that caught his attention was reading to the animals. “Storytelling was designed specifically to socialize victimized dogs brought in through the ASPCA’s partnership with the New York Police Department (NYPD),” says Kris Lindsay, Senior Director, of the ASPCA’s Animal Recovery Center (ARC) and Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment (CARE).

The dogs in ARC and CARE also arrive through the ASPCA’s partnership with its Humane Law Enforcement and Community Engagement programs. “The dogs often have a wide range of socialization experience, with varying levels of medical and behavior issues,” says Lindsay.

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Michele C. Hollow
Tenderly

I’m a journalist covering pets, wildlife, health, mental illness, and social justice.