Friday, August 13, 2010

You can call me Mel

I recently took Doreen to see a concert at the casino: a double bill of living legend Ray Price and "Hee Haw" star Mel Tillis.

If it isn't obvious, I'm a huge fan of Ray Price. Back in the late 40's, he played with Hank Williams, often filling in for him when Hank was too drunk to perform. And in the late 50's, he discovered a country music legend: Willie Nelson. Today, at age 84, Price still tours regularly, and his rich, deep voice is still astounding. (Although this isn't the best quality, here's a clip of him playing with Willie Nelson and Mike Huckabee last year.)

Mel Tillis I'm not as familiar with. Most of his more popular stuff ("Coca Cola Cowboy," "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town") is from the 70's, my least favorite decade for country music. And having never watched "Hee Haw," I didn't know Tillis had a trademark stutter that he often joked about.

I bring all this up because after the show, I did some reading about stuttering, and being a doggie hypochondriac, I think Dempsey may have a stutter. Here's the evidence:

According to Google Health, symptoms of stuttering include "hesitancy in starting sentences or phrases," "jaw jerking," and "involuntary movements of the head or other body parts."

Dempsey only does these things when I ask him to "speak," not when he barks at squirrels or strange noises in the night. It's almost like performance anxiety, which, of course, is a cause of stuttering in people. People who stutter don't typically stutter when they talk to themselves, or when they talk to an animal. Again, Dempsey fits the description: He never seems to "stutter" when he's play-barking with another dog.

I know this all sounds like a joke, but I'm serious: Do dogs stutter? Apparently, about 7% of zebra finches stutter, and scientists are using zebra finches as an animal model to study stuttering in humans. I haven't found anything about stuttering in dogs, so I'm wondering if anybody else has ever observed it?

(Isn't it amazing how I can take any topic and turn it into a conversation about Dempsey? He really is an endless source of fascination for me.)

1 comment:

  1. Belle does the same thing! In fact, she used to rear before she would actually bark - something I had a dickens of a time untraining.