Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Truth and Lies

I decided to blog about my "truth" and my "lie" since they both involve things I'm personally involved with and enjoy: my dogs and my music.

Okay, time to be honest. My lie: I never competed with my Border Collie mix Katy in a Northern Colorado agility event. My truth: I did indeed sing at a Sunday morning Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in front of 1000+ people.

Now, for the details. I have done obedience training with three of my dogs, sweet old Rottie Carl, scary smart Katy, and crazy Blue Tick Hound Max, now a teenager. Obedience training makes it easier to live with big dogs and actually helps them be "better citizens" when they interact with other people, especially people who're afraid of dogs. Basic commands of sit, down (lie down), stay, come---are commands you use every day with dogs, and if the obedience sessions are taught by loving, dog-centered professionals, your dogs actually LOVE doing the commands. It's a big doggie game. And they do it to please you.

Maybe I was lucky, but I heard about Vince and Tammy by word of mouth a few years ago when Katy was a feisty one-year old. This husband/wife trainer team have a large kennel and training facility (American Dog School) on a farm on the outskirts of Fort Collins, CO, my town. I'd done obedience years before with my dear Sam who was a Lab/Rottie mix and knew the benefits. Those trainers, like so many others, used food treats to gain the dogs' cooperation. Well, imagine my surprise when I learned that Vince and Tammy teach even more to their canine charges and don't use food to do it. Honest. The dogs do it for love. Yep. You stop every few minutes and "love 'em up." Rub your dog's head and ears and gaze into their eyes and tell them what a "good dog" they are. Doncha love it? That technique could be used in a lot of situations, not just dog training.

Okay, now the details behind My Truth---I have been singing with chorales and solo and in duets and small groups since I was about eight years old. Music has always been a huge part of my life, and I loved performing onstage with all those various groups---through school years, in college, and in adult life. During the years I sang with several chorales, we would take a smaller group on tour every three years to various overseas locations. Once to Germany & Austria, another time to England, Scotland, & Wales. And, in June 2001, we spent 15 glorious days touring France.

In Paris, our chamber chorale actually participated in the 11:00am Sunday Mass by providing the sacred music. We sang Mozart's Missa Brevis, which is a beautiful musical gem. Our group had submitted an audition tape the year before and had been selected. That awe-insipring cathedral was packed with tourists and regular folk. The acoustics were amazing, as our voices wafted up into the vaults above and floated past those famous stained glass windows. It was truly a magical musical moment for all of us.

Do you have any "famous building" memories? Any dog training stories? Please share them.

26 comments:

Vicki said...

My last dog, Molly, went to obedience training and we practiced with her at home. She was a fairly good sized dog, tall for a terrier/spaniel mix. Since she learned obedience young, she loved it and all we would have to say was, "Ok, Molly, this is training!" And she would become alert and ready...so cute. She was a very smart dog, and had quite a large vocabulary (ok, she didn't speak words, but understood them!) I had wondered at the time if she would have been good at agility training had we had that available for her.

Sheila Connolly said...

Those medieval builders knew what they were doing with acoustics--and you had the chance to hear music the way it was meant to be heard.

I used to be a medieval art historian, in another lifetime, so I visited literally hundreds of old churches. Years ago I walked into the church at Vezelay in France, one of the great 12th-century pilgrimage churches, where the faithful rallied for the First Crusade. There was a sung mass going on, and I stood in the narthex and wept.

Maggie Sefton said...

Vicki---I know what you mean. If Katy had someone else for an owner, someone who wasn't spending all her time writing novels, she'd probably love those agility trials. But now, she cuts and runs, races around the yard with long-legged hound Max, jumps straight up barking at Sassy Squirrel who hovers on lower tree branches just to tease the dogs. :)

Maggie Sefton said...

Oh, Sheila, I can feel your comment. That music affects you like that even in a regular setting, but in a cathedral where it was meant to be performed---it is truly an emotional and spiritual experience. Celestial. I've had the chance to sing in several of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe as well as gems of small churches. One of the most moving experiences was an evening service during a July summer thunderstorm in Bourges, France. That cathedral is a few meters higher than Notre Dame, they proudly say, and because there was a smaller evening congregation, the sound was truly out of this world. It was if we had all been transported.

And I, too, have a deep appreciation of these medieval jewels. I spent over a decade of my writing life researching and writing historical novels.

Jessica said...

We have a puppy named Romeo who is 15 weeks old...and outweighs my 2 yr old son. Romeo is a blue heeler/shepard mix and unfortunately doesn't listen to a word we say. We start puppy training classes on the 20th...I can only hope they help as much as everyone says they will! Right now, we are still working on potty training (ugh!) and don't chew on the kitten training LOL :-)

Lover of Books said...

I went to a cathedral here in town to hear a Russian choir sing. I just closed my eyes and absorbed the sound.

I never got to hear anyone sing at Notre dame. I sat on the stage at the Orpheum Theatre here in Minneapolis and sang and the music just echoed. It was way too much fun.

signlady217 said...

When my husband was in the Navy, he got a chance to visit Notre Dame, but I don't think anyone was singing while he was there. I know he would enjoy that; he loves music and has a really good tenor voice himself, and plays the accordion and the bass guitar (yeah, weird combo, I know.)

jbstanley said...

What an amazing truth, Maggie! How I wish I had been in Paris to hear you.

Katie said...

when I was 13, my brother Nathan and I were in a choir that had been chosen to sing with a large adult choir, John Aler (tenor soloist) and Dennis Keene as the conductor at St John the Divine in NYC. we sang Te Deum by Hector Berlioz it was an amazing experience, one I won't ever forget. you can even buy me on CD :)

Lindy said...

Until moving to Missouri, I was involved in choral music. For 25 years I got to sing major choral masterpieces with the Arlington Metropolitan Chorus and soul stirring anthems with my church choir. I even got to sing with John Denver when he was performing with the Boston Pops (okay, so I was one of 300 in the chorus, but it was thrilling none-the-less). It is such a privilege to get to be a part of a glorius sound. Someday I am going to get a dog--I want a poodle because I heard they are very smart and they don't shed. First, though, I have to figure out how to introduce the dog to my cats.

Leann Sweeney said...

I did obedience with my shelties and had loads of fun. Shelties are people pleasers--like most herding dogs--so it was pretty easy. But where we went was right by the fire station. Every time the siren went off while we were in class, my Lacey would sit down and howl. By the course end, ALL the dogs would sit and howl when the siren went off. So hilarious.

Maggie Sefton said...

Jessica, LOL. Oh, yes, puppies are such fun and such work. He should definitely benefit from obedience training. You do realize that YOU are being trained along with the dog. You learn how be pack leader, otherwise known as Alpha Dog. yep. You have to be the boss and assert leadership. Dogs are pack animals descended from wolves, as we know. And the pack has a definite structure. There is one lead male and one lead female. So--welcome to your new life, Alpha Dog. :)

Maggie Sefton said...

Lover of Books---You said it perfectly. You and the sound both float up, up and away. Wasn't it a great experience?

Maggie Sefton said...

signlady217----Ohhha tenor! Tell him to get himself to a local chorale and try out. Believe me, those directors will grab him fast. Good tenors are hard to find. Like good men. :)

Maggie Sefton said...

Katie---Ahhhh, St. John the Divine. That's a beautiful cathedral. And Berlioz' Te Deum--a beautiful piece. Perfect. There's something so special about performing sacred works that is transporting. Even in an old high school auditorium.

Maggie Sefton said...

OMG, Lindy! Do you mean the Arlington, VA Metropolitan Chorus? I belonged to the same group years ago!! I grew up in Arlington, VA, across the Potomac from WashDC. We performed Mozart's Requiem. One of my all time favorites.

Maggie Sefton said...

Hilarious, Leann. I love it! And i know what you mean about the herding dogs. Border Collie Katy definitely wants to please.

Maggie Sefton said...

JB---you're sweet to say that. But if you were in paris, I imagine you might find a lot of fun things to do. :)

Sarah said...

I visited London/Scotland many years ago and was awed by Westminster Abbey and the Edinburgh castle. Gorgeous buildings!

Sarah

Kathy McIntosh said...

Ah, yes, walking into Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's opens your soul. How wonderful to sing in the great cathedrals. I did once get the opportunity to work under the amazing director Robert Shaw. He brought out wonderful music from our quite good college choir.
As to amazing dogs, I think my Aussie could have accomplished miracles...but loving us seemed good enough.

Lindy said...

Yes, Maggie, I was with the Arlington (VA) Metropolitan Chorus from 1976 through 1995. I never got to travel with you all because of my work--I always had classes to teach. I loved singing the Mozart Requiem, but the one that had the greatest impact was Rutter's Requiem--Barry found me sobbing just before our dress rehearsal; my favorite aunt had just died. He asked me if I wanted to sing, and I nodded yes, I would sing it for her. He gave me a hug, and that's just what I did.

Lover of Books said...

Yes it does just float. I truly felt awesome at that moment. Not to mention my friend got married on that stage an hour or so later. It was a beautiful ceremony. It also felt cool to know that Riverdance had been on that stage as well. lol I know I'm weird. :)

Krista

Maggie Sefton said...

Sarah--I loved England. As a historical fiction author who wrote medievals and other time periods, I was in heaven.

Maggie Sefton said...

Kathy--you put it perfectly. Love is what our doggies are all about. And our kitties. I grew up with both. But my last kitty died years ago. Loving us is more than enough, and all we really need.

Maggie Sefton said...

Ah, Lindy--Music is healing on a deep, deep level. And I never toured with the Arlington Met chorus. We left the area when my husband got his PhD in Elec Eng and off we went for 15 years at Purdue Univ in West Lafayette, IN. There I joined the Bach Chorale and toured with them. 22 years ago was the move to Ft Collins CO and I joined the Larimer Chorale and toured with them. Keep singing!

Maggie Sefton said...

Krista, you're not weird. I love Riverdance. Love live theatre, love dance, love music. Whatever. :)