My Hound Dog Guitar Scares the Dogs

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I bought a new guitar four months ago. It’s my second resonator, with the shiny cone, the kind made famous in Paul Simon’s “Graceland.”

Mississippi Delta was shining like a National Guitar…

This one is made by Gibson and is called a Dobro Hound Dog. It is made from maple and has a sweet burl finish. The Hound Dog contains an inner pickup so it can be plugged into an amplifier. I do not play well enough yet to amplify the missed strings and mangled chords that emanate from this sweet instrument. Just ask my dogs.

OK, Sam and Rosie are not great communicators. They limit their attempts at communication to whirling around in circles at mealtime, or heading to the back door if they need to do their business. Or sitting patiently in front of my Beautiful Mystery Companion as she eats her salad, hoping she will drop a few pieces of lettuce on the floor for them. Every once in a while they bark, apparently just to prove they can.

Yes, these dogs eat lettuce. And carrots. They seem to actually like the stuff.

They clearly do not like one thing, however, and that is my guitar playing. Most nights I pick up the Hound Dog from its stand in the study. As soon as I start tuning it with an app on my iPad, Rosie hops down from the sofa and leaves the room. Sam, snoozing on the throw rug in front of the fireplace, follows right behind her. They will not return until I quit playing.

What is up with that? I feed these mutts twice a day, take Sam on a 3.5 mile walk each morning, allow them to sleep on the sofas, and am constantly stroking their avocado-brained heads (as opposed to pea-brained). Sam and Rosie have a cushy life, and this is how they repay me? By skedaddling every time I pick up the Hound Dog, which is named after a fellow canine? No more lettuce for them, if it were up to me. But it isn’t, of course.

This is my second attempt to play guitar, an instrument I played in high school — but not especially well. That did not stop me then from performing at Shakey’s Pizza a couple times, where I generally was only allowed to make pizzas and draw draughts of beer. Which reminds me of a story. The first time I had to draw a beer, I filled the mug with ice just like we did for the soft drinks. I didn’t know any better, not being a beer drinker. The customer looked at me as if I were daft, which was not far off the mark. My boss just yelled, “You don’t put ice in a beer mug, you dummy!” OK. Lesson learned.

My musical career at Shakey’s was mercifully brief, to everyone’s relief. I remember performing a shaky version of James Taylor’s “Country Road,” which still makes me wince to think about it.

My sweet BMC bought my first resonator for my birthday four years ago. It’s inexpensive and beautiful. It also tears up my fingers to play, which ultimately quenched my enthusiasm. So last summer, I decided to upgrade to the Hound Dog and try again to rise from awful to mediocre. That is probably the best I can hope for at this stage in life.

The Hound Dog is easy to play, and the calluses have returned to the tips of my left finger. A buddy who also has taken up playing in geezerdom suggested I buy an app called OnSong for $9.99. It is wonderful, allowing me to download the chords and tabs to thousands of songs. I have finally found a use for the iPad won five years ago at a press association seminar. OnSong sets the tempo and scrolls at whatever pace you wish to play the song, usually for me about 3 minutes.

I truly have no talent for playing guitar, so progress is painfully slow. But, for once, I really do not care about becoming proficient. I just enjoy banging away, singing badly and scaring the dogs. That is enough for me.

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