Dog Abby, advice from a Golden

Marco’s not got talent – Dog Abby

Dog Abby,

My son Marco is aspiring to be a singer, and several months ago he asked me for singing lessons for his birthday. I was thrilled that he wanted to pursue his passion and found one of the best teachers in town. Marco didn’t do the usual teenage “thing” of losing interest after a while. He has been practicing daily and applying himself with gusto. There’s only one problem, Abby: despite his strong desire and hard work, he still can barely carry a tune. His teacher confided in me that Marco has gone as far as he can, and to continue the lessons would essentially be a waste of time and money.

Marco doesn’t realize he is tone-deaf. He thinks he is a better singer than he truly is. I have never had the heart to tell him that I think he should pursue some other interest instead, but I also don’t want him to embarrass himself by auditioning for a band or a singing group. He would be devastated at the rejection. How do I approach this?

Cautious in Carson

Dog Abby paw print


Dear Cautious:

Voices are powerful. I pride myself on sounding bigger and scarier than I really am when there is an intruder (like the UPS guy, though once we met, we became best friends). Other dogs I know don’t sound as scary as I do, but they look scarier, which is just as effective. Let’s face it, Goldens aren’t designed to look scary. The Chihuahua across the street is meaner than me or my kitties, but no one is afraid of him because he does not look OR sound like he could do any damage. Still, he barks at anything that moves with every ounce of energy he has. We all have strengths, and those strengths are different. It is a good thing that we are not all the same.

As a Golden Retriever, I am really, really good at fetching things. I fetch the paper, my toys, any ball that is thrown, and sometimes even my cat. But, I am not known as a Golden Catcher for a very good reason. As much as I want to gracefully catch things in mid-air, like a Frisbee-dog, I instead tend to have things bounce off my head and roll away before I can grab it. Mom and dad are very honest when they laugh at my inability to catch things. I agree, it is kind of funny. We still try it because it is fun — and once in awhile I do actually catch something — but mom would never enter me into a Frisbee-dog competition.

Moms should always be honest with their pups. If Marco is truly tone-deaf, then he cannot hear it himself, and he needs to be told. That means someone has to tell him. Mom says that it is really hard to discourage someone you love, and that Marco may fight with you about it because you are not a singer yourself. So, a good way to begin is to invite the vocal instructor over to be honest with him. That way Marco is getting professional advice from someone he trusts, rather than an opinion from someone he loves — and he won’t be hurt or interpret the news as his mom just not liking his voice.

You could then talk to Marco about the talents you know he has and encourage him to pursue one or more of those instead. That does not mean he should give up singing altogether, he can still play with it like I do with catching my treats after walkies, he just should not be entered into any singing-kid competitions.

All the Best,


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