I had a request the other day for the novelty song “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window,” written by Bob Merrill and introduced in 1952 on a Patti Page children’s album. Disc jockeys saw the song’s pop potential and gave it air time, resulting in its release as a single and subsequent climb to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. On my sheet music, several measures contain pairs of dissonant, staccato intervals marked “Bark! Bark!” to be played high on the keyboard, punctuating the melody. It’s the type of song I would play only if asked.
The request for “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window” came from Donna, the receptionist at a large and elegant independent home for seniors. She told me that the song would serve as a kind of inside joke between her and Wesley, a 98-year-old resident. It turns out that the previous day, Wesley saw Donna handing out biscuits to a visiting dog, so he approached her desk and said, “I’d sure like a treat.” She told me that she fetched two pizza-flavored dog biscuits from her drawer and, playing along, handed them to him. He seemed tickled. Then he ate them.
I wasn’t all that surprised to hear about Wesley’s unconventional snack. He is one of those guys who enjoys razzing people. It’s his way of conversing. He prefers to keep things light, kid around, have some fun. And getting a good-natured ribbing in return suits Wesley just fine, so he loved my musical reminder of the incident with the dog biscuit.
When I finished playing “That Doggie in the Window,” he raised his arms in delight and shouted, “More, More!”
Copyright © 2013 by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
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