Shakespeare actor Simon Callow narrates world"s first bedtime audiobook to calm stressed dogs

Stories for spaniels, tales for terriers: Shakespeare actor Simon Callow narrates world's first bedtime audiobook for dogs, scientifically proven to calm stressed pets
Book developed to calm dogs down on Bonfire Night when pets become upset by fireworksBased upon inherently soft and calming sounds
Can be heard on YouTube

By
Martha De Lacey

PUBLISHED:

15:35 GMT, 31 October 2012

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UPDATED:

15:35 GMT, 31 October 2012

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He has trodden the stage with some of the most respected actors in the world and made Shakespeare speeches to audiences all over the world.

But now renowned British thespian Simon Callow has turned his attention to a completely different crowd – dogs.

Callow has narrated the world's first bedtime story for dogs, a free audiobook developed to specifically calm and relaxed stressed pets – just in time for that most frightening date on the canine calendar: 5 November.

Simon Callow narrating Teddy & Stanley's Tall Tale, an bedtime audiobook for dogs

Actor Simon Callow with his audiobook test subject, Pickles

Simon Callow reading the audiobook and testing it out on one of his listeners, Pickles

The free audiobook – called 'Teddy and Stanley's Tall Tale' – has been scientifically developed to calm and relax stressed out canines.

Pet behaviourist Karen Wild advised the Four Weddings and Funeral Star how to read the book to ensure it would have a 'relaxing effect'.

It is designed to be played to dogs on and before Bonfire Night to minimise the stress caused by fireworks displays.

Karen advised on the precise words, sounds, frequencies and speech patterns Callow should use.
She pinpointed the canine-friendly cadence, lengths of sounds, intensities, volumes, frequencies and pitch that will capture a dog's attention.

The bedtime story is said to draw on years of scientific research into dog behaviour, using 'proven animal psychology techniques, signals and bioacoustics'.

The book's cover

The book's cover

It tells the heartwarming story of a towering dog called Stanley and his smaller friend Teddy.

The audiobook, released by More Than Pet Insurance, can be heard on video sharing website YouTube.

It is designed to be played to dogs in the days leading up to November 5, allowing them to 'become familiar with the sounds and learn by association'.

HOW THE BOOK SOUNDS

The story starts: 'He-llo, dog! Are you ready for a sto-ry This story is all about a very, very good dog, just like you. Once-upon-a-time, there was a dog called Sssstanley. He
was a very sssspecial dog, as brave-as-a-lion, loyal and kind, with a
smooth, shiny coat and velvety ears that pricked up when they heard
their person's voice.'

It continues: 'Not only was Stanley as brave as a lion, he-was-as-big-as-a-lion-too. His size made Stanley different, and sssspecial, and his person loved him for it.'

Repeat plays will 'improve the story's effectiveness when played on Bonfire Night and help dogs drift off into a squirrel-chasing slumber', it is claimed.

Dog owners who choose to read the story to dogs themselves are advised to pretend they are 'talking to a two-year-old child, as if the child is rather shy'.

The instructions add: 'Adapt your normal style to sound ‘interested', whispery, and as if you really like them, perhaps speaking with a smile.

'The overall story could have a falling and softer cadence, deceleration and diminished emphasis on syllables as the dog becomes more relaxed towards the close of the story.

Karen said: 'Certain sounds as inherently calming for a dog.
'To ensure the story would work, it was created using scientific evidence based on research of the canine mind and their sense of hearing.

'A happy, settled dog is a joy to own and the bedtime story can help bring a peaceful Bonfire Night for the whole family.'

Simon Callow said: 'I own two dogs myself and know just how terrifying the sound of fireworks can be to animals.

'I hope that lending my voice to the bedtime story can go some way to help petrified pups relax this Bonfire Night.'

Simon Cowell in his more usual reading habitat

Simon Cowell in his more usual reading habitat

Janet Connor, from More Than, said: 'Millions of dogs across the country will find the fireworks stressful but this bedtime story can help minimise the impact.

'By playing or reading the book to dogs it will take away some of the stress, relax them and help them settle down for the evening.

'People have been able to enjoy the entertainment provided by Simon Callow for years – and now our pets finally can too.'

LISTEN TO TEDDY AND STANLEY'S TALL TALE, NARRATED BY SIMON CALLOW

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