Paw Talk: KiloHURTS!

The vast and open warehouse covers a surprisingly large space for being stuck in the middle of buildings so close to one another that they could be deemed cozy; a post-punk band is set up in a small corner of the huge space and is playing its loud music – music that forces you to participate. You know what I mean – when a band is so loud that even with earplugs, you can feel your body either tense or jump at each bass drum hit. For many of you reading, this is a welcome feeling, a titillating experience. Another familiar feeling to most of you is the ringing in your ears if you’ve forgotten earplugs (or choose not to use them, because your ears are tougher than the rest of us normal humans, or so you’d have us think). That ringing that can go on for days, sometimes permanently damaging your hearing is called tinnitus. And guess what? It can happen to other non-human creatures, too. That’s right Ye Brilliant Bulbs, bringing your dogs to shows can cause them to go deaf.

When I attended a show at a pretty cool new space right off of Frenchmen, my excitement about the new space quickly turned to outrage when I saw a group of what appeared to be well-cared-for dogs, seemingly happy and playful as they ran back and forth across a gigantic spread of cement. What made me the angriest was when between bands, I tried to call out to an old boxer lying on the cement, tiredly panting after playing, and he couldn’t hear me. If the music hurts my ears, what is it doing to theirs?

According to an LSU article chronicling a series of studies done in the late 1980s, a dog’s hearing is roughly 2 to 3 times more expansive than a human’s hearing (in other words, 2 to 3 times more sensitive). But it doesn’t stop there. A cat’s hearing is even more sensitive and some other common house pets’ hearing– rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs and mice– are more delicate than a cat’s. A human hears up to about 23 kHz; a dog hears up to roughly 45 kHz and a cat hears up to 64 kHz. The smaller animals can hear closer to 100 kHz. The Department of Education’s Office of Science states, “Pain results from sounds that are much louder than our threshold of hearing. Dogs could feel pain from sounds that weren’t painfully loud to us. Very loud sounds can hurt the ears and if a sound seems too loud to you, it is probably more so to your dog.” So, when a lot of us regular punk show attendees stick earplugs in our ears because otherwise it’s too loud (something also called infrasound, referring to a frequency that is below audible for humans, but not necessarily for other animals), please remember that the cat you see hiding behind a couch at that house show or the dogs you see romping around, although seemingly happy, could be in a lot of pain or worse, are possibly already deaf.

Dominic of the local band Small Bones talks about his band’s policy that has luckily not had to be enforced yet about not playing while animals are present. Dominic says, “I like to anthropomorphize animals as much as the next person; it’s cute to pretend that they understand and enjoy all the things humans are able to. However, there has to be a rational cutoff for this kind of behavior if you’re an adult. It’s not cute or funny to subject non-human animals to loud punk music. They have a limited capacity for understanding what’s taking place in this context, and it should go without saying that their senses of hearing are much more sensitive than ours. If a bunch of idiots, myself included, want to go deaf listening to malcontents bang on instruments under a freeway, that’s fine. Dogs, or any other non-human animals, shouldn’t have to deal with it, however. They don’t have a choice.” So come on, fellow admirers of loud music, don’t bring your animals to shows– they can easily get trampled by dancing fools as well as lose their sensitive hearing. If you simply cannot part with your furry friend, make sure the animal is not inside an enclosed room full of amplified noise. It’s cruelty disguised as chillness.