Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. By combining her passion for music with her love of dogs, she co-created Through a Dog’s Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to relieve anxiety issues in dogs. Lisa is the pianist on the Through a Dog’s Ear music series.
As a lifetime dog-lover, Lisa has served as a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind and is actively involved in agility and musical canine freestyle. A co-founder of BioAcoustic Research & Development, Lisa held a principal role in the groundbreaking music and canine research conducted with 150 dogs in 2004-06. She is a pet blogger for Care2.com, an online community of over 16 million members making a difference in animal welfare and the lives of pets, and her blogs have been seen on the front page of Digg. She also is an expert guest blogger on Positively.com and DogStarDaily. Expanding on her desire to improve the lives of dogs and their people, she recently took on a position of local director for Camp Unleashed in California.
As a concert pianist, Lisa has won first prizes in prestigious national piano competitions and has performed in China, Poland, Spain, France, Italy and throughout the U.S. She shares her home and her heart with Sanchez and Gina, both career change Labradors from Guide Dogs for the Blind.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Any activity in which I am truly 100% in the present moment, enjoying life. Whether I’m dancing in a Zumba class, playing the piano, hiking with my dogs, in agility practice or a class, or attending a fabulous symphony concert, if I’m present, it is perfect happiness. That’s one of the things I continually learn from my dogs, as they are masters at living in the present moment.
If you could come back as a dog or a cat, which one would it be & why? I’d have to say a dog that lives with people who use positive reinforcement training skills and are also sensitive to their sound environment. No matter what animal is in our care in our home, we are asking them to adjust to our human world. Since they don’t speak our verbal language, it’s our responsibility to learn theirs. And, I’ve always felt sorry for their limitation on being able to choose what sounds and music they live with. Bringing music into our environment that our dogs enjoy and also calm their nervous systems is another way of providing for their well-being.
What is your pets most treasured possession? Gina loves anything she can retrieve - ball, Nylabone frisbee, sticks, etc. It’s all good. If it’s a toy that she can retrieve, bring back for tug, and it simultaneously squeaks, it’s nirvana for her. Kong makes an AirDog squeaker disc that does all three, and it’s probably her current favorite. Sanchez’s favorite is anything that has food in it.
Your proudest achievement so far? My ability to transform my career as a concert pianist. Combining my passion for music with my love of dogs has allowed me to create music that is helping calm the nervous systems of dogs worldwide. Receiving an email or a Facebook comment from a stranger whose dog’s life has been greatly impacted by Through a Dog’s Ear is a very satisfying experience for me. We donate our music to shelters, and I recently spoke with a kennel manager who told me a story that really brought tears to my eyes. He personally raised money to put in a sound system at the shelter so that they could play Through a Dog’s Ear. Adoption rates increased 30% because of the music and a very stressed out dog who had been at the shelter a year calmed so much to the music that he finally got adopted. Sending a CD to his new home was more gratifying than I could put into words.
Who are your heroes in real life? I really have so many. The one thing they all have in common is that they all live their passion, often while taking great risks, and their mission always involves improving the lives of others, whether that be two or four-legged. My dear friend Tama Kieves comes to mind. She is the author of This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love. And she is a genius at inspiring others to live their passion, while having a blast doing it.