Pets: Simon Callow – he talks to the animals! (Well, dogs)


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The Independent Culture

Velvet-voiced actor Simon Callow landed an unusual, if extremely seasonal, gig this week.

The Shakespearian player isn't treading the boards or appearing on the big screen, though, Instead, he has an important part to play on Bonfire night – that of the man who could keep dogs calm up and down the country. Dog-owner Callow has recorded an audiobook designed to counter the terrifying effects of a night (or series of nights) of fireworks on our four-legged friends. The story, Teddy and Stanley's Tall Tale, was the idea of More Than pet insurance, which approached dog behaviourist Karen Wild to consult on what sort of story would prove soothing to pooches. The idea is that people with dogs download the free audiobook and play it over the next few days to get their pets used to it and in a relaxed state, so that when the Roman candles and bangers come out on Monday evening, a quick session with Simon will sort them out.

Barking idea? Actually, I thought it was very relaxing. Callow was told which words to emphasise, and there are plenty of reiterations of dog-friendly words such as "GOOD dog", "SPECIAL dog", "FRIEND", "GARDEN" and "TEDDY BEAR". But then I'm prejudiced in favour of Mr C as his dulcet tones help me to relax at bedtime, as I listen most evenings to London: The Biography (by Peter Ackroyd – amazing for history geeks), which he narrates. And while I don't actually have a dog (if I did, it would be a miniature dachshund called, appropriately enough, Banger), I may just watch the Teddy and Stanley's Tall Tale YouTube video (below) a few more times. For the cute doggy audience, and Callow's canine-calming cadences.