Local pediatrician writes song honoring assistance dogs

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, September 6, 2022

SALISBURY — A local pediatrician who uses a hearing assistance dog took a creative approach to sharing the importance of service dogs just in time for National Service Dog Month.

Dr. Danielle Rose of Salisbury Pediatric Associates wrote the lyrics of “The Service Dog Song” after living with her third assistance dog, Delight. The song has been a side project for the last two years.

Collaborating with the band Nova Pangea, the two were able to bring her words to life through the combination of the group’s composition and Dr. Rose’s melody.

“It’s so exciting to have the experience to share,” the doctor said. “She (Delight) helps me communicate better than I could without her.”

Rose has also been crafting a middle grade book about what happens to dogs when they go to service school — with a twist. The story is told through the eyes of the animals, exploring what they would talk about with their classmates and what it means to each of them to be an assistance dog.

The story was inspired by her first service dog, Chucky, a Terrier cross breed that had a lot of behavioral work to address before receiving his certification. Her friend also had a dog of the same breed named Bogart, who would play and “cut up” with Rose’s assistant. It made her wonder what goes through the animals’ minds while in training and how do they communicate about assisting.

After Chucky, Rose met Ginger, who was a black lab like her current dog, Delight. Ginger was the service dog that was with her when she was hired at Salisbury Pediatrics and, according to the physician, the employees welcomed both Rose and Ginger with open arms. Ginger unfortunately died from cancer, prompting Rose to meet her current service dog when Delight was two years old.

While mulling over the idea for her book, Rose became curious about what acting as a service dog meant for the now seven-year-old Delight.

“The Service Dog Song” features words of comfort from an assistance animal to its owner. The lyrics read, “Calm your fears, I’ll be your ears. Dry your tears, I’ll be near and always be your ears.”

The song debuted at the Together in Harmony festival in Dallas, Texas, on July 16 where the non-profit organization Dogs for Better Lives was in attendance. The event was the first, inclusive art festival for the local deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Rose and Delight were there and provided a brief presentation and demonstration as the minds behind the song. Rose is also chair of the DBL board.

“When we were invited to collaborate with Dr. Rose to compose the music for her service dog song, we felt we could honor the legacy of our recently deceased dog, Gigi, who always enjoyed hearing us playing music,” said Uriel Vásquez and Carmina Murillo of Nova Pangea. “This opportunity came to heal that emptiness in our hearts. We finally got the perfect opportunity to work on a project that involves our two passions: music and the love for dogs. We want to thank Dr. Rose, Delight and the whole Dogs for Better Lives team for this delightful experience.”

Rose has always had a love for music in addition to her passion for her medical practice with children. Growing up, she learned to play the piano and cello despite her progressive hearing loss, which was discovered when she was five during a hearing screen for kindergarten. Her mother was told during this time that the severity was mild but would progress as she got older. Rose was told thereafter to focus on strengthening her lip reading ability.

However, as she went on to attend middle and high school, she began to lose more hearing in both her ears which lead her to have moderately severe hearing loss by graduation. She wanted to play in her school’s band, but with her condition, she was told the brass instruments could potentially make her hearing loss worse.

“I liked the regular pop music of time, which was quite a bit ago in the ’70s,” she said. “But I learned classical on the cello while I was in school because it was gentler on my ears.”

By the time she graduated high school, she had acquired her first set of hearing aids that helped boost her listening skills of music. As she went on to college, her sense of hearing continued to decrease until, during her second year of medical residency in 1992, she had lost all hearing in one ear.

She began to learn sign language to help communicate, but also said she was not able to appreciate music like she had before, struggling to understand lyrics, and because her busy schedule in medical school left her far less time for concentration on the music.

For eight years of medical school and residency, Rose struggled to hold on to her love of music, having now lost all hearing in both ears. During her last year, she received her first set of cochlear implants, opening her world to a re-appreciation of music she had so missed. It was also the help she needed to pass her listening skills test in 1994 before becoming a practicing doctor.

In 2010, she received her second set of cochlear implants. It was at this point she could begin listening to more complex songs featuring a variety of instruments in different genres, from jazz to the ’70s pop hits she enjoyed in high school. Rose also shared that Spotify has been a great resource for her within the last three years because she can follow along with lyrics provided on the application, and because of the vast number of songs in its library.

“The Service Dog Song” can be found on YouTube and Facebook on Nova Pangea’s official pages.