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Hooked on Singing
Katatcha Diaz

       

       Today is the annual dog-singing contest held at the Santa Fe Plaza.  Taking the stage are 20 crooning canines who audition their talents for the big time – to bring a little opera and classical music into the classroom and to nursing homes in northern New Mexico.

       The international judges are from the opera and classical music world.  The crooning canines auditioning show off an amazing and impressive array of talent and style -- barks, snarls, high wistful warbles, growls, and long mournful howls.

       Competition is fierce!  The five finalists are announced and take to the stage to perform once again before the judge’s.

       Diva, a 4-year-old Yorkshire terrier, makes her dramatic grand entrance with a flower in her teeth.  When she hears the gentle clicking of her owner’s castanets, the opera-singing canine drops the red rose and launches into high-pitched stirring “Habanera” from Bizet’s Carmen.  The audience is wildly appreciative of her passionate performance and claps enthusiastically.

       “She only sings to Bizet,” says her owner Sofia.  “So she has taken quite well to Carmen.  I’ve tried playing Puccini’s La Bohème for her, but Diva is rather picky and won’t sing to it.”

       Keebu, a 10-year-old German shorthair mix, howls with precision and bravado to the light of the moon in Debussy’s Claire de lune.

       When Jackie O, a 2-year-old Bichon, takes the stage she launches into a high-pitched rendition of Bellini’s Norma.

       The 3-year-old pit bull named Zelig shows teeth and growls enthusiastically to Wagner’s Die Walküre.

       “Much to my surprise,” says owner Hans, “Zelig loves to sing along in German with me.“

       Next up is another opera-singing dog Penny Lane, a 7-year-old Chihuahua, who delivers a stirring and passionate rendition of  “Un bel di vedremo” from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

       On a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon in Santa Fe, the audience bursts into cheers and applause as singing dogs take to the stage with their owners.  When the winner is announced, no fur flies in the land of enchantment!

       “Diva is a little Maria Callas,” says her proud owner Sofia, laughing.  “She loves drama and is hooked on singing arias!”

Katacha Díaz lives and writes in a quaint little historic town at the mouth of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. She earned her BA and MPA from University of Washington. She was a research associate at the University of California, Davis. Among the children’s books she has authored is Badger at Sandy Ridge Road for the Smithsonian Institution’s Backyard series. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The MacGuffin, New Mexico Review, The Galway Review, Skipping Stones, Route 7 Review, Coastlines, Gravel, Twisted Vine, and Foliate Oak, among others.