Long a fan of Thisbe and the Barkettes and, at one time, a Dog in-the-running for one of the top singing spots in the group, Noreen recently sat down with The Barkettes (Estelle, Lorraine, Carmen and Mercedes), for an honest chat about life, love and the Canine music world.
E: I don’t know if we actually thought about it in that way. We knew that we were good; we knew that we could make it, as long as we were allowed to make it, that is. And my Mum, in particular, kept us going and wouldn’t let us ever be discouraged. Even when we faced blatant discrimination and anti-Caninism. There were many times we saw signs that said “No Dogs Allowed” and I, at least, would want to collapse. But Mum would never let me do it.
L: I don’t think people — Humans, that is — realize the impact such things have on Dogs. And other Animals, too. For so many centuries, we’ve been treated as chattel…as if we have no value outside the value of the Humans we live with — if we live with Humans. I think The Barkettes have done a great service, really, in showing the world — Canine, Human, Feline — what Animals can do when they set their minds to it.
It’s not just the sound of our music or our voices — although I’m sure that the quality of the sounds helped immensely. I think it’s partly that we have an honest desire to do something with our lives…
M: And our love of music, too. That can’t be discounted. Without that, we never would have been able to sustain the blows we did and the insults, too.
C: Absolutely. I think in that way, the arts, whichever of them, can help to sustain anyone who is an underDog.
We were underDogs, too, when we started. We played living rooms, parks, anywhere they would book us. And we were glad to do it. We wanted to bring our love of music to the whole world — not just the Canine world, but the whole world. I used to practice in my backyard; some of my highest notes I sent up the chimney. But when it worked, there was no feeling like it. I don’t think I could have done it in any other field.
E: Who knows what’s normal, anymore? This is what’s normal for us…or, at least, it’s what’s become normal for us. I would hate to have missed the life that we’ve had, the things we’ve done, the Animals we’ve met.
And I would like to say here that I will always be grateful to Thisbe, because this was all her idea. I could never have envisioned it.
C: That’s true and I think we all agree on that. But if you mean do I wish I’d had the opportunity to…say…have a litter…I don’t know. I guess I feel it’s something I could have done if the opportunity had arisen. But it didn’t, so I don’t regret it, really. I have 187 nieces and nephews and they all give me great joy when I see them.
M: I think we can’t regret it when we know that soon we’ll have to retire and we know how much we’ll miss performing.
L: I will really miss it. But I also am looking forward to a rest. And I’ve always wished I could have gone for training, so that’s something that I’m thinking of starting when we retire.