Ukuleles are commonly associated with music from Hawaii where the name roughly translates as “jumping flea,”perhaps because of the movement of the player’s fingers. Legend attributes it to the nickname of the Englishman Edward William Purvis, one of King Kalākaua’s officers, because of his small size, fidgety manner, and playing expertise. According to Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, the name means “the gift that came here,” from the Hawaiian words uku (gift or reward) and lele (to come).

The story I heard while living there goes back to when the Portuguese came to Hawaii. While the ukulele is a uniquely Hawaiian instrument, its roots are in the Portuguese braguinha or machete de braga. Many waves of immigrants came to the islands, including a large number of Portuguese who brought their branguinhas with them. When the Hawaiians saw the fingers flying so fast over the strings they said they looked like fleas “uku” that were jumping “lele.”

No matter how it got its name, many people regularly tune their ukes using the mini-ditty “My dog has fleas”. Each word corresponds to a different note, G-C-E-A. Those of us who are really old can remember when Arthur Godfrey use to tune his ukulele using that song.

So what does this all have to do with dogs? Nothing except dogs can have fleas which is something no one wants to happen.

When you adopt a dog from us that dog could have been a stray for quite some time which means he or she likely has a flea problem. Some dogs have a severe infestation and they have lost hair in the process. When that happens we treat the dog and they are not available for adoption right away.

When dogs are in the high kill shelter fleas jump from dog to dog to dog. Because of that, rescue dogs are treated for fleas before they ever meet you. They can not be bathed as soon as they go home and so while some might appear dirty it’s imperative you let the medication do the work before learning if your dog likes baths or not.

Your adoption counselor will go over this during the adoption process but even though you have a packet and they do talk about it we still have people calling to complain that their dog has fleas. The first question the staff asks is if they bathed the dog. Of course! He was dirty is the answer and of course we explain that they have just washed off the flea treatment.

It’s not the end of the world and people have come back to have us do it again, but if you live far away that can be a hassle.

Your counselor will tell you when it’s good to bathe the dog and also you’ll want either a monthly topical flea, tick, and heart worm medication or a collar. There are many choices. We can make suggestions as can your vet which is usually the way to go.

And just because I like information here’s some for you. If you didn’t your pandemic time our to learn to play the ukulele or guitar it’s never too late.

According to this article on animals and music dogs seem to be receptive to string music. Don’t worry, my dog loves my singing, too.

“Kenneled dogs appeared to have reduced stress when they were made to hear classical music and also music that originated in strings or acoustic like guitars and ukuleles. Music pieces with rhythmic strumming seemed to have a calming effect on dogs even within domestic households.

Dogs appeared to respond emotionally to human music. Although this doesn’t mean that animals or in this case specifically dogs, can understand the relationship between key and pitch well. They can recognize a set or sequence of notes but the moment the key is changed, they are unable to recognize it.”

So get a ukulele and tune it to my dog has fleas. But make sure your dogs have their flea and tick treatment and when you adopt your dog please don’t wash them until the date given to you by your adoption counselor.