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Musician brings unique volunteering approach to animal shelter

"It's up to us to speak for them."

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With her cello in hand, musician Cheryl Wallace arrives for her performance. But the venue and audience are a little different.

"I'm a musician, and I had heard that music can calm shelter dogs," Wallace said.

Over the past six months, Wallace has played her cello at five animal shelters for dogs. A few minutes into each show, once-rowdy puppies slowly start to fall asleep.

"Now, if you were playing in a concert hall and your audience went to sleep, you might be insulted," Wallace said. "But, for me, that is a high compliment."

For Wallace, it's her way of helping, and veterinarians say there are real benefits to exposing dogs to music.

"There are some studies that have shown that playing music, and specifically classical music, can actually calm down animals and lower that stress response to an environment like a shelter or a rescue," Dr. Mike Rukstalis said. "It's pretty tough for them, so anything that can help is certainly beneficial."

Wallace hopes her passion will inspire other canine-loving musicians.

"It's up to us to speak for them," she said.