Meet the Essential Animals

18th April 2017

It’s not just humans who love snuggling up listening to their favourite book. According to a study by Hartpury College in the United Kingdom, our cuddly canine friends also enjoy the soothing sounds of a good audiobook.

The researchers compared different types of sound, and the effect they each had on dogs’ behaviour – playing everything from pop music to specially designed canine tunes – and guess what! It was the humble audiobook that resulted in the most peaceful and relaxed behaviour. We can’t say we’re surprised; nothing beats chilling out with a classic.

So, in honour of these remarkable results, we asked some of the Essential Audiobooks team to introduce us to their pets. We’ve got singing cats, artistic muse dogs, and even an alligator!


Feebee and Catherine O’Brien

Feebee likes to show off her vocal talents around the house

“I have my lovely studio cat called Feebee, who came with me from England. Occasionally she likes singing (we’re convinced she was an opera singer in another life!). Our house has great acoustics and we’ve got an atrium, where Feebee ‘performs’.  She meowwwws and, although it is hysterical, it can sometimes interfere with recording. I was recording something several years ago and when I listened to it back, I could make out this intermittent hummmm in the background. I couldn’t think what it was – I checked my mic, and I checked the software… Then the penny dropped – it was Feebee!   She’d fallen asleep under my chair and had been purring the entire way through! I was tempted to offer the client the option of having their recording with or without purring.”


Paddy and Winnie O’Brien

“The cats I had used to boss Paddy around, so he’s King Pin now. He’s a fantastic companion, and is, sort of, my assistant; he inspires me every single day. When he has eaten and settles down, he lies on a day bed in my studio space and watches me draw, and when I’m reading the books, I curl up on the day bed with him. He’s very much a part of my work.

Paddy’s a cross between a Labrador Retriever and a Border collie, he’s large with all sorts of different colours. He has the Labrador temperament – very laid back, and the intelligence of the collie. It’s a great mix!  I couldn’t recommend it more.”


Peggy Babcock and Liam Gerrard

Peggy Babcock

“I’ve got a dog, she’s a springer-cocker cross, Peggy Babcock. She’s very quiet and won’t make a noise unless someone’s at the front door – then she barks like a lunatic! It’s great as quite often, if I’m in my studio, I won’t hear and I’ll carry on recording, and underneath there would be the sound of the door knocking. She’s like my door bell!

“Peggy Babcock doesn’t come into the studio when I’m recording audio books. She’d fidget if I was in there doing long form narration and that would be a nightmare on the recording. But if I’m just doing quick radio ads, 20-30 second spots, or corporate reads, then she’ll be here asleep in the room. It’s just us two in the house and she’s great company.”


Billy, Fudge, and Pearl Hewitt

Pearl and Fudge the dog

“I have a cat called Billy and a dog called Fudge. They usually sit outside the booth while I’m recording. Billy sometimes tries to sneak into the booth but he’s a noisy cat – he likes to talk all the time. Sometimes if he’s trying to catch my attention he’ll get on his hind legs and rub the glass with his paws so I can hear the squeaking of his paws down the glass. Fudge sits quietly outside the booth. Working from a home studio has its benefits, but it also has its difficulties. This morning, for example, work was delayed because the dog threw up on the carpet!”


Vivienne and Shirley Curtin

“I have a little beautiful black cat, named Vivienne, or Vivi.  She’s the smartest cat we’ve ever had, maybe a little too smart for her own good! The cat we had before wanted to be held and loved continuously. Vivi’s as affectionate as she can be but doesn’t like to be picked up. It’s good when I record, as I don’t have walls around the studio, that we don’t have a cat that would come in purring or meowing for attention. Sometimes Vivi will lay on the couch watching and listening, I guess it’s comforting for her.”


Biscuit, Algernon, and Phillip Mather

“We’ve a few animals around here. Biscuit the donkey comes and stands at the window and demands carrots occasionally. He’d like to come in, but we make him stay outside. We have Algernon the alligator, he doesn’t come in either. He’s only a puppy and I go out each morn

We wonder what audiobook Algernon would choose…

ing and feed him. He likes dog biscuits, so I rattle the can and he comes right up to me to be fed.  Two alligators turned up in our pond last year – Agnes was large she had to be taken to a wildlife sanctuary. Algernon was small so they didn’t need to capture him, so he’s part of the family for the time being (although he’s getting bigger!) We do have fewer catfish than we used to in the pond, but he arrived and we like him. Whatever needs rescuing seems to end up here! We had a rooster called Chuck, because somebody chucked him over the fence for us to look after.”


Patty Gibbons and her menagerie

“We have two horses, two dogs, and one turtle. Officially we have two cats, but also one or two others who come through and visit. The horses are an off the track thoroughbred called Emma, and another thoroughbred who never made it to the track, Spirit Horse. Our dogs are a big Pyrenees-Boxer mix, called Fae (she’s a sweetheart) and our little dog, a Chihuahua-Dachshund mix called Pippin.

We had two older dogs when Pippin arrived, but they passed away and Pippin was king for a year. After that he seemed lonely, so I took him to a couple of rescue groups to find another companion. I didn’t want Pippin crushed or overwhelmed so we looked at small and medium sized dogs but we just couldn’t find one that suited Pippin. We were leaving and walking by a couple of puppies who were with another rescue group and there was this big puppy sitting there, looking so young and sweet.   Pippin ran up to her, sat down beside her, licked her nose, and then looked at her, and sure enough we ended up with Fae!

Patty and her adorable animals

Little Cat, LC, is like a shrunken down Maine Coon and then there’s Homer, our black cat, who’s 15 or so years old. We’ve had another black cat who’s recently moved in. He’s causing all kinds of mayhem, but he’s a sweetheart, I call him Mr Mew Mew, because that’s all he ever does; walks around mewing. Then there’s Sasha, a tuxedo cat. The turtle is called Tab. He started off as Tabatha, but over time it became pretty clear he was a male, so we changed his name to Tab!

I try not to let them keep me company when I’m working, although LC does love to dig around and sleep in the studio but I don’t let her in when I’m recording. Pippin and Fae do start whining outside the door, so I know when I’ve been in there too long!”


Oscar, Morpheus and Anna Parker-Naples

“I have a cat and I’m about to get a puppy, a proper Andrex puppy, a golden lab. To be honest, I don’t know how it’s going to work with my work, so I’m hoping he’s a quiet dog! It’ll encourage me to get out of the studio and go for a walk more often. He’s my pet as he’ll be with me all day, and he’ll also do the school run with me. Our cat is called Morpheus, named after the Roman god of sleep – my husband’s choice as it’s his.”


Do you have pets? Why not conduct your own experiment with one of our classic audiobooks – we think you and your animals will love it.

Written by Bryony Robertson

2 comments on “Meet the Essential Animals

    • Catherine O'Brien on

      So glad you enjoy our blog! Hope you like the latest from Katie Isbester of Claret Press on our most recent publication, the gripping political thriller, best-seller “Term Limits” written by Steve Powell and narrated by Shawn Compton.


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