The guide dog that hates brass solos in classical music

By James Pasley, Te Waha Nui

Yorrick the guide dog knows what he likes - and it's not brass solos.

So when his owner Clive Lansink took him to the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, he caused a bit of a ruckus.

Now, Lansink has made the tough call to ban Yorrick from orchestra concerts at the Auckland Town Hall.

"In the beginning he was quite tolerant of concerts and we thought this is fine," said Lansink, Blind Citizens New Zealand's national president.

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"But we began to notice over time instruments began to make him whine.

"We would normally be able to get him to settle down but there was a particular performance that really got him going: the Haydn Trumpet Concerto.

"We sit down near the front; we're only about four rows from the stage, and if there's a soloist, Yorrick is getting a pretty direct hit."

Now, when Lansink and his wife, Mary Schnackenberg - who is also blind - go to the philharmonia concerts, they leave Yorrick outside with the ushers.

"There's a certain group of people who just love to give him attention," he said.

"He can be a bit anxious, but hopefully he's getting used to that. He's not often separated from me.

"He's always pleased to be brought back in at the interval and at the end."

Yorrick's particular tastes in music have even travelled home, when Lansink plays music on the stereo.

"As he's got older he's become less tolerant. Trumpets, saxophones and flutes, they all get him going."

The orchestra knows Yorrick well. He's been a regular for years, spokeswoman Tiana Lyes told Te Waha Nui.

"He's been such a familiar face, always standing in the foyer. He's a wonderful patron of the arts," said Lyes.

"He's only recently become a little more curmudgeonly."

On the way to concerts, the family usually stop in at Tony's Steakhouse on Wellesley St.

Tyler Chapman, a waitress at the restaurant, said they were there, "at least once every couple of months".

And without any brass instruments, Yorrick is so docile people don't even notice him.

"He just sits under the table and you don't even know he's there," said Chapman.

Despite his anti-social behaviour at concerts, Yorrick's antics have earned him a starring role in another capacity.

He recently featured in a Heart of the City advertising campaign encouraging people to get out and hear the orchestra play.

- NZ Herald

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