Jeffrey Levy, DVM, CVA, a.k.a. “Dr. Jeff,” is a New York City-based acupuncture house-call veterinarian. As a veterinarian, he recognizes the important role pets play in our lives. However, he also writes and performs what he calls “pet-centric” music for animal-related causes.
“After 9/11, people took solace with their pets. Then, COVID came along. If you have to stay home, why not stay home in the company of a loving pet? That’s the thrust of the song ‘21st Century Pet,’” Dr. Jeff shares.
“21st Century Pet” is a boppy, sing-along song with a positive message about the love we share with our pets. Dr. Jeff says he wrote and performed this song to honor our treasured relationship with our pets in artistic form.
There are two versions of the song, both with videos. Dr. Jeff says, “One’s a sing-a-long version with my wife and daughter singing and me playing guitar. Then we did an animated version where I appear as a cartoon and go on my rounds. The animated pets are based on animals we know.”
Dr. Jeff highlights the relationship between his music and medical work. “My first pet-themed song was called ‘It’s Raining Cats and Dogs.’ Then I came up with an album of songs called Just Sniffing Around. The songs are about our relationship with animals. The joy, and sometimes despair. And by going into people’s homes, I become part of the family.”
Dr. Jeff experienced the power of in-home pet care during an apprenticeship in Northern Italy where he worked with a local horse doctor. “We’d go for long rides in the country and go to estates. The exams and the work we’d do would sometimes take a whole day. It was dusk. It was natural, there was food on the hearth and a glass of wine afterward.”
When he returned to NY, he brought that appreciation of in-home pet care with him. And he says people and pets are most relaxed at home. “In the waiting room in a NY vet practice, people are double-parked, and the dogs and cats are not friends.”
As a house-call veterinarian, he gets to experience a more holistic view of the pet and family. “I don’t have a 15-minute deadline. I get to observe the environment. Where does the dog or cat lie? Is it a soft or hard surface? Does the animal sleep in shade or sun? I get to observe relationships between pets and people.”
Dr. Jeff gets called for all manner of pet behaviors and illnesses. He’s often referred by other veterinarians and is part of a care team that treats serious cases such as cancer and orthopedic cases. His primary focus is acupuncture.
“I have a patient in Chelsea,” shares Dr. Jeff. “The chief complaint was the male dog wasn’t being cuddly and was being irritable with the other dog in the house. After one acupuncture treatment, the two dogs were lying together joyfully. Acupuncture can help the dog be more sociable.”
As for music, Dr. Jeff says, “I’ve always played around with a guitar. Music is the soundtrack of our lives—or ‘hound track,’ as I call it. I worked in an animal hospital for many years, and while there, I met musicians who were pet owners.”
In 2005, Dr. Jeff decided to put together a small group of musicians for a good cause: “I assembled a group of musicians from the animal welfare community, and we played for the Central Park Conservatory to raise money for doggie water fountains. The group included dog walkers, cat rescuers, animal nurses, a sea lion trainer, and a zookeeper. Since then, I’ve played for the ASPCA, the American Cancer Society’s ‘Bark for Life,’ and many others,” he says.
Providing home veterinarian services since the ’90s, Dr. Jeff travels all over NYC providing pet care and also drawing inspiration for his music.
“Most of my composing happens via transit. Like when I’m on the A-train. It’s a long train that stretches from the north tip of Manhattan in Harlem to Greenwich Village. I hear the tickety-tack of the tracks, and the rhythms make their way into the music. I write a lot of my songs on the subway,” he shares.
Dr. Jeff grew up in Brooklyn with a small backyard. As a boy, he liked watching bugs, birds and slivers of nature. “The more creepy-crawly, the better. My dad bought me the Golden Guide to Insects. From there, I followed my natural curiosity in the world around us and was lucky enough to get into veterinary school. It’s really not a job. It’s all-consuming and a daily adventure,” Dr. Jeff expresses.
With the “21st. Century Pet” song and videos, he hopes to share positive messages about finding comfort with our pets.
“These videos could serve organizations that need to share positive messages. Schools and public service agencies could use the animated version to explain the current events to children,” Dr. Jeff concludes. +
“21st Century Pet” can be viewed on YouTube:
An animated, character-driven version, which appeals more to children: https://youtu.be/LjiSBmXAPJQ
A catchy, feel-good, sing-a-long version, with his friends and family participating in the performance: https://youtu.be/G_QjREGMn9A
And introducing a Spanish version:
Dr. Jeff can be found on social media: