Special Gifts

Background and funding information on the Dog Pearls is at

Taya & Sallie

Special Gifts on YouTube

Sallie and Taya are friends who have each played the violin for years. Sallie (Debra’s niece) was invited to play in a variety show that raised money for Little Pearls in February of 2001, soon after Little Pearls was founded. She selected a beautiful piece of music by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason called The Lovers’ Waltz and invited Taya to join her. At a rehearsal one day at Taya’s house, Taya’s dog Chloe started to howl her heart out every time the girls played the Waltz. Chloe’s voice was so passionately soulful that Debra knew another Little Pearl was born.

Chloe, waiting to singLinda and Debra, ignoring the usual advice to avoid children and dogs in film shoots, took the girls and Chloe (who all agreed to create a Pearl) to a sound studio. Despite skittishness in a foreign environment, Chloe howled as if on cue the instant the music began (later receiving the nickname of “One Take Chloe”). On the filming day, settled on a chair in another unfamiliar place, Chloe rose to the occasion many more times with her world class heartfelt voice.

As a footnote, Sallie’s dog Skunky heard the soundtrack of the Pearl one day as it was played at her house. Despite not being a native howler, Skunky threw his head back and another fan of The Lovers’ Waltz was born.

Update April 2010: We featured Special Gifts in our e-newsletter and tracked down our stars to see how they are. Both Sallie and Taya are making their way in the world of music, now as young adults.

Sallie Sallie has an exciting band in Portland, Oregon: Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside

Taya is a violin performance major at UNC-Greensboro and performs frequently, including for benefit concerts.

Taya Chloe is a much older dog now, but doing fine and still beautiful. We hope she’s still singing!

Keep sharing your special gifts, Taya, Sallie AND Chloe!


30 second Pearl – 2001

Featuring Sallie Ford, Taya Ricker and Chloe, a former shelter dog

Conceived by Debra Roberts

Camera: Rick Aguar

Studio: Carl Gibbs – A Viewpoint Productions

Voiceover: Lynn Rosser

Sound Studio: Chris Rosser – Hollow Reed Arts

Editing: Shane Peters – A New Light Video with Linda McLean

Music: The Lovers’ Waltz
by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason
Courtesy of Swinging Door Music
Also visit Ashokan.org
for Ashokan Fiddle and Dance Camps and
The Lovers’ Waltz CD