There is something so magical about the sound of dogs howling in unison. I don’t know the exact reason for why a howl begins or the exact purpose of a howl but I do know it must have a hand somewhere in bonding dogs. Whatever the reason, the power of it is undeniable.
Usually it begins with sounds of a scuffle. One dog having overstepped their boundaries or another simply having a bad day. The fight breaks out and the thought goes through my mind every time whether to rush to the enclosure where the scuffle broke out and try to intervene. Somehow like magic however the sounds of thrashing and growling slowly turn into a howl. Not from either of the fight participants, but from a nearby dog. The sound of one howl turns into three, then seven, then eleven until within just a few seconds every dog (including those who were previously fighting) stops what they are doing to join in.
It reminds me of 101 Dalmatians where the dogs are sending messages across the town because it begins in our shelter and all the dogs join in for the song, it then starts to spread across the shelter like a gentle wind eventually infecting the neighboring street dogs to join in as well. Where the howl began turns silent as peace settles back into each dog and the echo of howls continues on away from the origin until finally silence descends all around. The after howl silence is so serene.
Fights I’ve witnessed in person are often broken up by us throwing water on the animals just to get them snapped out of what they were doing for a split second. It only works for that split second however and you have to get in between them before they jump right back into their fight. They hold grudges for a while even when separated. Though my instinct always works toward reaching for the nearest water bowl, I often wonder if instead I should simply start howling myself to see if it catches on to break up the fight peacefully. Fights never restart after a good howl.
The community dog howl is a sound I’ve come to absolutely adore. I must admit I’ve joined in myself on full moon nights just for the heck of it, probably freaking out passersby, but I’m not much of one to care what others think of me anyway:) I will admit it is annoying when they break out in song at 3am, first thing in the morning, just before bed when you are trying your hardest to sleep, or any other random time when you are simply praying for silence, yet it’s still one of my favorite sounds. Or maybe it’s just the peaceful silence that comes after the howl…