Howling: our dogs can’t help it

July 1, 2006

howling.jpg

Photo by Roger N.Clark.

We have two dogs, Giaco and Cody, who are Italian Greyhounds. Underline: HOUNDS. I now know that if you have a dog that has any kind of “hound” or “hund” in its name, it howls. It is likely that “hound” and “howl” are related phonemically in humans trying to describe what this genetic swatch, er, breed does. They like to howl. Our dogs, after they became adult dogs, began to learn how to howl: first Cody (Giaco was absolutely baffled), and then 6 months later, Giaco got it. Cody is the alpha male, so HE has to decide that it’s time to howl. Giaco will hear something disturbing and race to Cody to alert him to his suspicions: Cody invariably trusts Giaco’s intuition and begins to bark, and then howl. Howling can be triggered by a variety of phenomena: another dog or other dogs daring to walk past Cody’s house; a suspicious sound that can include a sound that we might make unknowingly that they have never heard before; by the way — they don’t respond to our parrots constant attempt at training them; one of their many very good human friends that come to visit us (Giaco insists on hugging, Cody waits and licks face) but the best trigger for howling is the 911 fire engines that kick up all the time in our Hollywood neighborhood.

What is weird is that these dogs REALLY get into it. It is a real emotional commitment to decide to intensely howl. But what I’ve discovered is that they become “addicted” to howling. They MUST howl at least once every day. If no dog walks by, no siren sounds, no howling trigger occurs, one of the dogs will dream up some reason to being THE HOWL. Hmmm. Gives me pause reflecting on our own animal addictions or habits.
This primitive desire to let go is perhaps in all of us in a myriad of ways. The decision to let go, to howl, in what ever way it manifests itself, is very likely a good think for our health. Everyone has their own exorcism. John and Yoko promoted Janov’s primal scream therapy. That was their version of it. Yours might be singing “Hello Young Lovers” from THE MUSIC MAN or dancing to “Extraordinary Machine” by Fiona Apple, or conducting the Overture to CANDIDE…

MUSIC IS A DRUG

MUSIC IS AN ANTI-DEPRESSANT

SINGING IN THE SHOWER IS GOOD

SINGING WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING IS GOOD AS LONG AS YOU PUT DRIVING FIRST
(Note to self: PAY ATTENTION!)

I got in a car accident when I was a Junior in Highschool while I was driving, singing a song and NOT paying attention; I got in a bike accident in college singing something and NOT paying attention to what I was doing)

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