A howl is definitely more than we “clever” humans think

On my Facebook page earlier this winter, I shared two video clips that were remarkable to me and remarkably similar. One showed a malamute howling lovingly next to a crying infant, and it stopped both its fussing and crying. Another showed a Siberian husky doing the same thing to a crying baby. I just saw a “Discovery News” YouTube piece attempting to explain away the significance of the inter-species activity and give less value to the meaning of the howl.

I have experienced howling up close in Alaska, by both sled dog mutts in the hundreds and wolves that I came feet from touching. I know the howl very well. There is an intensity to the howl that I cannot fully explain. It’s a very soul-satisfying sound that speaks to something primal inside of me at least. Even though I was close to the wolf, I never felt threatened. The wolf was speaking to its pack (the wolf was actually trying to kill the two dogs I was with, not to harm me and my three running friends). Anyway, I think that dogs and humans have spent thousands of years together now, particularly in a very co-dependent evolutionary way in the Arctic, from Greenland to North America to Siberia to the Lapland/Sweden/Norway. There is a reason why the two species collaborated to survive this brutal climate together. It was mutually advantageous. One could not survive well without the other. That is very clear.

I believe there is something very deep taking place when these dogs howl in these two videos. It’s the howl of a dog taking care of the pack, and the most vulnerable member of the pack. I would also like to see evidence offering something that meaningfully rebuts that theory. And here’s one of my photos from Greenland of a sledge dog (what they call dogs there). I took it in 1998. I love Greenlandic dogs. Very wolflike critters, indeed.

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