You have probably heard it. If you haven't, open your doors at 8pm. If you didn't know better, you might think that all of your neighbors had turned feral at this time.
The howling lasts only a few minutes, but while it lasts, it can be glorious. The initial reason for the human howling was to honor those working on the front lines of the corona virus. It is often time for a shift change, and it is a way to let these know how much those of us who aren't out there appreciate them.
It began with cheers and music, and then morphed into howls. It shouldn't be that much of a surprise. Howling is primal. When wolves howl, they are signaling to other pack members. When our dogs howl, they are communicating their fears or pain. And lately for humans, this has been a time filled with both fear and pain.
Never mind that often when we howl, we may have to interrupt a Zoom call or we may go outside, drink in hand. It's a tension reliever, and it's a way to bond with our neighbors. Dr. Scott Cypers, Director of Stress and Anxiety Programs at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus said in a Time Magazine article that "This is a way for people to take back some of the control that the pandemic forced social isolation has forced everyone to give up. Just being able to scream and shout and let out pent up grief and loss is important."
Of course, you run the risk of freaking out your dog. My dogs look at me like I'm a crazy person as I go outside, wave to my neighbors, and let out a plaintive howl. But then I head back indoors after a few minutes, and we resume our Olympic-level couch surfing. And we all feel better.