By Anne Pinkerton

September 27, 2021


He taught the dog to howl when it was just a puppy.

I’d find the two of them sitting on the couch together, both tipping their faces skyward, eyes closed, solemn, focused. The little beast mimicked his best friend, his idol, his everything—in harmony, they pursed their lips and aroooo-ed as loud as their lungs could push their animal voices.

I'd cover my ears. “Can’t you house train him or teach him sit and stay before this?”

But now I understand how alone my husband was, and the dog was the only one keeping him true company in his pain—able to patiently sit with the misery in a way I couldn’t.

He leaned into the sound of suffering, instructing the puppy to speak the native canid language that matched the drawn-out nature of his sorrow.

Now the dog howls in the middle of the night, one voice raised against the dark, mourning his master. All I can do is sit up in bed and join in his two-note song. I tip my face skyward, close my eyes, and howl with him.


Anne Pinkerton’s writing has appeared in Modern Loss, Hippocampus Magazine, Entropy, Ars Medica, and Lunch Ticket, among others. She studied poetry at Hampshire College and received an MFA in creative nonfiction from Bay Path University.


Picture by Blue Bird courtesy of Pexels

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