Dogs are more complex than we sometimes figure. They have a whole system of communication…the only thing is, is that it’s not in words. Our dogs are constantly communicating some message. If we fail to recognize this fact, we may miss some very important information and this may lead to a misinterpretation of behavior. Sometimes what we think about our dog may not actually be the case. For example, when we think our dog is “having a good time” playing a game of chase, it may actually be uncomfortable and trying to escape the situation.
As someone who works closely with dogs, it’s my job to pick up on these messages…to recognize what my dogs are telling me via their body language. Now this got me asking myself…am I this attuned to my neighbor? Do I recognize the complexity in each person that I encounter? Or is what I think I know about someone not actually true?
Sometimes we forget that we can’t know everything about someone right off the bat. We don’t always recognize what’s unspoken…what’s being communicated without words. We sometimes fit people into a box without taking into consideration the complexity of that individual…the past hurts, the lies, the fears behind an action.
Not everything can be known by listening only with our ears. We must also listen with our hearts. In doing so, we will hear the words of the heart…and will be able to respond to what that person truly needs. We will let go of generalizations and recognize the depth of each person. We will be attuned to what’s being communicated to us beneath the surface…what we are being told beyond our assumptions.
“Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.”
 St. Benedict