I don’t speak often. I am the quiet dog, the one-who-observes, the one my human calls The Medicine Dog. I am the one who doesn’t demand attention. The one who willingly responds to my human’s requests, who keeps his eyes on the farm and the family. The one who listens more than he talks.
You probably know a dog like me: easy-going on the outside, but internalizes stress. We are often kind of Zen, can be sensitive to strong human sounds and emotions, never make trouble, rarely even get into trouble. We are the empaths of the dog world. We feel everything, we are highly intuitive, we can sense the truth or falsehoods when a human speaks. We feel the vibrations of the natural world, we hear the telepathy between horses. We hear the unspoken.
A quiet dog like myself can become overloaded by what he feels and senses. Sometimes dogs like me have to find a quiet corner or a nice bush and sleep away the anxiety. Sometimes our tummies get upset. Sometimes we can get very sick because our psyche can’t take the stress.
All canines speak with their bodies and through telepathy. The problem is that many humans don’t hear what we say, don’t recognize our body language, or the messages in our eyes. In my observation of humans, there appears to be a lack of listening to the dogs, and to each other. Humans talk a lot and then they react to the talking.
The funny thing is, humans often complain or worry about reactivity in their dogs without realizing that we are mirrors for you, just as you are mirrors for us. Constant human reactivity is difficult for many canines, particularly empathic dogs like myself. It can make us sick.
I have been working on my human to teach her how to be an observer with listening ears: how to listen without the need to bring attention to her own words; when to be quiet so as to absorb the words being spoken; to intuit what is behind those words. Sometimes she just forgets to breathe, and reacts out of habit, just like Kemosabe does when he hears a mechanical drill sound or a chain saw or firecrackers.
There is an old canine saying that has been passed down to us for generations upon generations: it is in the listening that understanding and compassion comes.