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One of Winnie’s great asset is listening. If there is one thing I need to follow her lead on, it’s this: Listen more. Bark less.

October 24, 2017 9:52 pm

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Chapter 15: The Art of Communication

 

 

Communication between man and dog comes in many forms. Doing nothing, together, often becomes a prelude to conversation.

 

Joan Rivers asked, Can we talk? And I know she did talk to Sparky, her Lhasa Apso, and Tiger, her German Shepherd. But can we talk? also contains a bigger question: Will you listen?

One of Winnie’s great asset is listening. If there is one thing I need to follow her lead on, it’s this: Listen more. Bark less.

If not impossible to achieve in younger life, I’ve been surprised to find that the older I get, the less I feel compelled to spout off and yap about every little thing. (I know, this has yet to percolate into my writing.)

The fact remains that Winifred is a great listener. Doesn’t necessarily understand my words, but that’s okay.  Thoreau said, “The language of friendship is not words but meanings. It is an intelligence above language.”

And her intelligence understands my body language and emotional tone. If she senses too much negativity or anger (though not directed at her) in my voice, she’d rather not hear about it and leaves the room. If my energy is positive, full of good cheer, she climbs up my legs, hind paws on my shoe tops, tail doing a seductive samba, ears perked and begging for a happy scratch and rubdown.  To which I gladly accommodate.

Which is not to say she’s shy about talking back when I’ve crossed the line. And when she does talk, I listen. (After 45 years of marriage, I have learned the value of listening – in other words, when to shut up, keep it to myself and get over it!)

But the most powerful communication between Winifred and me transcends talking or listening. We both share an emotional heart to heart connection.  She knows when I’m off my feed and sick, or just depressed; happy to be with me. A quiet presence – leading us full circle back to the previous chapter. Just being there can be a powerful force for healing.

Someone very wise once said, “One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why.”

Perhaps not such a bad idea for humans.

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