As we've been dealing with introducing Riley to Bagheera we have discovered there is a language barrier. Riley has never been able to grasp the fact that he can't always have his way and will utilize his hound dog problem solving powers to get it whenever he can. This isn't much of an issue because we can change what his way is and use treats to get him to stay out of the kitchen or not jump on people or to get our desired reaction. The problem is Riley can be overwhelmed by his desires at times and right now he really really really just wants to play with Bagheera and we are going to have to keep them separate longer than we thought until Riley stops obsessing.
The title of this post comes from me voicing this frustration to Riley one morning. Riley sat in bed staring off into the distance as he is known to do and occasionally losing focus and jumping off the bed to check if Bagheera was outside the door. Bagheera is a curious fellow and wants to be with us as much as possible so his curiosity is making him brave and he will sit outside our door at night. Riley will then check on him but lose interest if he doesn't hear anything after a bit and return to bed. This time when Riley returned to bed I pet his head and said to him, "I wish you understood English so I could tell you the way to earn a cat's trust is to leave them alone an allow them time to come to you." Riley answered by putting his head on my chest an looking at me with his big brown eyes. That was when I replied to him, "Love is our common language."
If you've ever known Riley or a dog like him he is half food hound and half attention hound. He is a 55 lbs lap dog that just wants to snuggle and love until it is time to eat. He is a dog that once in your home will be hopelessly devoted to you. He had separation anxiety when we first got him and took a few months of patient training to work that out of him and I understand the step by step process of his mind, but his overwhelming desire is to love and be loved. Riley is a dog that when we're sad or frustrated will come and put his head in your lap to let you know everything is ok. There was one time I was dealing with a printer issue and not taking it well and all of a sudden I had a hound dog trying to leap on top of me in a desk chair. This is really all that Riley wants. To be close to his people and to be loved by his people.
Riley is not alone in this aspect. In our line of work we have bonded with many pets and there are more than a few that just want to be near you and be accepted by you and we speak to them with love. In fact there is scientific research to back this up. The hormone oxytocin releases when we pet our pets the same as it does when we hug our kiss a loved one. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for human bonding and as it turns out the bonding between humans and their pets. This is why when I looked down into Riley's big brown eyes I felt the love and the bond between us and understood that while Riley and I can't communicate through language we can communicate on a deeper emotional level. Love and empathy can lead to understanding and those emotions are at the heart of our connection to our pets.