Sort of related to my previous post on the communicative range of canine bodies —
I’m not denying the natural urge to anthropomorphize and to read, sometimes with great clarity, the emotional status of a dog through his head alone.
It’s just that this is where we, as humans, typically refer when trying to interpret meaning. The eyes, in particular, are where we look in the absence of speech. Great communicators will often pick up additional facial cues, because words are frequently insufficient on their own.
Perhaps we could all be more empathetic towards our own kind if we were given license to stare, because humans also express a lot with our entire bodies. The purpose of observation is not to chart a strict anatomical glossary, or learn how to read every twitch and turn “correctly.” Rather, the process itself would teach us to appreciate how meticulously we must consider our subject before we really get to know them. When you watch another long enough, even the slightest changes in posture, the slope and curve of a turned back, can tell you so much that language cannot… and that level of communication is simply amazing.
But the feelings behind these physical cues might be expressed quite differently by another creature. So you have to constantly recalibrate, figure out again just what you’re looking at or for.
Even if you can’t articulate the precise significance, it’s important to recognize when change, even a subtle shift, has happened before your eyes. Truly, no storm comes out of the blue.