Imagine walking along in nature when it becomes clear that someone is calling out names and instructions, dogs barking and splashing. You follow the sounds. There, on a bridge, is a man leaning toward the water, gesturing with hands and arms at someone or something beyond. At closer inspection, two dogs splash in the water, searching for something. They locate a stick. One picks it up in his mouth, runs up the embankment, rushes toward the man on the bridge. The other dog approaches from another direction. The game starts anew.
Pets have been long recognized as supportive, non-judgemental, loyal human companions. In this simple game of fetch, 2 dogs, ages 1 and 7 years, play a welcome game of “Fetch” in this creek (or stream) on July’s hot summer day. The refreshing water allows these faithful companions to interact with their human and each other.
Where are the listeners in these photographs?
All the animals, birds, amphibians, insects, people (and more) not captured in the lens, comprise the listening community. Even those who are told of the fetch game will also witness through the re-telling. In other words, first is the listening process for human and non-human witnesses. The story can be experienced with each re-telling through language, inflection, sounds, noises, gestures, expressions, etc.
Non-humans, unlike their counterparts, tune in to their surroundings as if their lives depend on it. Humans are selective. Granted, our hearing pales in comparison to that of canines. However, we tune others in or out when it suits us and when we need to concentrate. Quiet and calm help us connect to our environment and circumstances. We actually have listening memories much the same as memories created by our other senses.
Listeners model behavior for others to mimic whether human or non-human. It is an extremely important process to pass from generation to generation.