Koda’s neck is stretched out with his chin resting on the edge of the sofa. He is still, after an active afternoon. His eyes remain open and fixated on my every move. I lean in closer to him, face to face, nose to nose, and neither one of us looks away. Our direct exchange of unspoken communication provides something for both of us. It’s a gift from our gaze. Summer is also keen on sustaining long eye contact with me, so she is also getting that sweet something from our silent stares. The love hormone oxytocin is released in each of our bodies, increasing our bond. There are studies supporting this theory of the chemistry between living beings. Dogs stare at us the same way that a mother stares at her own pups.
Now, I do not suggest looking into the eyes of dogs that are not a part of your family. Staring directly into a dog’s eyes can be perceived as aggression. I experienced owning a dog that was not comfortable with close proximity eye contact. Our Australian Shepherd Dot was a bit of a nervous dog, and would look away when I directly stared at her. Our bond was strong, even though we did not frequently share that oxytocin release together. She showed her love and loyalty by working hard to always be at our side and give us attention. We reciprocated with lots of petting, brushing and sweet talking.
Koda and Summer are all about the long intense stares. They eagerly look straight on, both eyes locked on mine. The love hormones releasing like a floodgate of heart emojis.