Sometimes we hear only what we want to hear, what we expect, or what we disagree with, what we're afraid others might be saying, what they say that could offend us, what threatens and confuses and hurts.
We hear what we're listening for.
Sometimes we miss the kindness, the complements, the conciliatory comments, the words meant to explain, the suffering others struggle to express, the gestures born of compassion and love and fear.
There can be pain and charm and lies, truth, despair, anger, resentment, and tenderness.
What we hear may not be what others said, or meant, or felt. What we hear may be something only our own minds can perceive or understand. Sometimes what we hear has little to do with the person talking.
Sometimes we're too loud inside our own heads.
Sometimes we don't hear.
Sometimes we don't listen.
Sometimes people think we aren't hearing when we really catch every shred of meaning—the words spoken and those only imagined.
And though I love Gary Larson's Far Side, and I find these particular comics funny, he clearly hasn't spent enough time around dogs and cats. They get it all and only pretend. Sometimes they don't care... but often they do when we need them most. [But go buy Larson's books! You'll laugh for hours.]