Monday, November 14, 2005

Different Dogs, Different Displays of Affection

All three "kids" are terribly fond of us; they "love" us as only canines can. But each one shows his/her affection differently. Not only do they differ in style from dog to dog, but as individual dogs they display affection differently depending on the object of their affections.

Take Elsie, for example. With me, she leans on my legs, sits against me or on my lap, or curls up on my feet. She just wants to be close. Here I am (right) watching TV, with the Elsie girl snuggled close on my lap doing her classic "lean." Elsie likes to touch, wherever we are, but she rarely falls asleep with me.

With Don, however, Elsie sleeps like Rip Van Winkle. She does the all-out snooze. Sometimes she slumbers next to him (as in photo on left). Other times she sleeps on top of him (as in photo below right).

But in any case, she sleeps best against Don.

It's another people-like trait I guess: dogs expressing affection differently. And just as they express affection differently, they seem to need different kinds of affection from us.

Ridge needs kisses, pats, and the security of knowing we're nearby, but he doesn't need to touch. He's just happy to know we're there, and once he's sure of that, he can rest undisturbed anywhere in the same room.

Baxter needs play time from us. And he seems to need to tease us. He also needs a lap now and then upon which to rest that giant head of his. Sometimes he needs reassurance that we love him as much as we do the other two (he's our most jealous). But once he's gotten his touch fix (a pat on the head, a brief snooze with his head in our laps, etc.), he's glad to hang out on his own. Nearby, but not touching.

Elsie needs physical contact. She sleeps best against us. While the other two can stretch out elsewhere (even preferring to sleep undisturbed on the other side of the room), Elsie seems to require a human connection to rest well.

People are like that; we have different ways of giving affection and receiving affection: some like to be touched; some need words of assurance; some need only another's presence to know they're loved. And some just need time playing or teasing or just having fun.

The trick is knowing who needs what.

I know what my canine kids need. And I'm pretty sure I know what kind of affection each of those in my immediate family need (hubby and kidlets). But I'm not sure I've taken the time to figure that out with other loved ones.

I suppose I should. We'd all be better off for it. And I suppose we'd have fewer regrets. :o)

I guess the place to start is realizing we're different; we all need different kinds of connection. What works for one may not work for another. And that's okay (it's how we're made).

We can just keep trying until we figure it out.

Here's to discovering how to love others well according to their needs.

'Til next time,

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