According to a book sent to me a friend in the ag business, the secret of love is knowing whether the person you love is a puppy, cat, goldfish or canary and whether you can speak their “dialect” of love.
Puppies feel love by spoken words of approval. Tell a puppy how wonderful he is and his whole body wags. And how do you teach a puppy most effectively? With praise. “Good boy! There’s a good doggy!” But here’s a word of caution to those who love a puppy, or a person who speaks the dialect of spoken words of approval. Nothing – and I mean nothing – is more devastating than words of disapproval spoken in an angry tone of voice. Puppies cower as if they are under attack. And so do people who express receive love in this dialect.
Cats are almost exclusively creatures of physical contact. You don’t really have to feed them. If a cat’s hungry, he’ll kill something. Cats don’t pay any attention to what you say or do. No reason to call one. He wouldn’t come if you did. Cats just want to be rubbed and scratched. That is how they feel love. And how does a cat express love? A cat will rub against you with its face or back. “Touch me,” a cat is saying. Some people are the same way. They feel love physically – a quick head rub, a head scratch, a hug or kiss, or more. Sometimes it’s the only way they feel love.
Goldfish feel loved based purely on favor and deeds. You can’t really touch them. I don’t know if they can hear you, even if you do talk to them, so they don’t want your affirmation. As far as quality time, they don’t care if you’re there or not. A goldfish just wants you to feed them, clean the bowl and straighten the castle. A person who is like a goldfish feels love by the favors and deeds you do for them.
Canaries express love in quality time. A canary never really notices who gives it food or water. It doesn’t care what you say to it and certainly doesn’t need to be touched. A canary is happiest when you sit and listen carefully to its song. And a canary that is ignored will die. Not from lack of food, but from a lack of love and attention. A person who is like a canary craves alone time with you. Love is best expressed by giving the person periods of undivided attention, listening to the details of their day, their dreams and concerns.
Read more in “The Noticer,” by Andy Andrews.