Backup Plan

Book ends

Book ends

Tisen is a one-human kind of guy.  Or, at least, he has trouble showing affection for more than one person at a time.

Twiggy, on the other hand, seems to treat everyone as her new best friend.  Her dad commented that she didn’t even seem to care when they went out of town,–she didn’t miss them.  I laughed and said, “It’s not that she doesn’t miss you, it’s just that she always has a backup plan.”

As I watched Tisen stress over whether he was losing out on any portion of affection that he felt was his while Twiggy lied contentedly on the floor, I suddenly wondered if Tisen was living whole-heartedly while Twiggy lived with one foot out.

Book ends looking the other way

Book ends looking the other way

Let’s face it–Tisen is all-in.  He’s put everything he’s got into me.  I am the the center of his universe and if I’m gone, or even if I’m there but paying attention to something else, he feels anxious.  While this seems extreme and dysfunctional, at the same time, when I leave and come home again, Tisen goes nuts.  He experiences a euphoria of joy that his wagging tail cannot keep up with.  He throws his body against the couch and runs along it, thumping his tail down the length of it.  He grabs a toy and is so joyous, he cannot stand still.  Eventually, having burnt off the burst of energy that comes with me returning home, he climbs into my lap and has trouble deciding if giving me kisses or flopping over for a belly rub is his first priority.

Twiggy's demonstration of how interesting she finds me

Twiggy’s demonstration of how interesting she finds me

Twiggy, on the other hand, looks up when I come home and wags her tail a few times.  When I sit on the sofa, she stands, stretches, and then climbs next to me and demands to be petted.  She occasionally looks curiously at Tisen, as if she’s trying to make sense of his antics.  I am just a friend that passes in and out of her life periodically.  But, her reaction is not far from her reaction to her parents coming home from a trip.

This seems to be the core difference between having a backup plan vs being all-in.  If you have a back-up plan, you don’t have to worry about what happens if the current situation changes.  If you don’t, when you’re all-in, when things go your way, it’s a huge celebration.  But when things don’t, it’s conversely depressing.

I remember playing Canasta with my family once when I had an incredible hand.  I was ready to lay down my entire hand and win the game except for one card.  I just needed a good draw on my next hand to be able to go out and win.  I started sweating waiting for me next turn–if someone else went out first I was done.  I had no backup plan.

And boy, when I won, I felt like I’d just won the lottery!

Play Date

Tisen has made a friend.  Well, at least a playmate.  Let’s start at the beginning of this relationship.

Tisen and Twiggy were introduced at the park several weeks ago.  Tisen isn’t all that fond of other dogs, although he’s definitely getting more tolerant.  So, imagine my surprise when this beautiful lady of a dog starts tussling with Tisen and they end up in a playful wrestling match!  No snarling, no growling, no yelping.  It was great!

This monumental event was followed by a pleasant visit to Twiggy’s patio and, later, another visit at our place during a weekend lunch for the humans.

However, Tisen and Twiggy never re-engaged with one another other than to take each other’s toys when we were in their respective homes.  It was a little disappointing–but perhaps they needed neutral territory to wrestle.

In any case, the other day, Twiggy was invited to spend the morning with us without her parents.  It was Tisen’s first real play date.  I walked Tisen before going to get Twiggy so he could have his usual morning routine.  Then, I picked up Twiggy and took her for a spin around the park before taking her home.

When we got to our place, Twiggy ran for the toy basket and started digging around for what appealed to her.  Fortunately, Twiggy went straight for real chew things like bones.  Tisen never touches bones.  This would have worked well, except for one little complication:  Twiggy started breaking off enormous chunks of bone and swallowing them.  We were worried enough that we substituted first a softer bone, thinking she would chew it up smaller, followed by a dried hoof, but both suffered the same fate.

Robbed of attention-occupying chew toys, Twiggy returned to the basket and started pulling out squeaky toys.  This started a game that was like a combination of capture-the-flag and king-of-the-hill with a touch of tug-o-war thrown in.

Tisen started grabbing his toys two at a time and running behind the couch with them.  Twiggy, in turn, grabbed what she could and started making a pile in the middle of the living room.

I played referee when arguments started over toys mysteriously migrating from one hoard to the other.  It was possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  No sooner would Tisen run off with a toy from Twiggy’s pile then Twiggy would find another to replace it with.

I was pretty sure this was going to be an infinite game, but after turning away for a few minutes, when I turned back, they were both snoring next to their respective piles of toys.

Unfortunately, they both woke up when I got out my camera, but Twiggy posed like a pro while Tisen guarded his pile behind the couch.

I think they had fun–they certainly weren’t bored.  Tisen slept more soundly than I’ve seen him sleep in a long time after Twiggy went home.