That tail makes me smile

This morning as the dogs and I shared our morning snack, I watched Luke eat while Elsa's tail lay across his face and feet.  He didn't even acknowledge it; he continued to eat like it wasn't there.  He has  adjusted to her tail and it is now a part of his daily life.  It makes me smile seeing Elsa wrap her glorious tail around Luke while they play.  She most definitely uses it as an extra appendage; which of course it is.

This whole tail thing is new to us; Elsa's is the first undocked tail that we have had in the family.  Our poodles that have come and gone all had a part of their tail but they were docked so they were just a remnant of what should have been.  Seeing how she uses it has really opened my eyes.  I have worked with many, many dogs with tails and it was just how it was.  I never thought much of it until Elsa came into my life.  She uses her tail more than most dogs; she is a very touchy, feely girl.  Maybe all dogs use it as much but now I am much more aware of it.  I tend to watch tails more now maybe?

A tail is a message delivery system.  But more than that it is something that a dog also uses consciously.  As you all know Elsa is a big flirt; she is the full on lower your head and bat your eyelashes type of flirt.  But it is her whole package that is used in her play technique.  Her tail is very much a part of it and if Luke is within reach it is touching him.  Watching her interact with Luke is extremely interesting.  Her whole body including her tail takes on her mood and delivers her communication to perfection.

Luke has learned to duck out of the way of her flying tail.  Elsa is a very happy girl meaning her tail is often up and waving around.  Luke use to hit Tilley in the face with his tail as well but it was in a much closer proximity.  Greetings are one of the times when the dogs learn to duck out of the way.   There is no tail control when you come home to happy dogs.  Those tails are flying and they learn to stay out of the way of them.  Luke is learning how to get around Elsa's, which is much more active.

Like many other things in life, it is the little things.  Those times when I look into my rear view mirror and see Elsa's tail wrapped around Luke's face.  Or when she is tempting Luke to play with a lingering tail around his neck trying to lure him in.  When Luke enters a room that Elsa is sleeping in and just the very tip of her tail starts to wag, just enough to show her joy.  Even her naughty times when she is seemingly laying quiet; her tails gives away that she has no good on her mind.  It whips madly as she waits for someone to get close enough to pounce on.   It is fabulous.

Luke is a real tail wagger, always has been.  I love it but now realize that we are missing much of the would be wagging due to the tail missing.  The whole tail is not always in the loop; sometimes just the very tip delivers the message, the fine tuned details of a communication.  But is the moments like the one I am seeing right now.  Elsa and Luke are asleep on my bed beside me; her tail is laying over his shoulders.  She must always be touching and even if it is just the tip of her tail; she's happy to have that connection.  It makes me smile.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post Sherri! As a fellow behaviorist, this is one of my favorite subjects. Costello has a docked tail, longer than most, but still docked. There is a certain silencing to any dog with a docked tail. It makes me sad - sadder as the years have passed as I see more and more joy expressed by full tails, and the inevitable squelching of those who can't *fully* express themselves. It is what it is. My late love, Charley, a Rhodesian Ridgeback with a fully functional, fully deployed and enjoyed tail, used her CTC device (coffee table clearing) with such joy, and occasionally hurt it as a result. We have a giant brick stack fireplace separating our entry way from the rest of the house, so when anyone came to visit, Charley's joy was extremely evident, but alas, she would whack her tail so hard on the brick that she would literally cut it open on the brick! This happened three times before we could stop it from happening. As her tail was bandaged, and she couldn't use it properly, the sadness was so evident. It wasn't the pain - she never seemed to show much pain, having injured herself several times/ways, she just shrugged it off, and joyfully went about healing. But not when it was her tail. She seems so sad for not being able to properly express herself. It was watching her through these times that solidified my theory about tails. They are communication devices. Not at all unlike our ability to speak or write. There is not only an unbridled joy, but there is a SATISFACTION they display, that I've seen missing from those who don't have that ability to communicate. Who knew a tail would be so important. Just don't keep anything you don't want broken on the coffee table:)


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