Only One Wag

April 16, 2016

Every time we load Zuma into the back of our station wagon I freak about her long tail getting caught in the hatchback door.  I know it must drive Doug crazy seeing me pounce into “Smother Mother” mode but it makes my blood pressure take a leap envisioning her freaking out because her tail is trapped.
When we travel in the car, I tuck Z’s tail under her hind legs and quickly close the door once I see it’s all clear; she takes up a very large portion of the back of the car, even with the rear seats folded down for her and the tail often pops free and entices the back latch. I watch closely and hold my breath as I close the hatchback.
pic of Z in car coming later today

Zuma barely ever makes a sound; she barks one bark at a time about four times a year (usually for no apparent reason), but I KNOW if her tail would get caught in the door it would be a scene from “Dog Torturers” or some awful dog crime drama show not yet invented (give them time, those horrible producers of awful finger-pointing tv dramas will surely find a way to create a nightmarish show about good dog owners gone bad by accidentally slamming their dog’s tail in the back door and consequently being hauled off in handcuffs).

pic of tail

Yeh, so Zuma rarely complains verbally BUT I’ve witnessed the nail trim ‘total flip out borderline hysteria scene’ where Z got cut too close and a droplet of blood eeked out of one of her nails. You’d think someone tried to spay her standing up without anaesthesia.
Zuma has “Happy Tail Syndrome”.  This is when a dog gets so elated it wags it’s tail furiously and doesn’t care if the extra appendage thwacks into a wall, car or doorway, causing the end of the tail to bleed and leave a blood-spattered trail worthy of a Forensic Files investigation.

pic of wagging tail

Dogs with smooth, thin tails are most prone to Happy Tail Syndrome, I have learned.  Some tails have as many as
20 vertibrae and it is the end of the tail that receives the full force of wild wagging.  Whenever Emma and Zuma get together after a long absence I insist they go outside where there are no hard surfaces or I know I’ll be scrubbing blood spray off the paint and door frames for weeks.  And possibly being fingerprinted.
Twice when Zuma managed to cause her tail end to bleed after exuberantly beating her tail against the wall and furniture, we attempted bandaging it.  Nothing doing.  It took a lot of patience to gently wrap the tail end and then the bandage was slurped off within a minute.  It’s just one of things that is a time challenge, you have to wait it out and don’t have her close to a wall or solid object if she is greeting a friend.
Oftentimes when Zuma is out in public she will flag her tail furiously; it’s a sign of joy, this is a dog’s natural tool for exhibiting social cues.  If dogs are nervous or submissive the tail goes between their hind legs, if they’re alert, up goes the tail.  It’s like reading the ear movements of horses.  They will express themselves clearly.  You just have to recognize the signs.  Miss their cues, you’re on your own.
If Zuma gets overstimulated and the tail action becomes somewhat of a frenzied 1980s disco dance, I try to redirect her body, (which is especially challenging when we’re in the midst of a crowd) so nobody gets hurt or knocked over or sent into an unconscious state. So far so good.  Danes have powerful tails and, once they get on a roll, it can get a little crazy.  Speaking from experience, a good tail wag can knock four glasses and an appetizer plate off a coffee table in one swoop.  
These mandatory carpet cleaning incidences are minute inconveniences compared to the horrible trend of docking a dog’s tail for fashion or owner-convenience.  Sure, we have to watch closely when walking Zuma through a door (especially elevator and revolving doors); she is long and lean and that tail takes up a fair bit of space.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.  The tail is part of the dog.  Why remove it?  Don’t like vacuuming glass off your carpet or mopping up food and drinks the tail misplaced?  Get a hamster.  The dog’s tail is their communicator, their rudder, their natural balance tool.  Let the tails wag.

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