My first dog was a Brittany spaniel. Speckles was 3 months old when he came into my life and his tail was already docked.
As he grew older, and his hair started to lengthen and feather, several long, curly white strands of hair extended outward from the tip of his tail stub. I remember playing with the curl, wrapping it around my finger. My ex-husband used to joke about cutting the curl off, but I prevented it.
For 12 years I had a dog without a tail. My new dog, however, has a whip.
Trucker has a long body and long legs, and his tail stretches out with similar length. In fact, 16 inches, as I measured one evening with a yardstick.
This black and white whip normally carries low behind him, resting between his legs with a slight curve, like a greyhound holds its tail. When he’s happy and exploring, the tail rises tall – its white tip dancing over his back like a butterfly. I love watching it bounce, and it’s a great signal to find him when he’s hiding in tall ornamental grasses or running in prairie grasses at forest preserves.
My three cats have found this appendage fascinating. Forest likes to swat at Trucker’s tail tip when it’s motionless on a floor. When Trucker roams close to a chair or table, Forest reaches out to swat at his tail when it bounces by.
Occasionally, the cats get an unexpected swat to the face by the tail when it’s in motion.
They aren’t the only ones to suffer tail lashings. More than once I’ve had Trucker’s tail tip poke me in an eye.
My Boston fern suffered a swipe shortly after Trucker moved in. Leaves went flying across the living room, startling Trucker and making me laugh.
One evening, a note cube of paper on my phone stand shot off of the table like a hockey puck, startling Trucker again and making me laugh.
Speckles used to lie next to my desk chair when I worked at my computer. Before I rolled my desk chair backwards, I had to look for one of his floppy ears that could be stretched out on the floor mat under me.
Now, Trucker lies under my feet when I’m at the desk. With him, I have ears and a tail to maneuver around when I roll the desk chair.
I also learned quickly that at bath time I must wrap Trucker’s tail with a towel and blot it dry. Doing a traditional after-bath doggie shake, Trucker starts wiggling at the nose and rapidly moves the shivers to his tail tip. Long, coarse hairs on the tip of his tail rattle like a maraca whether it is wet or dry.
This tail is a little more to clean, a little more to brush and a little more to monitor, but it’s a lot more to love.
The funniest part of this tail is waiting for it when Trucker exits the back door. With Speckles, I could shut the door immediately after his rump passed through, preventing one of the cats from sneaking out behind him.
Now I have to wait for 16 inches of tail to exit, allowing space and time for one of the cats to slip out with him.
Because of this, I think the cats are also thankful for this new appendage.