Tail Talk – Pt. 1

Hey, It’s Jet Here.

We K-9s do not always use our voices to communicate, we use body language too.  Case in point – our tails.  My sister, Koko, was a wagging professional.  She wagged at the door before Mom even entered the house (show off!), she wagged at Dr. Shaffer’s office (show off again), she probably wagged in her sleep she was so doggone happy.

I have several tail positions.

  • There’s the perfect curlicue.  I use this when I want to show Patches (prior post) what a catch I am.  The ‘cue tail also works when I’m alert to new noises, an approaching something or other or want to show how big and tall I can be.

  • There’s the sideways question mark.  The art of crooking my tail just so to create the “curious and comfortable-in-my-paws” position which took lots of practice I tell ya.
  • There’s the stretch and ‘cue.  My tail straightens out as I listen or see something that catches my attention.  Next, after determining the safety level, I ‘cue it up to let the world know that… Hey, It’s Jet Here.  Example:  This morning, I discovered that the human time change thing (see prior post) may not bode poorly after all.  You see, with the extra light, I can identify more squirrels on the telephone wires.  They know about my chasing prowess, they’ve heard the rumors, they know they can’t (Uh, excuse me Jet, I’d tone down the bravado, since, those squirrels outfox you time after time…no offense)  Mom, that’s because you do not let me run free to bark and jump on the trees making them shiver in fear all the way down to their little teeny claws.  Ok, Jet, if you say so…
  • There’s the cozy tuck.  You know the head dog in the sky designed us K-9s well when we use this one.  My tail wraps around my behind parts and tucks under my back paws perfectly to create a cozy position to rest and sleep.
  • There’s the downtrodden.  Before I met Mom, I employed this position often.  My tail slumped down between my back legs and hung there, sad and scared.  I would tell mom to delete this one except you should know about it in case you ever see one of my brethren in this state.  Please help them if you do, ok?
  • Finally, there’s the well known wag.  Several factors affect this position; speed, direction and feelings.  You can rev up or slow down the wag depending on what you want to convey.  I vary the direction of wagging by going side to side or in a circle.  When you walk, trot, or run the coordinating wag takes on different cadences as well.  My excited wag when Mom asks, “Jet, do you want to go out?” starts at the tip, and then quickly envelops my whole tail until I’m wagging like a madman.

Jet, I know you will conclude part 1 in a moment, if I may, I would like to comment on your wag.  After you lived with us for about six months, it dawned on me that you did not wag your tail much.  I realized you had suffered so greatly before, you may have forgotten how.  I never took/take your wag for granted.  You now wag like your sister used to, which lets me know you trust us and can freely and joyfully enjoy your days.  Your wagging makes my lips turn up at the edges – that means we’re both happy.  Wow Mom, I didn’t know all that, thanks for sharing.

Ahem…Pay attention to our tails, humans; you will learn a lot!