What’s up with dog’s tails, anyway? I don’t think most humans give dog tails much thought. I had Pembroke Welsh Corgis for about 20 years, and since ours didn’t have tails, I never really paid a lot of attention to tails on other dogs unless they were slapping my legs and leaving bruises!
Having tailless dogs has some advantages! They don’t sweep items off a coffee table, they don’t get caught in a door by accident, there’s nothing to step on…need I go on? For twenty years, I absolutely loved watching my Corgis wag their entire bums when they were excited. Those tailless little bunny butts are absolutely endearing…especially in motion!
Well, when it was 2007 and we were considering what sort of dog we wanted, believe it or not, we did discuss tails! We knew we couldn’t have a Corgi because of the steep stairs in our home, and so we were considering other medium sized herding dogs that had legs and could accommodate the stairs. We knew that any other herding dog was likely going to have a tail, so we would have an adjustment to make.
Rugby’s tail is the best of all worlds! His tail curls up gently over his back for the most part, so there’s nothing to slap against my leg and leave a bruise, nothing to clear a coffee table, nothing to shut in a door….but, there is something to accidentally step on, and boy do I accidentally step on Rugby’s tail! When he lays down and relaxes, his tail rolls out behind him, and he has very long fringe plume that blends in with floor all too well. As a result, he often snugs it right next to his hips, so that it hugs his body.
Rugby has medium length fur over most of his body….a little longer fringe on the backs of his
legs and bum, and of course pretty fringe around his ears as well. However, the fur fringe on his tail is ridiculously incredible! It’s an enormous plume of fur that’s like a waterfall over his hips, and that tail has a mind of its own….sort of like my hair in our East Tennessee humidity! The length of the plume fur is ridiculous! At its longest, it’s a good 8″ from the bone, and it flips and flops with Rugby’s moods and activity.
Part of what makes it problematic is that Rugby wants to be underfoot constantly. As such, he often presents many accidental situations with that tail of his! Of course it gets stepped on from time to time, but what can also happen is that I roll my office chair over the fluffy fur as well. When that happens, Rugby jumps up like I’ve stepped on him, and you know what comes next, right? Yup….some of the fur ends up getting pulled out by mistake, and Rugby gets absolutely offended! I’m pretty sure that it’s been the cause of some of Rugby’s mistrust with me in the early days. I wasn’t used to a dog with a tail, so his tail got stepped on and rolled on a whole lot! Rugby’s response is typically that he really thinks that I fully intended to hurt him. We have enough basis for trust now that I think he understands that humans are just clumsy with our big feet and office chairs. But in the early days, life was challenging with that floofy tail of his!
One of the things that I think is amazing about Rugby’s tail, is his response to it! He honestly seems very proud of his tail, and I think he knows that it looks really good! He guards it lovingly, and waves it like a flag when he’s happy, the long floofs gently and beautifully swaying back and forth with his movement. The real treat, however, is when he’s really excited, because then, instead of wagging it back and forth over his back where it curls, he rotates it in a full circle behind him like it’s an airplane propeller. The long floofs become a blur of fur, and the grin on Rugby’s face shows his obvious joy and delight.
When he’s on the move in a full run, he carries his tail straight out behind him in a long line. As he turns and moves, it becomes a rudder, shifting position to help guide him quickly into the turns he makes, but allowing maximum speed. And as he slows to a stop, his tail slowly and gently curls back up to it’s usual resting place, curled over his back. It’s as if he uses his tail as a built in braking system to help him stop.
My little speckled treasure of a dog is fearfully and wonderfully made. There is no end to the amazing and wonderful things I see and find in Rugby. He seems to like every single part of himself, and doesn’t appear to be self conscious of any of his body parts. He lovingly cares for himself, washing, licking, sniffing, preening his fur, seeming to realize that he’s all that and a bag of chips. Maybe part of the reason humans have so many body image issues is because we were never blissfully allowed to have a tail.