The Not Too Tall Tale of the Tail -or- The Shortened Tail’s Tale
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, June 26, 2012
I don’t much write about myself on this blog, and there are several reasons for that, not the least of which is that, in some way, I don’t think many people care… either about me, my life, or anything else other than what is beyond the end of their noses. And yet, I may be wrong.
Call it skeptical, if you will, or perhaps even cynical, but to my way of thinking, there are many more things which are far more interesting in life. And of those things which are interesting, I am probably least among them. For those primary reasons, I do not write about myself, or my experiences. Further, I suppose that what I think, and how I feel is adequately expressed in the thoughts that do proliferate on this blog. Besides, I don’t have to be talking about myself all the time. I think that’s a rather healthy self-perspective – to not be self-consumed, but to be more concerned with others, than with self. The word for the antithesis of that characteristic is narcissism. And I am definitely not that.
Be it right, wrong, or indifferent, it’s what I’ve done. And for the greatest part, I probably won’t change that – though I perhaps could, to some extent. We’ll see.
However, this time, I’d like to take a brief respite, or departure from that approach, and share something that, for one reason or another, continues to touch my heart. So for a moment, please indulge me.
Today, I was motivated to write an email message to a man whom I’ve met only once – and it was for only a few short hours, at the very most. However, I must say with all sincerity, that having met him, I was impressed immediately with a sense of his love of humanity, of unfeigned compassion, a heartfelt smile, welcoming personality, and gentle way. Rare indeed is the man who possesses such characteristics.
(Having not selected any, it’s interesting to see the different tags that come and go as I write.)
Earlier today, I learned that this gentleman’s dog died. At the time, I wasn’t certain if the note of the dog’s death was a joke, or not, and inquired further from a mutual friend who had shared about it. Later in the day, I decided to send a note of condolences to him, and within my note shared how I empathized with his feelings, and sense of loss. I wrote:
I know how you feel, because several years ago, I had lost my German Shepherd Dog Princess. She was about 9, I believe, and had begun to show advanced signs of hip dysplasia. It was especially hard for me because I had to put her in foster care for a time, because I was in transition, and at the time, had no place to keep her. I can still recollect her longing & sorrowful barks as I left the yard of that dear couple who mercifully took her in. It wasn’t long after that she died. I was heartbroken beyond imagination. And, as I write this, I still tear up at the thoughts. She was such a very good dog. People always remarked about her saying either, “Oh my, what a well-behaved dog,” “oh my, what a beautiful dog,” or, “oh my, what a big dog.” She was 75lbs, and for a bitch, that is large. She, like Cooper, was solid black.
Another longtime friend had remarked long ago that, “dogs give unconditional love.” We talked about that idea, and I expressed some reluctance to the notion that dogs could love. Fondness, yes. Devotion, yes. But love? I wasn’t certain. Although I could understand what he was attempting to express, and we left it at that.
Some years later, he followed up on that thought with a joke along that line, and said, “Lock your wife and your dog in the trunk of your car. Come back for them in an hour, and see who’s glad to see you.”
We both laughed at that, and realized the truth of if. Sure, it’s hilarious. And, it’s true. And unlike the Nike commercial… Just don’t do it.
There are so many thoughts and memories racing through my imagination as I write this, it’s almost difficult to know where to start, or even how to follow through. However, I shall continue.
I recollect a time when Princess was with me while I was at a friend’s house. There weren’t many times when she wasn’t with me. That was part of my training of her, to acclimate her to as many environs as possible, so that she would be obedient and well behaved in all circumstances and situations.
Princess had been outside – she absolutely loved being outside – and we let her back in briefly. It was in the summertime, and unbeknownst to us, as the screen door closed, it caught just the tip of her tail – about an inch and a half, or so – and as it closed, chopped off that short segment of her tail. She let out no yelp, bark, howl, or any expression to alert us.
One of the “pet” names I had for Princess was “tail whapper,” because she was always and forever wagging that long, furry black tail, swishing it to, and fro. Even as she would lie curled up in her favorite spots, whether on the floor, or in my lap, you could tell she was happy because that tail would start moving – if no more than just a wee bit. A dog’s tail is definitely a virtual canine weathervane, assisting in telling us how a dog is thinking. Happy? Barking? A treat? Go outside to tee-tee, or doo-doo? The tail is immediately set in rapid motion! Of course, that joyful expression could also take out dainty and fragile curios, coffee cups and other items on coffee table level. But all that’s part and parcel of the joys of dog ownership.
So imagine the amazement I had of seeing blood on the wall, and drops of blood dispersed throughout the living room, tracing through the kitchen and into the hallway.
Immediately I called out asking if my friend was cut or bleeding because there was blood “all over the place.”
Through the process of deduction, we quickly discovered the source of blood. Princess’ tail had been cut off. Just the tip, however. But cut off, it was, and because of her beautiful, shiny, long black fur, it wasn’t readily seen from where the blood was coming.
So I set out to examine her, and reaching her tail, saw where it had been severed. There, in the tip, were two small arteries, pumping out just enough blood to make a mess with each heartbeat.
Again, Princess was essentially oblivious to her own wound, and her only expression of any kind – if it could be called that – was to turn around, look at me fiddling with her tail, and attempt to lick the wound. Go figure. What a great doggie!
With arteries – being what they are – it’s more difficult to stop the flow of blood from them, than it is from veins. And so, after a period of time, I was successfully able to get the blood clotted and sealed the wound. Do you know, or can you imagine how difficult it is to keep any kind of bandage or wound wrapping on the tip of a happy dog’s tail? You might as well try to catch water with a sieve. But again, I was able to surmount that obstacle… albeit with some trial and error.
Not only because the wound was on the tip of her tail was it difficult to keep a bandage on it, but because animals just don’t like bandages. For that matter, neither do humans. Ever found or heard of anyone expressing any sense of joy over having a limb entombed in the above-ground living casket called a “cast”?
I daresay you have not. And rather, we know that. Furthermore, no one likes walking around with a raggedy whatever hanging off or on any body part. We despise them. And after a while, they start to stink. They accumulate grody funk that grows in the filth of our own sweat and sebum. Yeah. That’s really sanitary. NOT!
Once, I recollected having Princess with me while I was visiting my parents. My brother and his family had also come for a brief visit, and I was demonstrating Princess’ search and retrieve skills by throwing a stick at some distance from the house. I told my nephew matter of factly that Princess would find the stick no matter where he threw it. I knew her just that well, and had trained her so.
As I handed the stick to him, I encouraged him to “throw it anywhere you want. She’ll find it.”
“Anywhere?” he asked.
“Anywhere,” I replied.
So he threw the stick into the most dense group of weeds and vines that you could imagine. They were the kind that grew along creekbanks and waterways, and provided lush groundcover for landscape architects’ designs.
Off she went, bounding with great anticipation, toward where she thought he’d thrown the stick. Bear in mind, the dog doesn’t watch where the stick might be thrown, but rather watches the stick, and it’s direction of travel. However, that doesn’t mean they can always follow it’s trajectory. That’s but one reason why the Almighty gave them good sniffers.
After a few moments had passed – it was taking her a bit longer to find and retrieve the stick than when I had thrown it – my nephew lost interest in observing Princess. He was but a young lad then, and as young lads go, had the attention span of a housefly. So, having confidence in Princess, I returned with my nephew to whatever he was doing. After about two, perhaps three minutes, or so, up came Princess with the stick in her mouth, and presented it to my nephew.
I shall never forget the expression on his face. His eyes became as big as the proverbial saucers, and as his jaw became slack, his mouth opened wide in utter amazement. To say he was astounded would be a gross understatement.
“I told you she’d find it and bring it back,” I said with a vocal sense of satisfaction.
There are times I miss that dog.
And to say that I loved her… well, I did.
It’s amazing how we can give our hearts to so many things. How we have the capacity for compassion continues to be a source of wonderment for me.
Our hearts aren’t little things that we tie up in pretty bows and adorn with baubles, which we only take out on occasion.
No, our hearts are like Princess – bloodied but not complaining, obedient, devoted, desiring ever to serve, ever to please. And at times of rest, curling up near our master, safe in the knowledge that the master knows best, will not purposely disappoint, and ever hoping, we can safely rely.
Can, or does a dog love?
I do not know.
But I do know this: We can love many things, and a dog is one among them.
Is there any wonder they’re called “Man’s best friend”?