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Slices of Life

Daisy’s Tale

October 6, 2010
Traer Star-Clipper


Jill Pertler

Try to stop a Labrador retriever's tail from wagging. It isn't easy. This became our mission after our lab, Daisy, seriously injured her tail. Can you imagine a Labrador without also envisioning simultaneous wagging? Me neither. For those of you not familiar with a Labrador, wagging is akin to breathing. Labs wag incessantly. They thump their tails against end tables, walls, windows and expensive glass vases filled with flowers. They wag against soft couches and hard corners. They are wagalicious, wagaholic and wagariffic. To wag is to Labrador. The action is as ingrained in their blood as retrieving. (Perhaps they should be called Waglador retrievers?) Daisy's tail has seen its share of misfortune during her seven (human) years of existence. The worst, up until now, involved slamming it in the door of our minivan. Daisy lucked out that time (although I'm sure she would beg to differ). The slam left the tail bent, but not broken. It has succumbed twice to the malady referred to, quite accurately, as limp tail syndrome. Characterized by a loss of super-canine strength, the tail loses all muscle tone and wagability, leaving it drooping like a sad, wet dishrag. She's suffered numerous contusions to the tail, whereby we became aware of her wounds only after she'd walked from room to room wagging and flinging blood in an indiscreet manner, most often on and around her food dish. Blood of the excessive variety was the first clue to her latest and greatest injury. In the past, when she cut her tail, the bleeding was a nuisance. This time, I thought I'd left small town USA and entered a Crime Scene Investigation Unit. I now consider myself a blood spatter expert, or at least really good at cleaning it up. TGFW, with the W being Windex. Believe it or not the blood and clean up was the least of our worries. Our Daisy was bleeding. And hurt. The actual injury is a bit of a mystery. She got her tail caught somewhere and left the tip of is as a souvenir for some lucky passerby. The vet pronounced the wound non-life-threatening. Then he said the word that frightened us all: amputation. As it turns out, she ended up with a partial amputation, losing about three-inches of her wagnificant tail. We were sad, but we still had Daisy. When she returned home with a tail wrapped in pink bandages (Daisy is nothing if not fashionable), our goal became preventing further injury brought on by excessive wagging. The vet helped us in this regard by furnishing Daisy with a head cone. You know, the apparatus famous for making every dog cringe with embarrassment because it inhibits the ability for said dog to lick its behind. Daisy's problem wasn't about licking her behind; we worried about her biting her tail and adding insult to injury. We wanted to maintain the tail that remained; so, demeaning or not, the plastic shroud of shame was around to stay (sorry, Daisy!). The funnel-like apparatus became a cone of contention for our pooch. As it turns out, that was a good thing. The dome of doom humiliated Daisy to the extent that her wagometer dipped down into the negatives. A tail that does not wag cannot hit hard objects. If we didn't know better, we might have thought she was suffering from limp tail syndrome again. That was over a week ago. Since then, Daisy's rejoined the road toward normalcy. She learned to drink from her water dish without tipping it over. She mastered the art of eating treats without letting them drop to the ground. She learned to go through doorways without knocking her cone into the wall. Even her tail perked up somewhat. Before long, the cone and bandages will come off and I'm willing to bet she'll wag like there's no tomorrow. Which goes to show, you can't keep a good dog or her tail down for long. I think that's nothing less than wagtastic. Slices of Life is collecting followers on Facebook! Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication." She offers writing and design services at



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