Without a Rudder

Here in the “S” household, we have two very sad puppies. Our boats are without rudders. That is to say, Tonka & Gaige may have overdone it with their water adventures yesterday. Both dogs seem to have sprained their tails, giving them extra paw-thetic body language.

Have your dogs ever sprained their tails? The first time I noticed it was when Tonka was just a puppy, and we brought him on our family vacation to the beach. He loved every second of jumping in the waves, trying to catch them as they rushed to shore and then were sucked back into the open. After a long evening nap, he woke up to the smells of dinner wafting from the grill on the back deck. We noticed as he lazily wondered out to join us, that there was no customary tail wag in greeting. His tail hung low at his hocks, not varying its angle or movement.

My only explanation for this is that when dogs swim, their tails move somewhat like rudders. They also may use their tails for balance when on dry land, and when jumping onto furniture or maneuvering up and down stairs.

Of course, dogs use their tails as one of their most obvious forms of communication. When they are guarding their homes or their people, and notice potential danger, their tails may elevate in warning. This warning may notify their fellow home-dwellers of imminent threats (typically of the chipmunk and bunny variety, in our home), but it can also be a sign to the challenger, of potential aggression. A dog that is dog-aggressive may often lift their tail, a typical indicator of dominance. Most of us know that a fearful dog will tuck their tail between their legs. A happy, confident dog will often maintain a level tail with a quick wag. However, a wagging tail does not always indicate a pawsitive pooch. A dog with threatening body posture may elevate their tail and wag it slowly, and this can be a sign that he or she is threatening aggression.

Our home has been quieter than normal as far as body-communication goes. There are no wiggly tails in anticipation of breakfast goodies, or waggly tails high in the air during play bows at play time. The pups have been lying low, acting extra cuddly, and avoiding jumping onto furniture or negotiating the stairs. Poor babies!

In other news…

Introducing Miss Georgia!

The sweet Georgia girl

Georgia is a little lady that has had a hard life, which is unfortunately so typical of so many dogs that are unlucky enough to look like her. Our rescue pulled Georgia and her six puppies from a high kill shelter in Georgia. They were all set to be euthanized. Worse still, this particular shelter still utilized the heart stick* procedure of euthanasia. Once she was safely pulled from the shelter, it was found that she was also infected by heart worms. The process for treating this is long, risky, and painful for the animal. She is now free from parasites, and her puppies have all found homes, so now it is finally Georgia’s turn! She was a wonderfully caring and attentive mother. Her nurturing nature is evident in her interactions with humans and animals, as she loves other dogs, large and small, and also adores children. We will be posting additional pictures of her in the coming days. She will be joining us in early October, and we are so excited! We are slowly acquiring the necessary supplies to keep her happy and healthy in our home. Stay tuned for more!

Heart stick euthanasia: A syringe filled with sodium pentobarbitol is plunged through the animal’s chest wall, passing through layers of muscle and nerves, until it reaches the heart. This can be a difficult process for those that are not properly trained, and the medication will cause a searing pain and produce acid-like burns. A statement from the American Veterinary Medicine Association says “Intracardiac injection is acceptable only when performed on heavily sedated, anesthetized or comatose animals, owing to the difficulty and unpredictability of performing the injection accurately.”

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