No Tail, No Love

That’s what we say to, and about, Amy. If she has no tail, she can’t wag it in happiness, and if she doesn’t have a tail to wag, she can’t be happy. She does have a little nub, and my oh my can that nub make waves when it gets going. You should see it when Jim comes home from work. You could power a Vespa with it. Sometimes kids get freaked out when they see she really doesn’t have a tail, so we tell them she has a teeny tiny little one and she can wag it as well as any other dog. They ask if she was born without one, and we gloss over the subject and say she’s never had a tail. She did, but I’m not going to explain that it was pseudo-surgically removed shortly after her birth. Their parents understand though and will ask, “Was she born that way or was it docked?” And we tell them it was docked, but so soon after her birth, naturally and painlessly, and she’s never missed it a day in her life. I also explain the traditional reasons why Pem corgis have had their tails docked: Since they were bred to herd cattle, they were bred short & skittish to avoid kicks from cows; having a docked or naturally bobbed tail means the cow can’t step on your tail, either. Docking keeps the dogs safe and whole. Some Pem corgis are born with full tails, some are born with bobs. Amy, I assume, had a full tail before she was docked, but I can’t imagine her with it.

Most of the corgis we’ve met in the last few months have comparatively huge stubs, or bobs. Amy’s rear end is just so much more attractive, I think, and I’m sure I’m not biased just because I’m her mother. She just looks so streamlined. She’s got this little poof where her tail is, and when she’s happy it’s poofier and when she’s REALLY happy, the poof goes wild. I can even tell, sometimes, when if she had a tail, it would be tucked between her legs.

You can tell a lot about a dog’s mood by its tail, and sometimes I wonder if I should have waited for a Cardigan corgi for my first dog — a dog with a tail to communicate with. I have to guess, with Amy, how she’s feeling and what she’s trying to say to me, and how she feels about other dogs. I have to watch her eyes, her ears, her whole body. A dog with a tail would have been so much easier to read.

But when have I chosen to do things the easy way? Amy’s lack of tail doesn’t seem to bother other dogs; at least, it doesn’t seem like they can’t understand her communications. She did seem confused by tails on other dogs at the very beginning, like they were separate entities and she didn’t appreciate them whacking her in the face when she tried to greet their owners. She navigates tails much more easily now. And if other dogs don’t think she mumbles when she talks, then I can just as easily learn to read her body language without the tail as with it. The tail, in essence, is just a communicative crutch. It magnifies the message which can be plainly read without it. I do read other dogs’ tails to judge how they feel about Amy, whether they are feeling playful or aggressive or submissive.

(True comedy: The morning a poodle pup ran up to Amy with his tail firmly tucked up against his stomach and his bottom almost on the ground as he ran. The neighbor apologized that he had squirmed free. I said it was fine, he was approaching her in a submissive way so she was unbothered. It was funny how desperate he seemed to submit to this older female dog he’d never seen before. And whom he was three times taller than. But Amy has that effect on some younger dogs.)

In the tail end (haha, pun intended), I wouldn’t trade anything to give Amy a tail, or to have gotten a tailed dog instead of the comical little munchkin we ended up with. She’s adorable, and she’s comical, and half her charm is the fact that she has no proper tail but this poofy little nub perched on top of her pantaloons. I can’t imagine her with a tail as though she’d never been docked. Her taillessness — or nubbularity, because she does have a tail albeit nubby — is as much as part of her personality as a tail would be on any other (non-Corgi) dog.

And my, oh my, doesn’t that tail wag when Daddy comes home! Happiness, truly, is the wag of a little dog’s tail.

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