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Dog Diaries

A Tucked Tail

by Diane Wainwright

Usually when I come home from work, my silly Lizzie meets me at the door with the rest of the pack, and follows me around wagging her tail like a helicopter rotor, smacking everything in its path. While she's doing that, she bounces on her front toes and wirggles her nose and whines. She knows the whining drives me crazy, but she whines at me anyway. Crazy dog.

The other day, she did not greet me at the door when I came home from work. When I called her name, she peered at me from the living room with a wild look in her eyes. I waded in her direction through a sea of happy hounds, but she turned with her tail tucked and scooted into the dining room. I shrugged and led the rest of the group to the back door so they could go outside.

Lizzie followed at a distance and hovered in the doorway to the kitchen, watching the open door as I encouraged her to go outside. She was having no part of me, so I walked away from the door. She ran through the kitchen and out the door as if she were being chased by an angry mob. Puzzled, I just shook my head

While the gang was outside, I went upstairs to change my clothes and I saw the cause of Lizzie's angst - the door to the master bedroom was closed. To Lizzie this would have been the equivalent to being kicked out of your favorite social club. She already has extremely low self-esteem and now someone had changed the morning routine and told her she was no longer worthy of the big master bed. She could not snuggle the memory-foam pillow or nest in the down comforter. She had been emotionally batteres and had all day alone to fret about it.

Armed with this knowledge, I went downstairs and lat all the dogs in. It took an extra biscuit to coax Lizzie through the door. The more difficult task was getting her to go upstairs. She already hates staircases, and her concerns about the closed bedroom door made her even more reluctanct to tackle them. Couple that with the fear that I would taunt her with the closed master bedroom door and you have one devastated dog.

I ended up playing a game: I chased her around downstairs until she had no choice but to climb the stairs to get away from me. I ran up behind her just in time to see her rump disappearing into the master bedroom. She heard my footsteps behind her and fell to the floor in her trademark submissive crouch - what I call the "S-Dog" position.

Picture this: a 75 lb dog lying on the floor with her tail tucked so far under her body you don't know she even has a tail. Back legs are hunched under her tummy, right hip plastered to the floor, and as your eyes follow her spine, you see it curved in a graceful "S" shape up to her shoulders, first to the right and then a gentle sweep to the left where you see her left shoulder flat against the floor. Her neck has the same sweeping arc back to the right where you see her nose tucked under her right shoulder, with her front legs askew at awkward angles as they keep the whole sculpture from tumbling over

Now I knew we had a grave situation. Lizzie doesn't contort herself into an S-Dog unless she's very upset. I backed off immediately and sat down about five feet away from her. I turned my head away so I wasn't looking at her and softly sang to her.

"Lizzie, Lizzie, why do you curve yourself so?"

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her soften the curves of her body as her hip and shoulder slowly rose up from the floor. I kept singing.

"Don't you know, it's just so, your back shouldn't bow."

She moved her front paws until they were aimed toward me, then started to crawl slowly in my direction. Her nose pointed straight to the floor, she opened her eyes and looked up with a hint of mischievous twinkle. I was getting to her. I slowly turned my body toward hers, still singing.

It's a silly thing, this chicklen wing, and you should just let it go."

She crawled close enough to reach out and smack me with her paw. I smacked her paw back and she smiled at me; she had fogiven me.

We smacked hands and paws some more and then I gave her some tummy rubs; she, in return, gave me some happy air-snaps. Suddenly, she jumped straight up onto her feet and leapt onto the master bed, threw herself across the pillows with a dramatic flair, and let out a big sigh of contentment. Crazy dog. Do you think she knows she had me at hello?

Greyhounds aren't just dogs, they are a way of life!