Case of the Broken Tail


Scout’s tail never stops moving. In full “love the one you’re with” Labrador enthusiasm, his otter tail is always thwacking his excitement.

I grew up in a Southern California desert canyon <cue ominous Wild West whistling> fueled by the fire of 1,000 suns.

It is a death valley of its own kind for lizards and lawns alike. My parents’ house has plant potters housing baby palm trees. Lizards scale the basket – lured by the mirage of water amid the cool 95-degree autumn afternoons. Cacti stand in mocking triumph over the fallen.


Morning arrived. By 7 a.m. it was already warm and sticky. Odd, because the desert is known to radiate a dry heat. Also, I was in the kitchen.

I flipped the lights on. I looked around. I was standing dead center on the set of an enraged Dexter scene. Blood spatter dotted the white tile floors. Oozing smears dripped down every cabinet surface.


Some kind of horrible event was clearly underway. I warily eyed the palm-tree planters just outside the French-door slider. Had the shrubbery grown tired of reptilian carnage and gone all Audrey II in a quest to grow big and strong?

Scout joined me at the scene of the crime. Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. His tail slammed against me and the base of the breakfast nook. Obviously he was attempting to scare off any nefarious flora or fauna still lurking about while I initiated a full investigation.

But the blood kept coming. It was a west coast Amnityville Horror remake. At least I realized the dog rarely dies in horror flicks. Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. My trusty guard dog clearly understood this as well.

Oh. My. God. It was the dog.

He had no idea. Was he really that dumb, or had he already bled out to the point of dying pain receptors. Was my sweet “Pinky” suddenly possessed by the spirit of Cujo?

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. It was his tail. He was painting the kitchen with bloody excitement. By the time others arrived in the kitchen I was busy reenacting a much more macabre version of the Great Pudding-splosion.

Since there was no blood on his bed, I could only guess at an unfortunate unrequited love encounter with the rosebushes. Alas, every smack of his tail against a solid surface broke apart the burgeoning scab – reopening the wound and increasing indoor carnage.

The poor pup was banished outdoors for the day. Not as punishment, but because the great wide open offered fewer scab-busting opportunities (other than then ground, which he enthusiastically set about thumping).

Fourteen hours later, Scout was still bleeding. (He was also still blissfully unaware and thwacking away.)

Despite the lack of danger, as evidence by his perpetual goofy grin, we decided it was time to continue our tour of California emergency vets. Because much like the number of licks to get to the center of a tootsie-pop, no one knows how many thwacks of a tail to bleed out.

An old sock was wrapped around the wounded appendage. The old sock was promptly flung across the room with authority once Scout discovered his leash was out in the open. Adventure is out there!

Apparently the exuberant canine pricked his tail in a rather precarious spot. And due to the large number of blood vessels in the waggy portion of the dog, every swish was propelling more blood out for an artsy Halloween decorated in the realism style.

His injury was bandaged in a teal tail-condom and duct-taped down. (For all the judgey looks as we left the vet with a dopey dog – no, he did not have surgery to dock his tail.) He was also issued a standard cone-of-shame. However, in a lucky turn of events, Scout did not need to endure that particular humiliation. There was no danger of him getting to his own tail; I’ve seen him chase it for hours on end before.

Still warm outside, despite the late evening hour, Scout went in search of water upon his return. The water bowl lay in the shade of the backyard gazebo. A gazebo landscaped with a variety of cactus genera around the perimeter.


Pokey, prickly, cacti. Right at thwacking height.

Cacti – 1
Dog – 0

Although we may just need to add a spike to the weighted tail and he’d be a great guard dog.

guarddog copy

1 Comment

Filed under Health, Pets

One Response to Case of the Broken Tail

  1. Holy bloody mess. I know the thumping well. We’ve had a few of our own. Lucky for them and our kitchen walls, none of them has ever lost a battle with a thorny bush. Hope he’s better soon!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.