Jannie Balliett

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Childrens Stories

The Tail That Wagged The Dog

The Tail That Wagged The Dog
(inspired by my grandson and his Boxer, Rocky)
Rocky was always a happy Boxer until the day he realized he was different. He didn't have a long tail to wag like his neighboring friends that lived on the other side of the three fences connected to his yard. Rocky wanted to know why he didn‘t have a tail to wag like they did.

The little boy he belonged to was named Dillon, who teased him about his stubby tail that wagged him. instead of him wagging his tail like other dogs.

Dillon was a cute kid with blond hair and freckles. Rocky felt lucky to have him and a nice family too. He also felt lucky because they had another little dog named, Claudette, and she was fun to play with.

They enjoyed running and jumping around together and Rocky especially liked playing tug-of-war. Sometimes Dillon would take turns playing tug-of-war with them and Rocky loved to win. And sometimes he and Claudette would play with their friends through the fence. They would run back and forth racing to see who could reach the end of the fence line first. Rocky usually won but sometimes he'd let Claudette win.

Their favorite time of day was when Dillon would come home from school so they could play with him. Everyday at the same time, Rocky and Claudette watched through the big window in the living room waiting for Dillon to get off the school bus. When they saw him, they'd rush to the front door and sit patiently until Dillon came inside.

Happy to see Dillon, Claudette wagged her tail back and forth. Rocky tried to make his tail wag back and forth too, so he could show Dillon how happy he was to see him. Well, it was supposed to wag, but his stubby tail couldn't wag. Instead, it would just twitch a little and his body rippled and waggled.

Rocky tried even harder to get his little knobby tail to wag back and forth, but the only wagging was his body while his tail stayed still. It just wouldn't wag like Claudette's! The harder he tried to wag his tail, the more it would spin like a propeller as if he could take off and fly. Sometimes his stubby tail would twitch and spin so fast, it caused his hips to waggle so much that it bent him in half and his rear-end came around meeting his head! Dillon told him that was called'kidney beaning.'

His little stub of a tail had been cropped like other Boxer puppies' tails and was supposed to be real short and stubby. At least, that's what he'd heard his family talking about once. Someone must have cropped his tail when he was a very, very little puppy, because he didn't remember ever having a tail.

Dillon made fun of his tail and how Rocky's muscular body wagged instead. He teased him that the tail wagged the dog.

One afternoon after school, Dillon took him outside with Claudette. They played in the yard and had a lot of fun. Rocky decided it was his chance to roam and see the world and to find out if other dog's tails were just like his tail, or was like Claudette's. Maybe it was Claudette that was different and not him at all.

He ran away the first chance he got, heading down the street. Dillon chased him, but Rocky was too fast for Dillon to catch.

He went on a journey to find the answers. He wanted to know why he didn't have a tail to wag like Claudette and find out if other dogs were like him. Then, he met another dog. His name was Clumsy.

Clumsy had brown hair with white spots, not solid reddish-brown like Rocky's. He had long floppy ears that dragged the ground, not short like Rocky's. And Clumsy was short with very short legs. Not like Rocky's tall lean and muscular legs. Clumsy had a long tail that wagged back and forth. Not like Rocky's stubby tail that wouldn't wag at all.

"Hello. My name is Clumsy. I'm a Beagle. What's your name?"

Rocky looked at Clumsy, while he was still admiring his tail, then answered, "My name's Rocky and I live down on Oak Street. I think I'm a Boxer. At least that's what I'm told."

"I know where you live! You live with that cute little boy with the freckles!"

"Yes, I do. Well, I used to live with him," he answered.

"What do you mean Rocky... used to live with him?" asked Clumsy, wagging his tail in excitement.

"I ran away because he teased me about my tail. Mine doesn't wag like Claudette's and yours. I'm different and not like you," he sadly replied. "And I want to find out if there are other dogs with short tails like mine."

"That's really sad, Rocky. I thought all of us had tails to wag. Maybe you should continue your journey and find other dogs. Someone might be able to tell you if there's other dogs that don't have tails like you, then you'll know for sure," Clumsy told him.

Rocky thought that was wise advice and thanked Clumsy, continuing on his quest to find the answers that he needed.

He trotted down the street and saw a poster that was stapled on the corner street light pole. He stopped and sat down so he could read it. His picture was on the poster!

It read; ‘Wanted. Lost Boxer named ‘Rocky.' Last seen running down Oak Street. He has a stubby tail that doesn't wag like other dogs and his tail wags him instead. Reward! If you've seen Rocky, please call Dillon. P.S. Tell him that Dillon loves and misses him.‘

Rocky couldn't believe his eyes! His little boy Dillon was offering a reward for someone to bring him back home and loves and misses him, too!

Rocky sighed, but knew he had to continue his quest to find out why he didn't have a tail like other dogs did. He would go back home as soon as he had the answer to his question.

He continued down the street and saw a dog sitting in his front yard. Rocky stopped to talk to him, hoping he knew the answer to his only question.

"Hi. What's your name? My name is Spot and I'm a Terrier," he anxiously greeted Rocky, jumping up and down like a yo-yo.

Spot was little and had short white hair and brown spots with one brown spot around one eye. Rocky saw that Spot had a long tail that wagged back and forth. Not short and stubby like his own.

Rocky sat down on the tail he didn't have and answered, "I'm Rocky and I'm a Boxer. I'm on a journey to find other dogs and get answers."

"Oh? Well, there's lots of us in this neighborhood!" Spot told him, still wagging his tail back and forth. "What answers are you searching for, Rocky?"

"I'm searching to find out why I don't have a tail and if there are other dogs like me."

"Sure there are, Rocky. Where do you live?" he asked.

"I used to live down the street on Oak Street."

"I know where you live! You live with that cute little boy with the freckles. Why don't you live there anymore, Rocky?" Spot asked, curiously tilting his head.

"The little boy made fun of my stubby tail because I can't wag it like all the other dogs can," Rocky answered sadly, while looking down at the ground in shame. "And I want to find out if other dogs have short tails that don't wag like mine."

"That's really sad, Rocky. But, I'm sure there's other dogs that don't have tails, too. I've heard about them but never seen one myself until you ," Spot told him.

"Maybe there is, but I haven't seen any yet, either."

"Why don't you keep going down the street and meet the other dogs? Then you can find out for yourself that there are other dogs without tails."

"I think I will, Spot. It was nice to meet you. Good-bye," Rocky said, trotting down the street.

He strolled down the street searching for other dogs to meet. He saw more of Dillon's reward posters along the way. Some were nailed on posts in people's yards, some were displayed on light posts, stop signs, and others were on the windshield of parked cars.

He saw three dogs laying in a driveway, napping in the shade of an big oak tree. One was tall with long hair, another was smaller with curly hair, and the other one had shaggy hair all over his body.

The tall long-haired one, jumped up wagging his long tail back and forth, laughing at Rocky. "Hey guys! Look at this!" he yelled.

The other two got up and ran closer while wagging their long tails back and forth.

"What have we here? A dog without a tail to wag?" the shaggy one asked, while laughing at Rocky.

"Looks like a dog, but he couldn't be. He doesn't have a tail!" the curly haired dog yelled, laughing with them and wagging his long tail back and forth, too.

Rocky sat down on the tail he didn't have while the three rolled on the ground laughing at him even harder than before. He didn't say a word. He was too ashamed for being different than all the other dogs, then got up and headed down the street on his journey in search of other dogs to meet.

"Hey, you! Come here!" a voice shouted.

Rocky looked up and cocked his ears toward the direction of the voice and saw a dog sitting on a porch.

Trotting closer to him, Rocky silently thought, I hope he has a tail like mine and is like me. But, when the dog stood up, Rocky saw that his long tail wagged back and forth.

"My name is Rocky and I'm on a journey," he informed the dog.

"It's nice to meet you, Rocky. My name is Baxter and I'm a Border Collie. Do you have far to go on your journey?" he asked.

"Well, that depends."

"Depends on what, Rocky?"

"It depends on how long it takes to find other dogs like me," he told him, looking down at the ground and sitting on the tail he didn't have.

"Other dogs like you, Rocky? What do you mean, find other dogs like yourself? Another Boxer? What's so different about you?" Baxter asked.

Rocky stood up. "I don't have a long tail that wags back and forth like you do or the other dogs that I've met on my journey."

"Oh, there's other dogs like you, Rocky!"

"There is?" he excitedly asked.

"Yes. There's all kinds of us, Rocky. Short dogs and tall dogs. Dogs with long hair and dogs with short hair. Black dogs white dogs and brown dogs-- even dogs with a lot of different colors!" he informed him.

"I've found that out already, Baxter. But, I'm talking about dogs with long tails."

"Long tails? What do you mean?"

Rocky tried to explain to him, thinking, I don't think he'd understand, because he has a long tail, and wouldn't know what it feels like to be different like I am.

"I have a stubby tail and it doesn't wag back and forth like yours," Rocky finally answered.

"Oh that! Well Rocky, there are lots of us that don't have tails. Didn't you know that?"

Rocky got excited again and his stubby tail tried to wag but the harder he tried, the more his body wagged back and forth like a thrown stone, rippling across the water of a big pond.

"Really! Tell me more!" he begged.

"Sure! You're not different, Rocky. Not really. There's others like you, too. There's Dobermans, Schnauzers, Pit Bulls, and Great Danes, too! And of course, Boxers just like you, Rocky," he told him.

Rocky's tail wagged him in excitement. There are others like me! I'm not the only dog that doesn't have a tail! he thought. "But I haven't found them, Baxter. Where are the others like me?"

"Oh, they are around everywhere, Rocky. But just because you haven't seen them, or met them, doesn't mean there's not more like you out there."

Rocky was really getting more excited knowing there were others and maybe he wasn't so different after all. "I thought I was different because my tail isn't long and can't wag back and forth."

Baxter thought for a moment. "Rocky, I have a long tail that wags back and forth. You have a stubby tail that doesn't wag back and forth but instead, wags you. That doesn't mean you're different. Don't you see?" he asked.

"Well, no. No, I don't. Not really," Rocky answered.

"Okay, Rocky. Let me try to explain to you. You did have a tail when you were born just like all of us. You just can't remember having a tail. Some dogs are special. They crop the special dogs' tails. It's called docking," Baxter told him, then continued, "the owners of the special dogs: working, hunting and fighting dogs, felt that they would have fewer injuries if they didn't have floppy ears or long wagging tails that the other dogs could chomp on while working and hunting. Some special breeds like you Rocky, get excited and can break their tails accidentally. "

"Tell me more, Baxter, please tell me more!" Rocky said, as his knobby tail continued wagging him.

"Long, whip-like tails are easier to injure. It's a tradition as much as anything else, Rocky. Docked tails are part of the special dogs standard. Boxers just like you don't look as much like a Boxer without the short stubby tail," he told him. "It's safer for you not to have a tail that wags. It's what makes you so special!"

"I think I understand now. But, I still feel different!"

"Rocky, we are different. But we are the same. Just because I have a long tail that wags back and forth doesn't make me any different than you really. And just because you have a stubby tail that wags you, doesn't make you different from me. We are still dogs and the same. Each one of us are special in our own unique way. Don't you understand?"

"Yes, I think I do now, Baxter. Thank you for answering my question!" Rocky replied.

Rocky was happy and wanted to go back home.

He missed Dillon and didn't care now if he made fun of him anymore. I'm special, he thought, proud of his new discovery.

Rocky said good-bye to Baxter then ran all the way back home.

As he trotted up his sidewalk at home he saw Dillon sitting on the porch-step, crying.

Rocky stopped and sat down on the tail he didn't have, barking a happy hello to Dillon.

Dillon looked up. "Rocky! Rocky you're home! Come here, Rocky... come here!" the freckled-face boy yelled.

Rocky ran to him and Dillon wrapped his arms around him, crying with excitement and happy to have Rocky home again.

"I love you, Rocky. Please don't ever leave me again, you're so special."

Rocky licked Dillon's tears from his freckled-face and ran around in the grass, jumping sideways and up and down like a bucking bronco.

Dillon ran around in the yard chasing him just like they did everyday after school.

It was good to be back home.

Happy again, Rocky's tail wagged his body back and forth instead of his tail wagging like other dogs. And that was all right with Rocky because Rocky knew he was different for a reason... and was proud, because... he was special.


~The Happy Ending~

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... and Rocky lived happily ever-after.... stay tuned for more of Rocky's adventures...
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