Monday, May 21, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Limber Tail: The Perils of Cold Water

There was a break in the gloomy grey weather last Sunday. It made for the perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. The humans took me to North Andover to the Weir Hill Reservation. It was perfect weather to enjoy a walk along a wooded trail.

I'm not a huge fan of water. After it rains I spend a significant amount of time calculating how to get around puddles while I'm walking. I just don't like wet paws. When it's really bad (the streets in Cambridge often collect streams of running water) I will sit down and give the human an intense look hoping hill pick me up and carry me over the larger puddles. It generally works. I'm convincing like that. Sometimes, however, the moment overcomes me and I need to rush into the water. Here I am scampering into the water. It looks refreshing, doesn't it?

It was so refreshing that I decided to splash. There were tiny little fish swimming around. Having had fish on occasion for dinner, I got excited to discover that potential food was swimming around my paws.

What I didn't realize was just how cold the water was. More about that in a minute. It becomes an important part of this story.

Bet you didn't know therapy dogs knew how to fish? Look at the intensity in my eyes. Those little fishies didn't stand a chance against my determination. No chance against my interest in food either. I am part Basset Hound. We are known for thinking with our noses and stomachs.



Of course, the one thing that I hadn't anticipated when fishing is that fish are actually alive. They wiggle. I didn't particularly care for that sensation. The fish got away. All that wiggling is apparently a fish superpower that keeps them out of my super mouth. Not very fair, if you ask me. 

In that the fish got away, it was time for me to return to shore. That's where I remembered that I really don't care for water. I'm also not very good at swimming. Being long and somewhat awkward, I tend to sink down with my head bobbing under the water. The next two images are rather sad. You can tell that I'm scared.



Now here is the real issue that no one anticipated. The water was extremely cold. All right, I'm exaggerating. It was cool. Not body temperature. Later that evening the human watched me get off the couch after a nap and was aghast: my tail appeared broken. It was dangling down--not in it's usual upright and wagging position. He felt my tail up to see if it was broken. Nope. He got no complaints from me (though it was a little strange being felt like that). After some careful consultation with Dr. Google he diagnosed me with a condition called limber tail (aka wet tail, cold tail, or dead tail).

The typical presentation is a young adult dog (that's me, nearly 3 years old) with an "acutely flaccid tail that hangs down from the tail base or is held horizontally for 3-4 inches and then drops down. The tail remains in this position even when the dog moves about... The cause of limber tail is not known although it is thought to be associated with hard workouts, heavy hunting, and swimming or bathing in water that is too cold or too warm."

I have already had a full recovery. My tail is back in it's upright and wagging position and no permanent damage appears to have occurred.



Please note the position of my tail in the first picture in this blog post. My tail is nearly always in the upright and wagging position unless I'm scared--or in this case when I'm suffering from limber tail.

Lastly, since the human likes to embarrass me, he took a video of my poor floppy tail. I asked him not to share this and humiliate me over my unfortunate condition but he has (thus far) ignored my protests). It's particularly embarrassing as I'm peeing at the end of the clip. He doesn't respect my privacy very much.