Friday, December 31, 2010

The lecture: can the tail wag the dog?

I have been asked this question enough times in my life, that I feel I must once and for all debunk the phrase.

While it is true that humans often say that the "tail is wagging the dog"' the reality is, that is a physical impossibility. Ehmm It is an anatomical impossibility. It all has to do with nerves, synoptic impulses, brain stuff and such, I looked it up in Miller's Anatomy (the Gray's Anatomy Book of the canine set.)

I have personally owned a tail for eight years and not once, not ever did my tail try to wag me!

Rest assured that your tail will NEVER wag you. Your tail takes orders from your head and not the other way around. It is like your paw, like your tongue, like your ears. You tell it what to do.
Don't fear your tail, my fellow four leggeds! Remember that it is behind you for a reason! It follows you and it does not lead you. It is YOUR tail, only you can do with it as you please.

So why is it that two leggeds speak this terrifying untruth? WHY? Is it to torture 4leggeds by instilling a new irrational fear?

Yes it is a sad truth, but we have all experienced it. The lie. The human lie. Don't look at me like that. I know it's hard to face. We all would love our humans to be always honest...BUT... How many times has "going for a ride" turned into a trip to the vet? How many times has "treat" been used to refer to...vitamins? How many times have you heard "not good for you"? [there might be some truth to that one]. Bottom line is humans lie. Some with good intentions and some...just 'cause they can.

But on this one expression, the reasons for it are far different.

They are rooted in deep jealousy and ignorance. Yes, jealousy. Humans are absolutely envious of our fantaboulous tails. It adds to the "carriage". In all its glory, a great tail is the most sincere expression of a dog's state of mind. The kind of sincerity that humans have difficulty with.

The origins of the phrase reveal much about humans and their state of mind... so, read on and stop fearing the irrational!
The Phrase Finder says, and I quote:


An item of minor importance dominating a situation.


This expression probably originated in the USA. There isn't a specific incident that it refers to that can be located there but there are many instances of it in print in US publications from the 1870s onwards, whereas there are none that come from any other country until well into the 20th century. The earliest citation that I can find is from The Daily Republican, April 1872: "Calling to mind Lord Dundreary's conundrum, the Baltimore American thinks that for the Cincinnati Convention to control the Democratic party would be the tail wagging the dog."

Ha- to quote Dr Sheldon from BIG BANG.... humor, "hah sneer ha". The terrifying phrase was an attempt at humor...
Well, fear not your tail! Enjoy it! Wag it, flare it, do as you will it is YOUR tail and you are the only one in charge of it!

Guest Lecturer for the Truth Series.


bichonpawz said...

Happy New Year JD! We just love all of your pictures!!! We don't get to see very much of you! Please pass on our best wishes to your family! Your story about the tail is very interesting!! xoxo Chloe and LadyBug

silvieon4 said...

Thank you ladies, you know, the kidlet (Silvieon4) is not always generous with her blog. Passed on your best wishes and momma said to wish you health, happiness and love in 2011.