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Ty Baby Update

This would be so much easier, in one sense, if Ty didn't have a tail that almost never stops wagging.

Ty's tail is a wonder in itself. So wonderful, in fact, it has its own set of nicknames. Kangaroo tail, tail of destruction, Great Destructo, thwap of joy.

When Dev competed at the State Fair, most other dogs would keep their tails still and down through their obedience trials and showmanship displays. But Ty? He'd stand in his showmanship pose, perfectly still except for the tail--which would speed up the moment the judge's attention turned his way. He'd go through his obedience exercises with the tail up and wagging. The only time it might stop was during the down-stay--the pups are required to lie down for a set period of time regardless of noise and distractions--when the day was warm enough Ty might doze off. Even the judges who saw Ty but once a year remembered him as the dog with the ever-wagging tail.

In our home, there is nothing breakable or spillable within 30 inches of the floor or a foot from a table or counter's edge. There are no stacks of paper, either. The tail of destruction trained us well. It can send a heavy coffee mug spinning with a single blow. It can scatter hundreds of manuscript pages with a merry sweep. We try to quickly train any new visitors by explaining their drink must stay in their hand, or be placed in the precise middle of the coffee table, but I've lost at least a dozen wine glasses over the last ten years. (And while his tail certainly can't reach as high as the breakfast bar, Ty was--until this last year--perfectly capable of helping himself to anything on the counters.)

If you stood at Ty's hip when he had a sudden fit of overwhelming joy, his tail would hit hard enough to hurt. There's a place on the kitchen doorway, near where Ty has stood for three years in anticipation of getting munchies and treats, that no longer has any paint on its edge.

That tail has operated as a rudder when he swam in rivers and ponds, visible just below the water's surface as it swayed lazily from side to side. We used to joke about Ty's ability to multitask. He could swim, drink water, and wag his tail all at the same time! Truly, one of my regrets is that it's too cold for us to give Ty a final opportunity to swim. He loves it so, so much.

And even now, when he's spending all but a few minutes every day resting and sleeping, that tail wags when someone makes eye contact, pets him, says his name (and any nicknames, and any mention of love), when Gambit sits beside him, when Gambit plays with his toys, when people-food comes near... Everything triggers the tail to wag.

Dev and I talked last night about whether we'd made the decision (our appointment is for Tuesday) was made too soon. We came to the conclusion we've reached the point that there will never, ever be a time that isn't "too soon" or "too late." As long as the tail wags, we'll wonder if it's too soon. But if the tail stopped, we'd know it was too late.

And we made an agreement that neither one of us needs to "be strong" for the other. (It's a habit we share, alas.)

So today, I'm writing while Ty sleeps on my foot. All I have to do is whisper, "Ty-baby Handsome," and the tail gives me half a dozen thumps.

I'm disabling comments here--not because I haven't appreciated the words of support y'all have offered, but because I simply can't respond to them right now while also continuing to function. Fortunately, I've pretty much purged from my life everyone who'd utter the phrase "just a dog" in my presence.

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Blair MacGregor
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