Paul Harvey, the preeminent commentator heard by millions of Americans each day on their radios, offered some interesting insight recently on how one may tell whether or not "man's best friend" is enamored by your presence. Mr. Harvey stated that if a dog, possessing a noticeably detectable tail, was wagging said appendage in a particular manner, that one could utilize this visible clue as a true and dependable indicator of the dog's intention to accept one as a friend or foe. If it is observed that the dog's tail is wagging primarily on the right hand side of its body, the person is being regarded as favorable. If, however, the tail is beating a gig on the left hand side of it's body, beware...you may be being evaluated as an axe murderer.
I was intrigued by this bit of observation and decided to put it to the test. Not personally possessing a member of the canine breed as a pet, having two cats that hold honored sway in our household, I had to search around for a qualifying member of the species...that is, one that had a tail of significant proportions so as to leave no doubt in my mind as to which way it's evaluation of my personage was swaying. The opportunity to test Mr. Harvey's theory came recently as a result of my daughter and her best friend having been moved into a home in close proximity to our own.
It fell to me and my dear wife to undertake the majority of the moving duties to get Megan out of her room on the campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa and across the bay to St. Petersburg. While making numerous trips lugging furniture and a myriad of personal items in to the house, I became aware that a dog...what sounded like a "large" dog...resided at the next door neighbor's. It's barks announcing to us that it was well aware that strangers were close to it's proximity and that it wished to let us know that we were close to its. It was during this time that I began to question whether or not this particular dog was the best candidate to try out Mr. Harvey's observations. Petey had other ideas...
Petey, so named no doubt by his owners, because of his obvious striking resemblance to the "Petey" dog that graced many of the Little Rascals movies of yesteryear. (I'm dating myself). While I was taking a well deserved break on the front steps, Petey made an appearance in his owner's front yard and promptly took my measure. Lying flat on his stomach, no tail wagging was evident. Neither was any threatening barking, for which I was thankful. Summoning up my courage I beckoned Petey to come to me. After a few halting starts, Petey jumped to his feet and came bounding the few feet across his yard to where I was sitting. The next thing I knew Petey had his front paws on my chest and his tongue was busying itself giving my face a thorough bath. And his tail? It was wagging enthusiastically back and forth for all it was worth with neither side receiving preferential treatment. Either Mr. Harvey was mistaken in his assumptions or I need still to find yet another dog on which to test his premises. For the time being I have found a new friend in Petey.
Wouldn't it be interesting if people had the ability to display such an obvious pronouncement of their intentions towards other people? Right away one could look at an approaching fellow human being and size up immediately if he or she wished us good or ill. I am thankful, however, that God in his infinite wisdom decided against adorning His human creation with wagging tails. It certainly would give new meaning to formal wear garb of top hat and tails. In the mean time I am going to keep on the look out for more dogs to observe and to seriously consider forgoing the age old greeting practice of shaking a person's hand. I'm leaning towards just licking their face. Thanks Petey.