Emmet Story #8: The Labrador Tail

Don't I look Cute with my Ear Flipped??

Emmet was pretty easy dog to read in terms of how he was feeling. It was easy to tell when he was happy or excited and equally easy to tell when he was scared or in pain. How you ask? It was that thick Labrador tail of his.

His life is full of examples of this, but I’ll give you just three that come to mind. The first, is when Emmet was still in training. I would occassionaly take Emmet to Target when I was doing my shopping so we could practice our “store” skills. One day, during the Christmas season, we were walking through the Christmas section of the store and I decided to walk down the aisle that was full of Christmas tree ornaments. Just as we started to walk down the aisle, an individual that Emmet knew walked into the aisle at the other end. Emmet recognized this person immediately, and began furiously wagging his tail. Unfortunately, the aisle was very narrow, and as a result of his wild tail gyrations, ornaments began flying off the shelves around him. I’m thankful we were at the end of the aisle that was featuring acrylic and plastic ornaments instead of blown glass!

Another one that comes to mind is when Emmet was around six years old. One afternoon, I was sitting in the kitchen and he was walking towards me from the front hallway. Suddenly, he started to stagger, like his legs were too stiff to move. Then he abruptly fell over. He kept trying to get up, and kept falling over. It was a seizure. I ran over and held him. I quietly reassured him that it was going to be okay. He was conscious the whole time, and despite the fact he was in distress, he still managed to wag his tail in appreciation when I said his name and tried to comfort him.

The last is still fresh in my mind because it was the day Emmet died. By the time we got him to the vet’s office in Hutchinson, he was in major distress and major pain. We held him as the doctor examined him and during it all, we could tell that we were at the end of the road with our boy. As we held him in his last moments, with tears rolling down our cheeks, my wife and I both told him, “We love you Emmet”. We knew he heard us and we knew he understood, because he still managed to thump his big Labrador tail on the floor in reply.


Emmet had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma in July of 2008. He died on September 27, 2008 of an unrelated condition called GDV, more commonly known as bloat. He was 10 years old. For a photo tribute of his life, click here.

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