Jasmine was suffering from a malady known as "cold tail", "limber tail", "rudder tail", or "swimmers tail". I was never taught about this in school, but luckily years ago before my first case I read about it on VIN, the Veterinary Information Network- a computer network for veterinarians to discuss cases and get advice from specialists. This is definitely NOT a specialist type case- it's more the type that "Old Doc" can spot in the waiting room but might have the new grad scratching their head! (I guess it is somewhat of a bummer that I am far closer the the "old doc" than "new grad" category these days!). Most hunting dog trainers are quite familiar with this condition as well.
Jazzy's tail had a little more tone than most; in most cases the whole tail will hang limp or the first few inches will be held out straight behind with the rest of the tail hanging limp. The dog still can move it normally and has normal neurologic responses. Many of these dogs are extremely painful. It occurs almost exclusively in short haired sporting breeds, and the most common history is that they had heavy exercise which most likely involved swimming or bathing and/or cold, wet weather. I did find a couple reports (in labs, of course!) where it occurred the day after a prolonged party or family gathering, where the dog's tail never stopped wagging all day! Occasionally prolonged cage rest has been associated as well.
This wasn't the easiest thing to demonstrate in photos but hopefully you can get the idea. Sometimes the hair on the top of the tail will be raised; Jasmine did not demonstrate this symptom.
So what causes it? A study was actually done on several Pointers by Dr. Jan Steiss at Auburn and found that there was damage and inflammation in the coccygeal muscles (which connect the pelvis to the first few tail vertebrae). When swimming, these dogs use their tail as a rudder and in effect pushing against the water is similar to isometric exercises. Any exercise which emphasizes this "rudder" function of the tail has the potential to produce the problem. Most dogs will improve within a few days to a week, and anti-inflammatories can help to make them much more comfortable.
In Jazzy's case, she had had what sounded like a prior episode while vacationing in Florida and swimming in the ocean. Dogs who have one episode have a 50/50 chance of having future episodes. We sent her home on NSAIDs and expect her to make a full recovery in no time. Should she not recover as expected, we will look further for more serious issues but I 'm pretty confident that cold tail is our answer!
Here's a link to an article that gives a little more info if you are interested: