Tail damage on a Spaniel

Matty

Manorrog Miss Matty was born on 2nd April 1994 and came to me at six months old. She had a fine full tail and looked beautiful with it when she carried it proudly like a flag, waving and wagging. However beautiful it may look, it was soon obvious to me that the practicality of docking was not a case of cruelty if docked, but cruelty not to dock.

After her initial obedience training and some success at country fairs in scurries and tests we began serious work in September 1995 on a major partridge shoot near Grantham. Even on the first day her tail became cut working in tall maize. As the season progressed and Mattys experience grew we moved on in October to pheasants and we worked in the beating line on two major local shoots. We also worked on rough shoots on disused railway lines around this part of Lincolnshire. These heavily overgrown areas caused havoc with her tail and it soon became apparent that I will have to have her tail removed, a risky operation at her age involving a full anaesthetic.

I had an open mind about docking when I took Matty. Now I am convinced never to have a full tailed spaniel again. The cruelty is not in docking, but in not docking. The enclosed photograph of her battered tail and a bloodstained dog are proof of this.

Matty worked probably three days a week on average through the season and I appreciate this is more often than many dogs. The point is that she had an unnecessary problem brought about by not being docked. It is my intention to work my dogs as least as often as this again this coming season, however, should I use Matty? The evidence is plain: Matty worked alongside many other dogs, not just mine, and no others had damage similar to hers.

I hope this evidence is of some use to you. Please feel free to use any photograph in any way you may wish.

Yours faithfully

Kevin Leach

Colsterworth Lincolnshire