Thursday, April 19, 2012

(AF) A TALE OF TAILS


No one wants me 'cause I have a tail.
 I have one puppy left (Big Bubba). Setting aside our ever declining, horrible economy slowing down calls for puppies (I use to have a waiting list), the biggest reason I am having such a hard time selling them this year (and the vet warned me this would happen) is that I chose NOT to mutilate them by having their tails amputated. There is absolutely NO need to put them through that!

The views of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) run right along with mine. You can read what they have to say about it here.

Currently there is only one reason for docking a puppy's tail (or having their dew claws removed, for that matter), and that is for cosmetic purposes. But there are such a multitude of reasons to NOT dock their tails, that I could never list them here in just one little post, but I will name a few.

When I started out raising Boxers, I always took them to the vet to have their tails docked and their dew claws removed. I was told I wouldn't be able to sell them otherwise. Since I make sure my puppies are the strongest and healthiest possible, in every way, I took them to the vet to have the procedure done. Everyone kept telling me how (simple) it was to do-it-yourself, but that seemed even more cruel, it is an actual amputation, and I wanted to leave no room for problems.

But problems did arise. Even though the tails were stitched, they often popped open, bled more, and looked pretty bad, sometimes exposing a bit of bone. Often times, infection set in, especially into where the dew claws were removed. Those infections are very difficult to fight and, over time, I ended up losing several puppies as infection traveled up the foot, through the leg and into the body/heart .... an infection that no antibiotics seemed to be helping. This was heart wrenchingly sad for me, the momma dog, and especially the puppy. Watching a puppy going through this - an elective, unnecessary procedure done strictly because someone thinks it looks 'cool' - is horrifying!

Then there is the pain issue. They say it doesn't hurt them, they are too little. But it does hurt! (even in the womb, a person/animal feels pain, that has been proven) Each time I sat there in that vet's office, as the tails were being 'done', I was horrified at the sounds I heard coming from down the hall and a few rooms away. There is no describing the agonizing yelps and yipes those tiny puppies made. It hurt them... and it hurt them BAD!!!  And to hear the obvious pain they were in, hurt me to my very core, physically and emotionally. I couldn't believe I was doing this to these poor tiny babies, simply because I had succumbed to societies vain dictates.

The puppies cried, and cried HARD. They WERE in pain! Then there was the momma back at home, frantically wondering where her babies went. Once back home, SHE was horrified at what had happened to her babies! She would try to 'lick' and comfort them, but it hurt them for her to lick their tail, which upset her further. The 'removal' experience was so stressful for some puppies, that just the shock of it killed them. Some puppies were so stressed that, even though they had been eager nursers before, they completely quit eating and either died or were weakened when they had to be force fed. Then there is the bowel issue. A momma dog 'licks' her puppy's hinney to stimulate them to go to the bathroom. After the tails have been amputated and she tries to do this, it hurts them, they cry, and she stops. This often results in them not being able to go poopey, they bloat up, and, once again, sometimes die, or at least, interferes with their development. All this suffering simply for people's vanity!!!

At the sight of the amputation, often times, the hair doesn't grow back, or at best, not fully. And the stub end always stays tender. I also have no doubt but that arthritis sets in as many of these dogs age. I mean, this IS part of their spine, and anyone that has ever had a spinal injury can attest to how painful the arthritis can get.  I, myself, can definitely vouch for that!

Then there is the set-back issue. Yes, this procedure shocks their tiny little bodies! It is an amputation, they are AWAKE and it puts an extreme stress on their bodies, which takes time for them to recover from. These puppies are only a few days old, at a critical stage of fast growth, and it drastically slows that down... temporarily halting, and even reversing, development (physically, mentally and emotionally). But if this procedure is always performed, there is nothing to compare what their actual growth and development could actually be.

So for this current litter of puppies, I decided my puppies would KEEP their toes and tails. With the agonizing sounds of the last litter still echoing through my head, and the heart wrenching pain I still feel just thinking back to the heart breaking suffering of the ones that slowly died of infection, I just couldn't do this cruel, unnecessary, torturous procedure to even one more puppy.

The 'procedure' is usually done between 3 to 5 days old. I knew it appeared to have set them back quite a bit, but I didn't realize just how much until I had a litter I didn't have the amputations done on. Even at just one week old, the puppies were making advances that amazed me. By two weeks, they were doing things that they never did before until they were 3 to 4 weeks old. They grew faster, they walked sooner (MUCH sooner), they played and interacted sooner, they barked sooner, they 'guarded' sooner, they were able to eat solid food sooner (and desired it sooner). These puppies advanced soooo much faster it was mind boggling!!!  But no would would know that if they had never had both types of litters for the comparison. I have told people this, but many don't seem to care. Many are so adamant about wanting a dog to look a certain way that they don't care what it does to the health and longevity of the dog. But those aren't the types of people I want to own one of my dogs anyway.

Many countries have wised up and banned this mutilating procedure from being done on dogs. But the US has yet to see past the vanity to the suffering of the dogs and ban it here. Many people here are totally unaware as to what a horrible procedure this is to put a puppy through, and the lasting affects it can have on a grown dog. They have been 'conditioned' by society to believe that it is harmless and painless. I hope and pray that those people can soon be educated and properly informed, as many of them would change their opinions and help to stop this practice. But then there are those that are so vain, that they don't give a d$%# about what the puppy/dog has to go through so long as they get to own a dog that 'looks cool.' And I would never want to sell one of my puppies to one of those people anyway.

I put my all into my puppies. I begin by making sure my parent dogs have the best possible diet and are in the best of health before they breed. This continues all throughout the pregnancy, to ensure the best of health of the puppies and the mother dog. After the puppies are born, I supplement with colostrum and quality puppy formula, as needed (like when there are too many for her to make quite enough milk), while increasing the momma's milk production, food and nutrition needs. I pride myself in having the strongest, healthiest, smartest, best quality puppies a person could possibly raise. So it greatly saddens (and angers) me when someone is all excited about finally finding the Boxer puppy they were looking for, then refuses it simply because it still has its tail. One man became absolutely irate and obviously furious when he learned that they still had their tails. His attitude let me know that he WAS NOT  someone that I wanted owning one of my dogs.

I take great pains with my puppies to ensure that they are the healthiest possible, and that includes leaving their tails on. If people want one of my beautiful, high quality puppies, they will have to have them with their beautiful, adorable, graceful tails on. (One woman that was initially disappointed that they had their tails, changed her mind when she saw it. She said, "It is so cute! How could anyone ever cut that off!) Their tails are adorable, and they do serve many purposes. They are very useful in chasing flies and other insects away (insects which can cause a dog a variety of ills). A dog also communicates with you through their tail. When they are happy and healthy, their tail curls ever so slightly over their back and gracefully sways back and forth. But when they are sad or hurt, it hangs down and/or tucks under, depending upon what is wrong. This is a VERY USEFUL trait for the owner, as it is often times the FIRST sign that something is wrong with your dog. And we all know, the sooner a dog can be treated, the faster and more successfully it can be healed. When they sense danger, it straightens out, which is also very useful for us to know.
If, in the future, it becomes impossible to sell my Boxer puppies because I have chosen NOT to torture them by putting them through such a needless, painful, quality reducing procedure, I will have to quit raising Boxers, because it just ain't right.

Oh, yes, these puppies bonded to people faster and stronger than any others, becoming more loyal and eager to please than I have seen yet. And I would hope, that is the ultimate a person wants in a dog.

3 comments:

  1. I really admire you for doing what you feel is best for your puppies! I wouldn't second guess that decision and I wouldn't regret it. People who come to you, will support that choice too because they will want a companion and family member that is healthy and had someone like you to advocate for them, and gave them a good start at their life!!

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  2. I agree with Kim. In fact, while I was waiting in the vet's office for one of Kris's puppy checks, a man with a boxer puppy came in and asked how much it would take to have it's tail docked. He was told they didn't do that anymore. Maybe that sick fad is on the way out!

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  3. Thank you all so much for your wonderful support! I know that when I get a new dog, I want him/her to be with me as long as possible, and the best way to do that is for him/her to have gotten the best start possible. When he/she gets old, I will be worrying more about how much more time I get to have with him/her, not whether or not he/she has a tail.
    Leigh, that's good to know! I read just yesterday that there is an occasional vet that will now refuse to do it to them. Hopefully, that will take hold and be unheard of in a few more years.

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