Monday, April 15, 2013

Blog the Change: Tail Docking Dangers - Bringing Awareness on a Painful Epidemic

This month marks the 1 year Anniversary of the creation of "No Tail Left Behind", an online campaign to educate the public on the dangers of tail docking, bringing awareness about the truth of this painful, out dated, unnecessary practice. This weekend, I debuted my No Tail Left Behind blog you are reading now, and today is the great "Blog the Change for Animals" blogging event where bloggers from all over the world come together and blog about important animal advocacy issues that are important. Bringing awareness to the perils that some animals face is of most importance to us all. I felt it most apropos to share my own story and why tail docking must be banned in the U.S.

Tail docking, and the terrible trauma that comes with it for a dog whose tail gets docked, is a subject that is very important for me. It is something I must live with every single day. You see, I am one of those breeds in which tail docking is the 'standard', so every little puppy has its tail removed when they are days old. Not many people realize it is the severing of the end of our spine, as well as the chopping off of nerve endings, tendons and muscle. It is incredibly painful for each puppy that must go through it. It has been PROVEN that PUPPIES FEEL MORE ACUTE PAIN THAN FULL GROWN ADULT DOGS!! Don't let anyone fool you with the false claim that "puppies nerve endings have not yet finished forming. According to scientists in Australia, where tail docking is banned, anatomical studies demonstrate that pain in day old puppies would be actually MORE than in an adult dog due to the way impulses are sent through the puppy's unmyelinated fibers, aka nerve endings. Here is a link to the article detailing their findings: Studies Reveal Tail Docking in Puppies is Painful. As an example of how the puppies are suffering...go look up "mini schnauzer puppies" images and really look at their faces (for the ones with docked tails only a few weeks after it is done). They are MISERABLE! Do any of them look happy? Think about it.

Some dogs appear to do fine with their docked tails. I verify evidently did not. Mommy did not realize that some of my behaviors were from tail pain at first...things like running from my BM's, very delayed potty training, biting at my tail, and constantly holding my tail nub down. Every time I would get excited, those raw nerve endings would stab in my tail so badly. I couldn't even say, "I am so happy you are home" properly, because once the pain started, I'd run away from Mommy and run all through the house, biting at my tail between running away from it.

Pixel "hiding" from her tail pain
For years we went to too many vet visits. I tried different arthritis medicines, steroids, creams & ointments, and even had one young vet tell us that maybe it was "all in my head"... that maybe I had nervous 'tick' of biting my tail for no reason. It was so frustrating for both Mommy and me. At one point 3 years ago, one vet discussed surgery since part of the spine was poking at the skin. Whether the tail docking was done by a vet or the docking was done by the breeder, we can't be sure. Docking is not an exact science by any stretch, since they literally cut off the tail either by shaving it off (YES!) or by using some type of cutting instrument like scissors or a "tail snipper", so bone shards are common place at the end of a tail nub. The vet who originally mentioned surgery decided against it at that time because she said there was not much tail left to work with.

Mommy and other members of my family have spent many a day or night holding me so I would not bite at it or run from it. I have even dashed off the bed at night over and over, while trying to fall asleep with my Mommy, because I felt like my tail was attacking me. I now am on wonderful nerve pain medicine which has removed the pain about 90% of the time, but I still have bouts of severe stabbing pain. We just trudge through those episodes until I am better and my tail pain stops, and then I am a happy little girl again. My last episode inspired Mommy and I to start our "No Tail Left Behind" campaign on Facebook and Twitter (follow us @NoTailLeftBhind).

Here are some misnomers about tail docking:
1. The puppies don't feel pain when they get their tails docked within the first week of birth. FALSE According to Dr. Wasnbrough, "puppies slower conduction due to incomplete myelination, is offset by the shorter interneuronal and neuromuscular distances the pain impulse has to travel, therefore, creating greater pain due to the pup's undeveloped inhibitory pain pathways. In layman's terms, Dr. Robert explains that cutting through muscles, tendons, nerves, bones or cartilages, would result in intense pain to a level that would never be allowed to be inflicted on a human being!
2. Docking a dog's tail will help keep it cleaner so that poo does not get matted up in the fur. FALSE There are dozens of dog breeds with far more fluffier tails than breeds such as Pomeranians, German Shepherds, and many others. They don't get their tails docked to "keep them clean".
3. A working dog needs to get their tail docked so they don't injure it when out running around in the fields. It could get caught in a fence...those injuries can be nasty! FALSE Yes, dogs can get injured, they can get a tail caught in something and an injury can be bad. However, dogs can hurt a paw, or scrape the side of their body on something and get injured too. The "chance" of an injury does not equate removing an entire appendage. We don't remove their paws so they "won't get it hurt". Inflicting harm upon a dog to prevent injury does not make any logical sense.
Oh, and on the subject of "working dogs", there are MANY breeds that are working dogs, doing police work, or doing search and rescue work in dangerous earthquake rubble or in dangerous urban environments. They don't dock their tails. Have you ever seen a noble German Shepherd with a docked tail so it doesn't "injure it"? Exactly.

Incidentally, I did finally get tail surgery when my current wonderful vet felt like she could help make it better for me. She found that not only did I have nerve pain, but I also had a shard of vertebrae at the tip, and adhesions that pulled with every movement my little nub made. The image is an X-ray of my tail before surgery, and then the vertebrae she had to remove along with the shard of vertebrae. It helped me a lot, but I still have bouts of pain, and the phantom pain and some nerve pain will never go away. So I take my medicine everyday, and Mommy comforts me when she sees I have issues. We travel the road together, hand in paw. I don't know what I would have done without her really seeking to find solutions. If I had some other person as my Mommy, they might have thought I was just a "troubled youth".

I know tail docking is a touchy subject, but so is my tail pain, and the botched tail docking of so many other puppies around the country. I don’t know if I can change the way anyone thinks, I just wish to share my experiences and perhaps help others deal with the terrible results of tail docking. I have met so many people over the last year who had no idea that it was such a terrible thing. You know, it is so 'common' that it just becomes 'commonplace' to dock a tail. One wonderful thing is that several breeders have stopped docking tails after being in touch with us and our informative campaign. How glorious is that? We've been able to help a lot of families  identify what to look for, unusual signs, behaviors and symptoms that their docked tail dog is having pain and trouble. See, us pups are famous for hiding our's part of a dog's survival instinct, even though we are so well domesticated. So we look to our humans to help seek out those signs and get us the help we need. I shared information in a previous blog post I did on my Pixel Blue Eyes blog with a list of signs and symptoms that your docked tail dog is having troubles. I will post them in another blog post here this week as well.

So friends, what can you do to help? I'm glad you asked! First, please follow this blog (you can sign up to the right of this post), LIKE my Facebook page (there is a box in the right rail as well to LIKE us on FB) and you can follow us on Twitter at @NoTailLeftBhind. Share my blog posts, share my Facebook posts, re-tweet me on Twitter. Tell EVERYONE but please always be nice. Many people do not know, and you attract more bees to honey, and more change of thinking with kindness. Contact your local Congress people and Senators about it too. The more letters they receive, the more they will want to bring about change. Here is a List of Congress members by State and here is a List of Senators by State. Always be polite and give good information. And please refer them to us. I will soon be drafting a letter for everyone to use in case they need a little assistance.

My Mommy Jenny & I want to thank you friends, for taking the time to learn more about tail docking dangers and how you can help. It is a subject that needs as much conversation as possible. Please leave a comment with your thoughts on the subject. I encourage sharing of information and even altering opinions. Just please again, be kind. We are talking of the pain and suffering of animals...that should always supersede the 'rights' of a person to remove one of the most important communication tools that a dog has.
Please make sure to also visit our host for this important blogging event, Be the Change for Animals. They are an amazing group and I am honored to be associated with them. They actually did a feature on No Tail Left Behind back in October 2012. They are amazing! Make sure to visit some of these other bloggers below who have important messages as well.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Welcome to No Tail Left Behind's Blogging Debut

One year ago this week, my Mommy and I launched our "No Tail Left Behind" campaign to educate about the truth and dangers of tail docking. I am a miniature schnauzer whose tail was removed when I was just days old. There was no logical reason to do it, but it was done because that is what you do to all mini schnauzer puppies to conform to a 'breed standard'. It hurt terribly when it was done. They didn't use any anesthesia or pain relieving medicine because no one believed I could feel pain yet. It has been scientifically proven however, that puppies actually have a more heightened sense of pain than a full grown adult dog. Unfortunately, my pain never ended. When my Mommy found me at around 10 weeks old, I was exhausted from the pain, and physically sick. She and her vet nursed me back to health, but I had certain behaviors that perplexed her. I had a super hard time learning potty training, I would sometimes run and hide from her for no apparent reason, I would "go after" my tail when anything exciting happened, and I would run from my bowel movements as though someone was getting me.

Mommy ended up spending years watching pretty helplessly as I suffered from nerve pain, phantom pain and other physical ailments directly caused by my tail being docked. Mommy has told me that she was not happy that my tail was missing, but she didn't know what tail docking really entailed. Not many people do.
She started doing research, talking to different vets, taking me to see a few vets, and trying to find ways to help me through those difficult times. She started making the connection that everything was tied back to my docked tail. Mommy refused to accept the lies of why docking was important, and she really understood about the nerve pain. One vet told her that maybe it was "in my head" and I just had behavioral issues. Another vet said that surgery wouldn't help but she did put me on Neurontin after Mommy strongly insisted we try it for the nerve pain. It did help some, but I was still traumatized by my phantom tail pain and nerve pain. It was around this time that we launched "No Tail Left Behind" on Facebook to raise awareness about tail docking and the terrible effects it has on dogs.

Finally, a wonderful vet took Mommy's pleadings seriously and validated what she'd been saying for docked tail nub was causing me terrible pain, discomfort and stress. In my next blog post, I will share what was done to help alleviate some of the pain.