This is an easy-to-take basic step to take in order to minimise any difficulties with your dogs if they are left at home and if you are unlucky enough to be involved in an RTA (road traffic accident) I have one of these emergency cards clipped to the sun visor in each of my two vehicles and there is another copy prominently displayed on the pin board in my kitchen.

Click here EMERGENCY NOTICE to view and download the card. It is designed to be printed on one side of an A4 sheet, folded in half and laminated, and displayed in your car. The table is an MS Word .doc so you can delete the guide text and type in your own information.

This card is also useful if you have one dog with you in the vehicle, but another (or others) left behind at home.

It takes only a short time to take this precaution and it could eliminate a lot of stress for your dogs if there is no one else at home to look after them.

EUTHANASIA  - from the ancient Greek εύ (eu) – ‘good’ and  θάνατος (thanatos) ‘death’

A good death? – this is not at all a contradiction in terms.  Do we not owe that to our cats, dogs and other animals? Personally I believe we owe it to our close relatives and friends as well, but perhaps this is not the place for that discussion.

I am not saying this is an easy decision to make in every case, or any case, but in my experience you will know that it certainly is, without doubt, the right thing to do at a certain stage in a dog’s age or infirmity. I find it far more distressing to see dogs “kept going” by their owners for their (the owners’ sakes) when they are suffering than to take the decision to euthanize a much-loved dog, upsetting though it always is, without doubt. Remember to put the welfare of the  dog first . . .  not yourself.

My advice is always to discuss this subject with your vet whilst your dog is healthy when you are less likely to become upset and more able to make reasoned choices. Ask for any relevant information to be noted in your veterinary records. If you have never witnessed the euthanizing of a dog, the thought of it may well be very distressing for you and you may imagine all sorts of awful things. In addition, these days there are many “urban myths” and horror stories put about by scaremongers online.  Do not be worried: naturally you will be upset at losing a well-loved pet, working dog or companion, but the process is very calm and peaceful and painless for the dog. Think about what you are doing for your dog, not about yourself!

Circumstances may dictate that you have the choice of having your dog “put to sleep” at home or at the vet’s surgery. The drugs most often used for this process in dogs are Pentobarbital (a short-acting barbiturate) and Sodium thiopental (a rapid-onset short-acting barbiturate general anaesthetic.) Do not be alarmed that the solution is usually brightly coloured; blue, green or pink; this is in order that it cannot be confused with the concentration of a normal sedative. The syringe of the drug will also look enormous, especially if you have a large dog. It is only the syringe that is large, not the needle . . .  the dog will not know.
Normal procedure will involve the vet clipping a little fur from one foreleg (occasionally hind leg), raising a vein (in the same way as when a blood sample is taken,) and then injecting the drug. It takes but a few second to start working. Your vet should allow you to be close to your dog at this time if you wish, as it “falls asleep” (becomes unconscious). He or she will probably have a stethoscope and, after a very short while will listen to the heart and declare that the dog has “gone”. Experienced vets know this anyway and will wait until they know the heart has stopped before even listening so as not to upset the owner by having to indicate that life is still just present. The dog will gently flop over as if falling asleep, you might wish to be supporting his or her head and gently lay it down as it becomes unconscious.

Slightly out of the normal : if, for whatever medical reason a vein has collapsed or can’t be raised, the injection may be made, after the administration of a sedative, into the heart. This sounds alarming but is no different in its effect and induces no suffering, just like the more common method. If your vet explains this is going to happen ... do not be alarmed, it is not at all unusual.

PLANNING AHEAD : If the euthanasia takes place, or is planned to take place, at home

1. Do you wish the vet to take the body away or do you have the space and desire to bury your dog in your garden. (Always check in advance about any local regulations pertaining to the burial of animals)

2. If the vet is to take the body away, do you wish to have an “individual” cremation (and receive the ashes back to keep, bury or scatter?) This is more expensive of course.

3. If you do not express a wish for an individual cremation, you dog will be cremated with others and you will get back no ashes.

4. As one of my breeds is a giant one, my vet knows that at least two people (depending on their size!) will be required for lifting. This is noted on the dog’s medical record.

5. You may wish to employ the services of a private independent pet burial/cremation/undertaking service (who will collect and deal with the body according to your wishes) – as you also might do if your dog dies a natural death at home. Research these in advance too – use the Yellow pages or search online, there is bound to be at least one company covering your area. You could also aske your vet and other local “dog people” whom you trust.
PLANNING AHEAD :  If euthanasia takes place at the veterinary surgery

1.  All the above apply to a certain extent.

2.  Arrange for you to take your dog’s body away if you are going to bury him or her at home. Ensure that you ask for help at the vet’s end and that you have somebody to assist you when you get home if you don not take a companion to the vet’s surgery. Make sure you are in a suitable vehicle and have a blanket or similar with you.

3. Ensure that the vet is amenable to an independent company collecting the body from their premises if this is what you want to happen.

4. Check with the vet that you can remain during the procedure at the surgery . . if that is what you want to happen.

Further information and explanation can be seen here; it is an informative and sensitively-written page : 


Copyright Rupert Fawcett. Posted with the permission of Rupert Fawcett
Under normal circumstances, all dogs, when not on private property, should wear a  SUITABLE COLLAR AND ID tag. This tag MUST show the owner's surname, address and contact telephone number. Do not include your dog's name. I always put my vet's phone number on the reverse, having previously given him/her my permission, in writing, for any necessary treatment to be given immediately, should the dog be brought in by a third party after theft, straying or accident.

The wearing, or not, of collars by working dogs, or indeed any dogs , is a topic guaranteed to initiate a discussion!l

Wearing of collars by dogs 2.—(1) Subject to paragraph (2) below, every dog while in a highway or in a place of public resort shall wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on the collar or on a plate or badge attached to it.
(2) Paragraph (1) above shall not apply to—
(b)any dog while being used for sporting purposes, .
(c)any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin, .
(d)any dog while being used for the driving or tending of cattle or sheep,

The wearing, or not, of collars by working dogs, or any dogs, is always a topic guaranteed to initiate a discussion! For example, what is the definition of ‘sporting purposes’?  Nénu is trained to the gun and works with live game in the winter, but like any acquired skill, practice is needed in order to maintain, or improve, the level of performance, so training goes on throughout the year. Most of this training, or reinforcement, is carried out on dummies of various kinds. So is working on dummies “sporting purposes”? I’ll let that “stick to the wall” !

There seems also to be endless talk about the legal definition of a 'public place'  and what the precise definition of the term might be!  As I have  no training in law, I will not attempt a definition, but I suggest you find out .. It is not as straightforward as might be supposed!

Let's start at the very beginning
A very good place to start  . . . . . . . .  (with thanks to Oscar Hammerstein)

None of my dogs ever wears a collar at home or in the garden . . .

Reasons not to wear a collar - In the home/garden : on dry land

1. When dogs are tearing about and playing, (although no energetic play is permitted indoors in my house!!)  there is always an extra potential danger when wearing a collar; the collar could get caught on something e.g. furniture, vegetation, a protuberance from a wall or building of some kind or garden furniture, which might result in the breaking of the collar (easily and cheaply replaced) or the dog itself might be injured (definitely NOT as easily or cheaply remedied)
2. When two or more dogs are playing there is a very serious extra potential hazard which can (and has) ended in death! if two dogs are 'play wrestling' or (as is a particularly common trait in certain breeds) 'mouth wrestling', then there is a distinct possibility that one dog will grab the other's collar. If the collar-wearer should then twist around in an attempt to escape, the collar may also become twisted (especially if it is being worn too loosely) thus trapping the 'grabber's' lower jaw in the twisted loop; simultaneously the collar has been greatly tightened and in the general panic, one to get away and the other to free its trapped lower jaw, the collar-wearer can be strangled by its own collar. I know of two cases where play has had this tragic ending, so there must be more out there! OK .. it might seem  a 'freak' accident, but one that is only too easy to envisage once it has been explained . . . more to the point, it is totally avoidable.
3. There is no need to wear a collar! As long as the perimeter of your property is dog-proofed (of which there will be no doubt if you are a responsible dog owner) the dog will not suddenly be off down the road into a "public place"
4. Vanity on the owner's behalf; I am certainly guilty of this. A collar can both 'spoil' the appearance of the dog and damage its coat. To be effective, a collar must be sufficiently tight to prevent the dog backing out of it, and sufficiently loose to cause it no harm through constriction. The usual advice given by the myriad sources that seem to think that a reasonably intelligent person needs instruction on how to put a collar on a dog is "make it tight enough to slip two fingers between the collar and the dog" . . . or sometimes it's one finger or even three . . . it all gets rather ridiculous! It will vary greatly between a fine-coated dog, such as a GSP or a dog with a thick wooly coat such as a Barbet! The Barbet's coat Is meant to be protective, thick and wooly; wearing a collar at all for any prolonged period will, at the very least, flatten the coat and, if a collar is worn even semi-permanently the coat may well become abraded.  Of course this will not harm the dog, but (in my opinion) it detracts from its  appearance. If your dog is a show dog it is essential not to damage the coat, but even if it is not, it nice to see any dog always looking its best. Call me picky . . . I don't care, that's what I feel!

Reasons not to wear a  collar - Working dogs/pet dogs swimming

The argument most often propounded is "oh, he/she might get hooked up on something!" this is the same argument as described in the home/garden scenario above and is equally valid for working dogs as for companion/pet dogs. Reports of such accidents in the field are extraordinarily rare, however there is another reason to be considered when a dog is working in water, (or indeed  a pet dog who is swimming.) Some dogs swim with a very high foreleg action; the front paws come out of the water and there is a good deal of splashing . . .
as it can lead to several kinds of trouble!! The first scenario is not actually related to collar-wearing but is important enough to mention here anyway. It is the equivalent of the "feet-first surface dive" in human terms. The paws and front legs come so high out of the water that the dog's body becomes vertical, all its weight is aligned  over its centre of gravity and it can sink like a stone. I do know of this happening, more than once,  in a giant breed not a Barbet or other gundog breed, but the principle is  equally applicable and it could be an easily-avoided disaster just waiting to happen.

 This overly-high swimming action can develop in a long-coated breed if it has a curtain of hair over its eyes  (especially a thick wooly curtain) N.B. BARBET OWNERS!!! If the hair gets wet, it becomes heavy, more compacted and can, in effect, temporarily blind the dog. If this happens, it can lead to the dog to raise its head even higher in an attempt to see where it is going under its 'fringe', probably a fruitless exercise anyway, the front legs become yet higher out of the water, in a "climbing a ladder" action, and the vertical position described above may ensue with tragic results. . . the dog could sink and drown.

The third scenario DOES involve the collar and can occur with any swimming style. If manoeuvering in the water, maybe changing direction very suddenly, in pursuit of a pricked duck for example, one of the dog's front paws could get caught in the collar, panic would set in and again. The dog could drown before the handler, or anyone else on the land, realised what had happened!

If your dog swims with a high splashing style, it is not doing it for fun, or "just having a game", or deliberately and consciously splashing as a child might do when playing in water. It is potentially dangerous and you should attempt to do something about it!!

Of course the law always prevails
, so if your dog is a pet dog (or a working dog)  swimming "for fun" in a public place, it MUST wear a collar & tag, but all owners should be especially aware of the above potential dangers, some of which are increased if the dog is wearing a collar.

CONCLUSION! Make your dog wear a SUITABLE collar, with tag, when it is necessary to comply with the law, but always be vigilant and alert to possible dangers! In my opinion, if it is not legally necessary . . . DON'T!

- use a round leather collar if possible, (less friction against the coat) but they are hard to find, so a rolled leather collar is next best and is almost as good. Flat collars, especially broad, nylon ones, will tend to damage the coat (leather is a little better as it becomes smooth and softened with use) and often look unsightly on the Barbet's thick, wooly covering! A collar, with tag, is worn to comply with the law and to provide something to which you may attach a lead when necessary for safety (unless you are using a gundog slip lead) A collar is not there so that you can haul your dog about, keep control of it or let it pull you along for a "walk"!!!!
A good collar for a Barbet - oiled, rolled leather with a strong ring to which the tag may be attached