Alastair Robertson: A shocking solution to controlling dogs

Alastair Robertson. Picture: Donald Macleod

Alastair Robertson. Picture: Donald Macleod

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I or rather the dogs, Crumpet and Waffle, were asked to go and help pick up on a friend’s farm shoot; a sort of loose syndicate of friends and acquaintances who contribute towards running costs and get about half a dozen days’ shooting a year.

I or rather the dogs, Crumpet and Waffle, were asked to go and help pick up on a friend’s farm shoot; a sort of loose syndicate of friends and acquaintances who contribute towards running costs and get about half a dozen days’ shooting a year.

It’s a good mixture of walking and standing for the guns, and it has the added excitement that one of Crumpet’s puppies, Waffle’s brother, belongs to one of the shoot members. They all snarl at one another in a most unfriendly way and refuse to sit still for family photos.

So, as is the way with shoots, we all clattered about outside the house, hauling bits of clothing and boots and leads and guns and all the rest of the paraphernalia from the backs of cars when suddenly, the huge, brown, curly haired poodle-like thing which one of the guns insists on bringing, shot off into the rhododendrons amid the loud cackle of startled pheasants; exactly the sort of thing you spend all your life praying your own dog won’t do.

This dog, however, does it regularly and drags its owner about all day on the end of a lead. It is, apparently, a gundog by breeding, but shows none of the natural instinct associated with gundogs, though it has a great propensity for eating any bird it manages to find. Having said that, it is a very amiable hound.

It has been kindly suggested that if he wants to bring it out, he might consider equipping it with an electric shock collar. This is a pretty horrid bit of kit which the Scottish Government is thinking of banning, and for once no one is particularly bothered, although I would not have much hesitation putting one on this beast. Essentially, every time the dog fails to respond to the whistle or verbal command, the owner zaps it with the remote.

Some people swear by them and I have seen Italians use them on pointers to keep them in check and it seems to work. But I can’t say you see many of these things, at least not on working dogs in the field. I suppose there may be a case for occasional use on some dogs in particular instances. But it still doesn’t sound very nice, even at low voltage levels.

Alternatively, I can see they could be useful for the control of small children in supermarkets. However our old friend Mr Lochhead, minister for dogs and bogs (aka rural affairs), has gone out to consultation on this one.

Let us hope he does not take as long to make up his mind as his government has done on tail docking. It’s now at least a year since its own reports confirmed undocked working dogs suffer serious tail damage.

But the ban stays for the usual populist reasons.

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