Shooting and fishing: Half the country seems to have run over a dog

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YOU’LL regret that, said my wife, leafing through the Scotsman magazine. Regret what? Telling the world you let Crumpet run alongside the car.

Oh I don’t know.... No, you bloody well don’t. Crashing of Aga lid. She was right of course. And as usual it hadn’t really occurred to me that what I consider to be a sensible labour saving aid to dog control turns out to be not only a lethal misjudgment, but much frowned upon in the world of dogs and particularly cocker spaniels.

I had said that because cockers are a mass of pent up energy ready to explode into the undergrowth as soon as they get out of the car, that I always gave Crumpet a run before we got to a shoot. Not on public roads you understand, but alongside the car on the drive or farm roads of wherever it was we were going that day. The trick, if that is what it is, is not to let her get ahead, because I do realise that that way disaster lies.

Still, the prospect of it all going wrong hadn’t stopped me, so I shouldn’t really have been surprised when the e-mails started coming in. Most I confess were rather more in sorrow than in anger, although there was one writer who reckoned I could be done under some welfare act for recklessly endangering the life of an animal; but I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

It is after all entirely legal to shoot your own dog, as long as you don’t cause unnecessary suffering, so I can’t see why it should be illegal to run it over. Still you wouldn’t do it on purpose.

Now the subject has been raised, I am being assailed with anecdotes about run-over dogs. Indeed half the country seems to have run over a dog at some point. Which only goes to show it is not a very good idea.

One heartbroken correspondent from Midlothian recounted how he had always considered that anyone who managed to run over their own dog was a four-letter man of the worst order; until he ran over his own cocker, Bluebell.

“I had her running up somebody’s drive when she suddenly saw a pheasant on the other side; she made a dash for it and went absolutely straight under my wheels and there was NOTHING I could do to help myself. Mercifully I killed her outright and we didn’t have the horror of a dog in great pain and us not knowing what to do – AND 20 miles from the nearest vet AND the second of January.” Point taken.

So I’m sorry Crumpet but running beside the car is out from now on. I shall just have to take the age-old advice on how to keep cockers under control – a damned good thrashing before getting going. Complaints on a postcard only please.