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HSVMA Photo Contest has Tails-a-Waggin', Winner Announced

Retriever’s Tail Takes Top Honors in HSVMA Photo Contest Celebrating Beauty and Value of Natural Dog Tails

  • Makana, First-Place Winner. Lisa Wakida.

  • Knish Longacre, Second-Place Winner. Elizabeth Longacre.

  • Knish Longacre, Second-Place Winner. Elizabeth Longacre.

  • Rolo Boyd, Third-Place Winner. Franklin Boyd.

The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association has awarded top honors in its “Tales of the Natural Tail Dog Photo Contest” to Makana, a 6-1/2 year-old Labrador Retriever mix from Kirkland, Wash., for a photo that highlights her long feathered tail in action as she runs back to shore after retrieving a stick.

Winners of the HSVMA photo contest were selected based on how well the photo and an accompanying caption illustrated the aesthetics and function of a dog’s tail. HSVMA held the contest to showcase the natural beauty and communication value of a dog’s natural, as opposed to docked, tail. The contest is part of HSVMA’s efforts to educate the public about tail docking and other cosmetic and convenience surgeries in companion animals and why these medically unnecessary procedures should not be performed on dogs and cats.

The photo contest judges included artist Ron Burns, author and radio show host Tracie Hotchner, and Dr. Gary Block, a veterinarian who serves on the HSVMA Leadership Council. The judges all acknowledged the difficulty in selecting the top three photos since there were so many wonderful photos highlighting the beauty of natural tails.

“These photos truly capture the beauty and expressiveness of a dog’s tail,” said Burns. “From joy to happiness to mischief, each photo showcased a different emotion—or the same emotion in completely different ways—underscoring how a dog’s tail can really color what they have to ‘say.’”

Hotchner agreed, saying “Dogs don’t just wag their tails to show us when they’re happy; they’re important communication tools that convey multiple emotions, and they can help us understand what they are thinking.”

According to Makana’s caregiver, Lisa Wakida, her dog’s tail is the way that Makana expresses her playful nature. “Makana was initially a very shy rescue dog,” wrote Wakida, in her caption for the photo. “She is still a reserved dog, so I love it when she exposes her inner puppy and lets her beautify fan tail fly free. Seeing her truly happy is very rewarding.”

Taking second place honors in the contest is Knish, a 4 year-old German Shepherd/Chow Chow mix, from Brooklyn, N. Y., whose caregiver, Elizabeth Longacre, said he has a tail that “arches straight over his back creating a regal appearance that mirrors his personality.” Rolo, a 4 year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi, earned the third-place spot. Unlike most Corgis, Rolo’s tail has not been docked, a fact that his caregiver, Franklin Boyd of New York, New York, emphasized in his photo caption: “Rolo’s tail is an expressive and charismatic ambassador for all dogs who usually don't come with tails.”

HSVMA received more than 180 entries for the contest representing a variety dog breeds, including those that normally have docked tails such as boxers, rottweilers and many terrier breeds.

Winners in the “Tales of the Natural Tail” photo contest received gift certificates to The Humane Society of the United States’ online store, Humane Domain, which carries a variety of pet products and gifts for pet lovers. The winning photos and a slide show of the top 15 finalists are available for viewing on the HSVMA website at hsvma.org.


The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association was formed as a home for veterinary professionals who want to join together to speak out for animals, engage in direct care programs for animals in need, and educate the public and others in the profession about animal welfare issues. The HSVMA is an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States.


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