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What If I Do Want to Find A Good Breeder?

It’s evident that I am a rescue oriented person, and so is this blog. However, I will admit that my bucket list includes purchasing a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy from a breeder. At some point. Way down the road. Still, I want to, and I never want individuals to come read this blog and wonder why it seems like rescue people will not talk about purchasing a dog, ever.

So, you want to buy a puppy, but you want to do it right. That’s cool. Support good breeders all the way! Without good breeders, the Cavalier breed would die out.

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Adorable Cavalier puppies in all four colors.

First, a question. Is the puppy a gift? If so, remember, pets should NEVER be given as gifts, and decent breeders will not sell a dog for someone to give as a gift.

USDA approved puppy mill
USDA approved puppy mill

How do you find a puppy without supporting a puppy mill?

Sometimes that’s harder than it seems. Aside from avoiding those pet store pups and any that can be purchased over the internet, how do you know? Not all puppy mills look like this one.

Some mills are smaller, harder to see, but are still putting profit above the welfare of their animals. On top of that, finding a good breeder with a litter of puppies can take more than a year.

Not all breeders are great. Even some of those listed on sites like the AKC breeder recommendation list don’t fall into the category of a “good breeder.” The AKC doesn’t have the capacity to inspect every breeder they certify and have acknowledged such.

Puppy mill in a house
Puppy Mill run out of a house

 

Some breeders might look good from the outside but be running small puppy mill operations out of their home or another location.

 

Some breeders may not have that many dogs, but if they don’t care for the health of their females, and breed them repeatedly for several litters, the breeder still fits in the category of using the animal for profit.

Some breeders think they are doing everything right but don’t health test. These breeders aren’t contributing to the future health of the breed, which is currently tenuous, and therefore do not care about the welfare of the dogs. Find out more about health testing at Cavalier Health.

Some breeders don’t want you to visit, or don’t want you to see any of their other dogs aside from the mother. This is a big red flag. It may well look like the house above if they are unwilling to show you where the dogs live.

Some breeders don’t want you to offer you any guidance after you purchase the dog. This is not necessarily a sign of a puppy mill but just a sign of a breeder worth avoiding.

Ok, all these no’s probably aren’t helping you figure out how to tell what a GOOD breeder looks like and how to find one. 

A breeder you found online is neither a good or a bad one although their website may or may not give you some information about them.

The first sign that you have found a good breeder is if you feel a little interrogated, politely of course. Questions you should be asked include:

  • Why do you want a dog and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in particular?
  • Who in your family will be responsible for the pup’s daily care and training?
  • Where the dog will spend most of his or her time?
  • How often will the dog be left alone?
  • Can you provide both veterinarian and personal references?
  • Will you sign a contract to spay/neuter the dog?
  • Are you willing to sign a contract agreeing to return the dog should anything change in your situation?

A breeder is going to want to know all these answers in depth. They are also going to want to hear you ask questions. Some things you need to ask are,

  • How old are the mother, father, and their parents? The mother and father should be 2 or older and the parents preferably 5+.
  • Do you health test? Will you provide me with the results of these parents/grandparents? (You are looking for MVD and SM in particular.)
  • Can I come visit?
  • When is your next litter of puppies planned?
  • Do you have a waiting list?
  • Can you provide me with references?
  • Do you breed any other dogs? Breeders with multiple kinds of dogs are not likely to be good breeders.
  • Are you willing to answer my questions after a puppy comes home with me?
  • Do you have a contract?
One website you can start with for a list of breeders, as well as more information on purchasing a puppy, is spanielking.

 

Good luck!

Who Rescues Cavaliers with Special Needs?

On Tuesday I wrote about the importance of last week’s focus on Puppy Awareness Week in the UK and this coming Saturday’s Puppy Mill Awareness Day. If you’d like to read that post, you can here.

My way of bringing awareness is through my writing and my blog. So, today I would like to highlight a couple who built their lives around rescuing older and special needs Cavaliers. I am overwhelmed by their story, not many people can take on the workload and the heartache that they do daily.

Peabody and Jason Johanson didn’t initially start out with the intention of rescuing special needs and elderly dogs, but, as Peabody said, “We just bought a one level house (for the older dogs) with 1/3 of an acre all because of the dogs. We concluded that this is how we were spending the rest of our lives, adopting senior and special needs Spaniels.”

Many people that get into rescue adjust or renovate their homes to fit the dogs’ needs, but it’s not often one gets a chance to purchase a home that happens to fit exactly what is required for their rescues.

Skoshi

It all started with Peabody’s first dog, Skoshi, a Cocker Spaniel rescue. Peabody said, “Her last year with us she developed an allergy to the yeast on her own skin and got MRSP (like MRSA but for dogs) several times because of it. We had to give her daily baths and wrap her in bandages three times a day.

My husband and I both realized that we had the patience to deal with dogs with special needs. When she got cancer, we traded sleeping on the floor with her for months.
We knew she was nearing the end and we started talking about what kind of dog we would want next since we knew we would want a dog right away.”

Peabody and Jason were active fundraisers for Old Dog Haven, an organization that has over 300 senior dogs in their care,

“They are all in final refuge foster homes and pay all medical bills. They find the un-adoptable seniors in the shelters and give them loving homes no matter if that is a year, a month, a week, or a day.”

The couple decided that they would rescue a younger Cavalier from Cavalier Rescue USA and then get an Old Dog Haven foster. But, life had other plans in store for them.

First came Mickey.

Mickey

“The day after our cocker died, Mickey popped up on the website. I just looked at him and knew he was my dog. He was 8 and deaf with two spinal conditions (SM/CM and altano-axil malformation where his C1 overrides his C2) as well as behavior issues. He was fostered by a mutual friend, and we set up to meet him right away.

We were smitten the first time we met and had another meetup and decided to adopt him. We were told he was not a typical Cavalier in that he did not love everyone. His owner, a single female, had passed and his spinal condition was never diagnosed until rescue, so he was in pain his whole life. While he is not the typical Cavalier he does love me, his mama, something fierce and is very much the typical Cavalier to me. Mickey is now 10 1/2 and has MVD as well and is in stage B1 with a grade 2 murmur. ”

Mickey was not comfortable around men, and Jason felt that lack of connection, so the couple contacted Cavalier Rescue USA again.

Then came Holly.

“Four months after getting Mickey, Holly came into our life. She was just turning 8 and was a breeder release, and sadly was in Congestive Heart Failure. They warned us that it would be hard to watch her decline, but we chose to take her anyway. We only had a year with Holly, but she brought such joy to our life. Because of Holly my husband and I decided to focus on taking in Cavaliers with heart issues and Syringomyelia which both she and Mickey suffer from. Holly passed just a month after her 9th birthday of complications from pneumonia due to her heart being too large.”

Next, Daisy.

Daisy

“She came from a woman who bought her from a breeder (breeder release) but couldn’t keep her as she did not have a fenced yard and Daisy was a runner. We didn’t expect to take her as she was only six with no real health issues but we fell in love with her right away. Daisy loves any and all people that she meets, in true Cavalier form. Daisy just turned 8 and knock on wood continues to be healthy.”

And the sweet Crissy.

Crissy

“Crissy was also from Cavalier Rescue USA. She was 10 with MVD. Her owner was going into hospice. She is a total love and the perfect mix of sweet and sass. She is now 11 1/2 and has sadly progressed to a B2 stage with a 4/5 murmur and has started medication. We focus on enjoying each day with her that we have left.”

An English Toy Spaniel Rescue, Georgia.

Georgia

“Georgia came to us from a place called Panda Paws Rescue they are out of southern Washington state. They specialize in special needs breeds of all types. A friend who followed them had tagged me in a post about a couple of English Toy Spaniels they had. One of them had Syringomyelia, and they were looking for someone familiar with the condition. I talked to a friend that also had English Toys’s, and we decided to go for it. Georgia was a breeder release (once they knew she had SM they decided to let her go) and was very well socialized; she fit in immediately.”

And the most recent addition, Tulip.

“This last March the same rescue, Panda Paws raised money and went to a puppy mill auction in Missouri to rescue as many as they could. They had a few English Toy’s, and so I just said that if no one showed interested in the extremely shy ET that we would take her. Tulip had no inquiries and so after she had a month in foster care, where she was spayed, had a dental check, and had stenotic nares surgery, she came to us.
She was beyond shy when we got her. Typical puppy mill dog where she was fine with the other dogs but petrified of the humans.

Tulip

We have had her five months now, and she is making a lot of progress. She will sit on your lap and likes pets but will still run from you when go to pick her up. She does come to us but then runs away, but each day she gets a little more brave. Tulip is our youngest at age 2, and so we hope we have lots of time with her to watch her flourish into a trusting dog.”

Peabody couldn’t be happier with her pack of special needs dogs, and neither could Jason. “Both my husband and I are bleeding hearts, and so we just seem to keep collecting spaniels.”

But that’s ok, Peabody, because we need people like you!

 

 

Oh, Charlie

Last week I introduced everyone to Charlie, our newly adopted (surprise) puppy. Charlie comes from the same rescue as Callie and likely the same puppy mill. It’s not just my guess that they might; the women in charge were pretty certain, the other male, a five-year-old stud, had the same look as Charlie and Callie, as well as another dog rescued three years ago by a woman I met recently on FB. Here’s last week’s post if you need to catch up.

 

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Twinsies

 

It’s interesting because this mill breeds for certain positive breed aspects, like the slightly longer nose which helps to avoid bronchial issues and a size that fits close to the breed standard. No, they are not good breeders. It is a farm. I just found that piece of the puzzle curious.

Charlie rode the puppy roller coaster. He was sent out to a broker to be sold to a pet store, but the pet stores didn’t want him, and he was sent back. Lucky Charlie, just before the next auction, the rescue took a trip out to Ohio and brought him back.

Charlie is a puppy mill mascot. Unlike Callie who managed to make it out at six years old and in perfect health, he came to us with some things we knew about and some we didn’t.

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Puppy Snuggles 😍

Before they headed out, all the dogs visited the vet in Ohio where they noted that Charlie has “grade 1” luxating patellas and an umbilical hernia.

Luxating patellas are when a dog has a very flat patella ridge. This means the kneecap doesn’t seat snugly in the groove and it can pop out either medially, to the inside, or laterally, to the outside.
There are four levels of severity of a luxating patella. Grade 1 is the mildest; Grade 4 is the most severe.
• A Grade 1 luxating patella describes a kneecap that pops out (or can be manually popped out of place) but pops right back in on its own.
• Grade 2 describes a kneecap that pops out of place and doesn’t always pop back in automatically, sometimes requiring manual manipulation to re-seat it.
• A Grade 3 condition is when the kneecap sits outside its groove most of the time but can be manually positioned back in the groove, where it stays temporarily.
• Grade 4 luxating patella describes the worst-case scenario, in which the kneecap sits outside the groove all the time, and won’t stay seated in the groove when it is manually popped into place.

The morning after the caravan arrived back in VT, we got a call about the availability of an 11-week old puppy or a five-year-old male stud – to be neutered, but if we wanted one, especially the puppy, we had to come that day. Sherry did tell us about his knees before we made the trip. We quickly discussed the pros and cons and made the call to go “meet” (i.e. get, lol) the puppy.

Charlie came home without having visited the groomers yet and with diarrhea and a little cough. First, if you haven’t ever smelled a puppy mill or a dog from one, it is horrendous. Little Charlie was so sweet and snuggly, but he reeked! The first chance we got on the trip home we stopped for doggie bath wipes to get as much of the green and brown stains and nasty smell off him.

I made an appointment with our vet, however, due to one vet being on vacation, we had to wait a few days for a time. Charlie’s cough went away within a day or so, he just needed to be consistently warm. His diarrhea didn’t though. I was fairly sure he had some parasite that wasn’t treated by regular de-worming, but it wasn’t until I saw some blood in his stool that I called the vet and made an emergency appointment.

Charlie had giardia, coccidia, and whipworms, poor baby. That was a lot of medication! Even Callie had to be treated again. The vet also confirmed his luxating patellas although she said she doesn’t grade them when the puppy is this young and also informed us that Charlie has a minor heart murmur.

Because he is so young, we are lucky, and there are some things we can do to counteract his physical issues. Regarding the murmur, the two most important are diet and exercise – keeping him at the correct weight when he is grown, and daily exercise may keep his heart working a bit better. Regarding the kneecaps, again exercise and weight, but certain exercises are particularly beneficial.

As our vet recommended, we do a lot of hill climbs, up and down, both straight and in zig zags, and anything else we can think of that will strengthen his quads as those are the muscles that will be the most beneficial. Also helps tire the rambunctious puppy out! It’s been excellent for Callie too.

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Out for a walk with the girl!

Hey – got any good game or exercise ideas that are low-impact on the knees but work the quads on our pup?

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Tug seems to be a good one, too.

Don’t worry all – Charlie is doing GREAT! These are just things we have to keep in mind as he grows. And these are some issues that puppy mills cause. FIGHT TO END PUPPY FARMING!

Twitter Becomes Tangible

If you read my previous post 6 Months In and Twitter Rocks, you know about the #cavpack and the two members who brought everyone together to help create memorials for a fellow dog mom.

For those who haven’t – a short recap of the relevant parts. There is a large contingent of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owners on Twitter who now go by the “#cavpack.” This group of people – and “dogs” – is fantastic, extremely interactive, and has the feel of a group of close friends.

The two members of the #cavpack who started the memorial project for Harry go by @Holly46671665 and @BellaMCavalier. When Harry, a very special Cavalier, passed earlier this year, his mom was having a particularly hard time, and so Holly and Bella decided to collect donations for a memorial paw print, to sponsor a kennel for a year in his name, and to donate to a rescue. They also began collecting photographs of the #cavpack for a book.

Harry’s mom received everything a few weeks ago and was overwhelmed by all the love. I am sure it is still hard for her to come on to Twitter but, since receiving everything, she has been on a little bit more, able to talk to her friends and see their dogs in action on occasion.

The #cavpack also all got their chance to order a copy of the photo book, too. Callie’s arrived yesterday.

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First piece of mail and it’s international!
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“Mom, are there treats in that?”
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No treats, just the coolest book EVER!
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Dedicated to the sweetest handsome boy, Harry.
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It’s my pals! Ellie-Mae, Bailey, Lady, and Holly 😍
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Hey, that’s me!
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My friend Bella is on the same page💖. And there’s Mr. C!

Here’s the thing, I knew I would love and appreciate the #cavpack book, but I had no idea how much. As I sat on the sofa turning the pages and explaining to my wife about each dog, their personalities, my connection to them and their owner, I realized that this book meant the world to me too. And I really mean the world. Many of the Cavaliers are in the UK, at least one lives in Germany, some throughout Asia and plenty are spread across the US.

When I look through the book, I feel tangibly connected to these online friends whom I otherwise do not know. I couldn’t stop smiling after we finished the first time. I was transported to a place where we were all together. It was as though my Twitter pack came alive in my hands for a moment and for that, I am beyond grateful.

 

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Callie, me, and our magic traveling book ❤️ ❤️ ❤️  (Please excuse my lounge look!)

 

This is also the same group of people who responded with 30+ answers for me in under 10 minutes when I asked an important question about Callie. And they helped me figure out the solution.

I know, Holly, that you initially collected the photos for Harry’s mom, but you need to know just how much your work means to me and, quite likely, the rest of the #cavpack.

And just for good measure, a #TongueOutTuesday for Harry. Always remembered.

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#TongueOutTuesday demand Mandatory Health Testing and rid Bad Breeders!!! #RememberingHarry🌈  ❤️’ing the #cavpack

6-Months In and Twitter Rocks

I was going to come on here and apologize for how lazy I’ve been. I haven’t posted recently and last week, April 20th to be exact, was Callie’s 6th month “gotcha-versary.” Kind of a big deal in a rescue dogs’ first year, especially a puppy mill survivor, but it was overshadowed by some other big things. I was going to come on here and post all about her and how much she has grown. So I guess I should still apologize. SORRY!

Her day came right before we put an offer in on a new house. So, man, were (are) we busy and stressed! And three days later, her human sister turned 8! There was another big event.

Then, I was absorbed by the actions of some of my Twitter friends called the #cavpack (Spanielking’s list is not exhaustive, he can’t keep up with the growing number of members, though he does a wonderful job!) The #cavpack was called upon to donate both photos and money to help memorialize a beloved Cavalier who has recently passed.

Harry’s owner is having a very difficult time without him, and two members who knew her and Harry well began organizing the whole tribute. It’s wonderful. He has a pawprint stone, a #cavpack photo album, a kennel supported in his name and more. Participating in memorializing Harry felt, in many ways, as though we weren’t across oceans from each other but perhaps in the same room, with our Cavs, swapping stories as we worked. Of course, WE didn’t work – two members of the #cavpack did, but still, the image stands.

That’s not the only time the #cavpack has come together to support one another. There is so much love among these dog owners. Often these friends are sending each other gifts for dog birthdays or human ones, discussing matters related to the health of our dogs with each other, and laughing together at the antics of our silly Cavaliers.

My friends – while perhaps distracting on occasion – really are there for each other,for me. Watching the internet become real is beautiful. If something happened to Callie, I know these other Cavalier owners would be doing everything they could virtually and in real life to help. That feels nice.

SHOUT OUT: #cavpack I LOVE YOU!

By the way, we did celebrate her 6 months a bit – she got a duck neck and a few new toys to ignore, and if you can tune out my voice, here’s a video of her with the tasty treat: