Although this research is about UK breeders, the same problem exists in the US. Between poor breeding practices by “good” breeders and puppy mills, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are going to be, if they aren’t already, a dying breed.
Losing our Cavaliers would be devastating, but it would also be stupid when there are ways to mitigate the potential health issues. This research makes me so sad.
Crufts, the dog world’s annual extravaganza, took place in March. On the Friday of the show health campaigners Margaret Carter and Charlotte Mackaness, along with television vet and author Emma Milne, presented the comments from the then 30,000 signature-strong Cavalier health petition to the Kennel Club asking for compulsory testing for Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) and Syringomyelia (SM). The KC repeated its refusal to make testing mandatory.
The Cavaliers Are Special team handing the petition to the KC’s Bill Lambert at Crufts
Under the bright lights a few hours later the Cavalier best of breed was crowned. For the dog’s owners it was a time of great celebration. For health campaigners, it was a sober reminder of just how badly enforcement of breeding guidelines and is needed.
The winning dog turned 2.5 years old just before Crufts. To help reduce the incidence and age of onset of heart disease, cardiologists…
Before we adopted Callie, we had another puppy named Tucker.
I’m about to admit a lot of stuff that I am not proud of, but I think this is a post that is important to share. We talk about getting the right dog, we talk about the dogs that end up in rescues, we write about the dogs we have and the ones we have rescued. But it is difficult for a dog owner, one that cares so deeply about animals, one that rescued her own puppy mill mama and is working hard to introduce her to everything, to retrain her, to admit that they once out-dogged themselves. But it happens. And in our instance, we got lucky.
I should back up to the beginning.
We decided to get a dog, and I had lived with several different bully breeds/mixes and loved them dearly. I previously had a lab too. I was watching Petfinder all the time, but I also did something stupid, I went on Craiglist pets and found an adorable “pit/lab” mix who was 12 wks old. The owners were getting rid of him because he was already too much for them.
It was instant love, and off we went to meet him/get him.
He’s pretty darn adorable, right?
Life with Tucker started out fantastic. He was fun, sweet, easy to train. He loved to play in the most entertaining ways. He stole the bottom of the cat tower…
As Tuck grew, he began to get wild. Puppy wild of course, but intensely so. I became friends with a woman named Erin who has a southern rescue boxer mix named Eos, a tiny chihuahua, and a huge field with a river running alongside it.
We met about 3 days a week and walked in that area where Tucker could run off leash and swim in the warmer months. Even after an hour or so of that, he was still wound up.
There were several factors my wife and I didn’t consider when we chose a dog. I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, she works full-time and is more of a cat person than a dog one, although she loves dogs. My fibro began to get worse as the added stress of having Tucker grew, and I kept trying to convince myself that everything was all right. Nobody was really happy. The cats hated him, Tuck wasn’t happy, we were stressed, it was hard.
We began to notice something else, too. When we got Tuck, he had these adorable speckles on his nose. One day my wife looked down at him and said to me, “Where did his speckles go? His nose is just black!”
I took one long look at his face and said, “No, his speckles have just moved back as he has grown.” Along with his snout. He still had a bully head, but not a lab face, and I realized he had to be part Border Collie. That explained the obnoxious herding behavior. It also helped explain the strong reactivity combined with this anxious need to not react badly. Particularly in a dog that was probably an accidental mix.
Erin – the owner of Eos – and I became very close friends, and she began to fall in love with Tucker. Her whole family did, really.
Jess and I struggled with the reality of life with Tucker, but also what it might do to our daughter if we couldn’t keep him. We also agreed that we were committed to Tucker, no matter what he would never end up in a rescue.
Slowly, over the course of a month or so, Erin and her husband, along with Jess and I began to seriously talk about giving Tucker to them. It started as a joke one day. Erin loves animals and always talks about wanting to run a sanctuary, or perhaps doggie daycare. We joked that Tuck should stay with them half the week and with us the other. Not really that funny, but it was our reality at the time.
Finally, we all agreed that it really would be best if Tucker went to live with them. He would be 5 minutes away from us, we would see him all the time, and he would get to run in the field with another big dog several times a day.
It hurt to admit that I couldn’t do it. That I had out-dogged myself. I failed.
Tucker, however, ended up where he needed to be. His dad is his favorite person on earth, his best friend, he still has two kids to play with, and when I come over, and someone says, “Mommy,” if I’m sitting down, he will still climb in my lap. Tuck loves all three mommies. Like any good bully breed – he has a neverending supply of heart.
He’s a much happier dog now.
We would have kept trying, but it would not have been great for anyone. As much as it hurts to admit, I out-dogged myself, and the best thing I ever did for Tucker was give him away.
It took our family almost a year to be ready to even talk about another dog.
So, one very long post later, I have admitted some things I am definitely not proud of, but are part of a discussion that needs to happen. Even those of us who know a lot about dogs, who have a lot of experience and think they know what they are doing, can get way in over their heads. At least I did.
A reblog with great info about what Xylitol does to dogs and how certain brands of peanut butter are switching to using Xylitol instead of other sweeteners. Here’s my experience with the nasty product:
A few years ago, a friend offered to help us out and make the cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday celebration at preschool. My ex-husband had ended up with our Labrador in the divorce, a wonderful, sweet, and incredibly well-trained dog.
Well, my ex had the cupcakes, neither of us knew that the friend of ours had made the cupcakes with Xylitol (because WHAT?! they are for preschoolers!) and Cyrus, the lab, did something he hadn’t done since he was a puppy. He jumped on the counter, got the cupcakes and ate the whole pan.
When Cyrus started acting funny, my ex rushed him to the vet. He spent two weeks in dog ICU, with constant fluids, and had a prognosis of “no way is he going to make it, but sure, we will try.”He survived. Even our vet has never seen anything like it; she was certain he was gone. I don’t know how he made it, but most dogs don’t so be aware of Xylitol always!
It is the little things that impress-frustrate-embolden me when I am with Callie. Just now I spent 15 minutes convincing her that a. the stool I brought in from the kitchen was not evil, and b. that she could possibly climb on it to get up on the couch.
“Why?” You might wonder.
Two reasons again – 1. because she can’t seem to jump up on the couch and is scared of being picked up, yet she wants to be up here all the time, and 2. because she has a lot of trouble transferring skills.
She didn’t get up on the couch, but she got her front paws up on the stool and considered how she might get from there to the sofa. But, then she got overwhelmed and stepped back down. I’m proud of her. Front paws on something new in 15 minutes is pretty impressive.
It’s different than when you are working with a puppy. A rescue, especially one who has never seen the outside world, sees everything with far more trepidation than your average puppy. They’ve already lived lives.
Callie came to us from a puppy mill. She was there for the last five years and hasn’t known anything but the inside of a cage, puppies, and the experience of being shoved in another cage for mating. Did I mention she doesn’t like to be picked up? It’s mostly because it freaks her out if anybody touches her rear end. ‘Nuff said.
Watching her fear drives my desire to find solutions for Callie to experience the world in a much more positive way without too many accommodations. That was her life she lived then, I’m responsible for the life she lives from her on out.
One cat definitely doesn’t mind that Callie takes the couch!
Stories from the life of a rescued puppy mill mama and the second rescue, a puppy Charlie, who arrived seven months later. Dedicated to other stories about rescues as well, particularly those from puppy mills.