Page 310 - ShowSight - November 2019
P. 310

                Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Q & A
Susan Barrett continued
took off and did well. The bonding and love with my dog is what makes training and showing so worthwhile. Nothing is more fun or satisfying than training a dog for show and obedience, groom- ing the dog to make it beautiful and then going out and doing our best in the ring. It is a show. The dog must love it. I must love it—I enjoy going back to the hotel room if I am on the road and it’s just me and my or dogs and we cuddle in on the bed, take walks around the hotel and have people stop and greet us or chat. It is the greatest fun—just me and my beautiful and very happy dog.
Novices should keep in mind that no one can predict with cer- tainly whether a puppy will be a show dog. Besides conformation and elements of our standard (which a novice should know by heart) the dog must like to show and have the temperament for the show ring. One can have the most beautiful dog, but if it doesn’t like the ring, is timid, won’t wag, it will not be a show dog. Novices should study the standard, go to shows and watch dogs and which ones the judges like, and go to breed club seminars when possible about structure and function. Join a breed club. Start with a pet Cavalier first. Novices should find out or ask about each element of judging. What is the judge looking for on the table? It is like an interview. Looking at the eyes—should be round, not bulging, and no white showing as Cavaliers should have pigmentation of the white of the eyes. The head should not be domed but have the appearance of almost flat with ears up high on the head. Judges will examine the bite and look for the scissor bite and novices need to know what that means. Judges put their hands on the dog and can tell structure of front and rear, top line, and tail set for example. What is a judge looking for on the down and back and the go around? Novices should know that type, temperament, our standard, and structure are the mainstays of a show dog and that even then it may not do well in the ring as it is difficult to get all perfect. Finally, there is no perfect dog. Our breed has a come a long way in type, beauty and structure since 1926 when the breeders in England where chal- lenged to create the breed from the King Charles Spaniel. My goal is to keep the breed to our original standard. I feel it is getting too big and well over 18 pounds. I see 25 pound Cavaliers in the ring and rewarded. I also feel they are too heavily marked. Even though markings are not placed of much importance, they are still in the standard. The pearly white and well broken with deep, rich color is what iI think we should strive for and is what should be rewarded. We are getting too much coat and big, poofy ears. Although pretty to look at, the Cavaliers should be moderate in coat. Coat should be silky and not fuzzy. Finally, the long body and short in leg is a huge problem in the breed and a fault in my opinion. I feel judges need more training for Cavalier judging. It is getting to be where there are fewer and fewer Cavaliers to our original standard. My goal is to breed type and to the standard as well as for health.
My favorite dog show memory is winning Best in Show twice at our Cavalier breed club shows. I have been able to meet so many wonderful people from many countries by attending shows all over the country.
The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is the most wonderful dog I could ever imagine. They are pure sweetness, always playful and happy, and forever loyal and loving. The best thing i have ever done in my life is to be able to share it with Cavaliers. My greatest joy has been to birth and nurture Cavalier puppies and then see a puppy grow up to be my companion in the ring. The bonding i have with new mothers who trust me as we both care for their babies is pre- cious to me. I am the luckiest person in the world to have them in my life.
Like many exhibitors, I did not grow up showing dogs so it was not until I was an adult that I purchased my first Cavalier and embarked upon learning how to show a dog. I purchased my first
Cavalier in 1976 while I was living in England. My first choice would have been an English Pointer or Labrador but living in an apartment in Central London I did not think I could do the dog justice in terms of exercise. With all the many public parks in Lon- don I believe I was wrong in my opinion but ultimately it was for- tunate I did get a small breed when we were transferred back to the USA and then travelled back and forth to both coasts in the USA. I knew about Cavaliers and how their temperament was similar to large breed dogs but they were a more portable size—all of these attributes attracted me to the breed. I learned so much from my first two Cavaliers and my first foray into dog shows was in obedience.
I came into dogs in the era of BC—before computers! There was no Google, no mentors, telephone service was extortionately expen- sive so the only place one could learn about showing and breeding dogs was at shows and seminars. I attended every seminar I could locate and in those days there were many. Basically, breeders learned solely from each other.
I have judged Cavaliers since 1984 and attended numerous Judges’ Seminars, International Breed Conventions, the AKC Judges Institutes, the ACEF in Conformation Judging Courses, Chaired/Presented CNE’s Breeder/Judges Symposium for two years and wrote two in depth handbooks for these Symposiums. More recently, I have presented to AKC Judges on a few occasions to instruct those who judge the breed.
The instruction I have been privileged to be exposed to, in han- dling, breed type, structure/movement and obedience and agil- ity, have come from the very best individuals in their field—as an example the late, great Annie Rogers Clark.
Despite all of this education and the usefulness of the Internet, I expect to learn something new at every dog event I attend. If not, then I consider it a wasted day.
I live in Connecticut and I am solely focused on all aspects of the sport of dogs. I enjoy traveling and since I am originally from Scotland, I do tend to return to the UK annually.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? Popularity of any breed is never a good thing. With popularity comes higher prices which in turn attracts those interested purely in making money off the dogs without considering the myriad of health issues we see in Cavaliers. The AKC parent club for Cavaliers has identified four important health clearances that all breeders should perform and these are listed on OFA The recent surge in rankings for the Cavalier demonstrates the demand for the breed and there- fore placing puppies is not usually difficult. As far as finding breed- ing stock, it is vital for anyone wishing to get started in Cavaliers to attend Cavalier specialties and locate a mentor with whom they have a rapport and whose dogs they admire. They should choose a mentor who seriously considers health and temperament as primary in their breeding program. Unlike years ago when breeders kept large numbers of dogs, today many breeders choose only to keep a few dogs and tend not to keep stud dogs and thus it can be a chal- lenge to find superior quality males to breed. When a breeder has bred only the best quality of Cavalier, the bar is set so high that those breeders do have difficulty settling for anything less.
Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? Cavaliers are perfect in any situation. From lounging on velvet pillows to a romp in the fields chasing bunny rabbits. Cavaliers just want to be with their owners and are game for anything the owners want to do. They get along equally well with children as well as seniors and live well alongside other species as long as they are socialized with them from the beginning.
What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in the show ring? One must always remember that a dog whose personality is ideal for both the living room and the show ring are trained to be that way. They are not born to be show dogs. They must be trained to behave appropriately in different situations. Their inherent relaxed, snuggle-type attitude allows them to be a
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