Page 318 - ShowSight - November 2019
P. 318

                        Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Q & A
Malinda M. Pope continued
Lamont (Moorfields Cavaliers—Northern Ireland). I bred my first litter in 2004.
My educational background was in Biology and Community/ Family Public Health. I worked as a classroom high school teacher, Director of Science Education at an Alternative Education Center for court-ordered “at-risk” students, and as a Hospital-Homebound instructor. I have been a Past President and Judge for the Ameri- can Cockatiel Society, Past President of the Mid-Florida Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, and contributing writer for the Royal Dispatch (American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club magazine) and Bird Talk magazine.
My husband and I live in Venice, Florida. We participate in church activities, play “pickle ball” most mornings, enjoy beach time and our grandchildren. We are also avid Auburn University football fans, take periodic trips camping in the Smoky Mountains and spending time at Lake Martin (Alabama). Since retirement, I have made several trips to Uganda and Haiti where I learned to cultivate a tropical tree, the moringa, that is used in developing countries as a food supplement.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? As with most things, you will find the good and the bad. Cavaliers make exceptional companions for young and old, alike. They adapt to most situa- tions, have a happy attitude and just want to “be with their people”. Cavaliers do, however, shed a moderate amount and require regu- lar grooming sessions. These dogs will not adapt well to being left alone for hours each day. I do not place puppies in homes where everyone goes to work/school hours every day unless there is a care- taker in the home or arrangements are made for daily socialization.
However, with the growing popularity of Cavaliers, the breed- ing of these beautiful, sweet dogs can be viewed as “easy money” for some people. Locating a responsible breeder that does the needed health testing, pre-breeding health checks, breeding procedures and appropriate pedigree (phenotype and genotype) research can some- times be difficult. Do not rely on nice ads or low prices when select- ing a breeder. Most puppy buyers will have to first find a breeder they have a rapport with and get on a waiting list.
Because there is a real sense of “protectiveness” among respon- sible breeders, it is not uncommon to co-own initial breeding stock with your breeder. This is for the protection of the breed, the indi- vidual puppy, the reputation of the breeder’s kennel name, and to make sure the new owner is mentored appropriately. In my opinion, it is a real “red flag” if a Cavalier breeder offers a puppy to a pet home with no breeding restrictions or without a contract outlining future plans.
I have tried to breed healthy, well-adjusted and socialized pup- pies, be responsive to all puppy inquiries and help new owners for as long as assistance is needed. Most of my puppy requests come from previous puppy buyers or from referrals. I generally have a waiting list prior to the whelping of a litter so don’t have problems placing puppies in wonderful new homes.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? In the early stages (prior to eight to ten weeks of age), I look for more “eliminating” factors for a show prospect than positive attri- butes. For example, since markings are of importance on a parti- colored Cavalier, a puppy with no white blaze between the eyes or a poorly marked boy is put on my “wait-and-see” list. This is not to say that these babies will be totally eliminated from consider- ation, but they will have to end up with outstanding structure and movement to overcome the lack of nice markings. With my litters, I watch and handle the puppies every day. How do they react to stimuli as part of the litter and when alone? Do they have that “look at me” attitude? At eight weeks of age, I use various tools to get a big picture—puppy evaluations, taking individual puppies to dif- ferent surfaces to evaluate body structure and movement, etc. By ten weeks of age, I usually have a good idea of which puppies (if any) will be kept back as a show prospect.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? While I feel that most judges are fair and knowledgeable in their selections, I appreciate a judge that selects a well-made, structurally sound, correct moving Cavalier. Moderate—not overdone in head, coat or size with tail moving in a happy manner. It does no good for judges to select the dog or handler based on current popular thought. To do so encourages new breeders to forget about the written standard and base their programs on the winners in the ring.
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? I love the excitement of the show ring and especially appreciate the “bred-by- exhibitor” classes and “owner-handled” competitions. For me, dog shows provide the opportunity for others to see my dogs and for me to see dogs that I feel come close to our visual and written standards for Cavaliers. All the research, planning, whelping, WORK that goes into producing a nice dog or bitch becomes worthwhile when others appreciate what you have produced—when your five month old baby goes Best-in-Show at an all-breed Puppy Competition or when you finally get a Group 1 in a Bred-by-Exhibitor show. For me, those times are the best.
My favorite dog show memory? One of the most thrilling experi- ences in showing my own dogs did not come with a ribbon attached. A few years ago, I was showing a Blenheim bitch at an out-of-state show. The (well-known and respected) judge came up to me while my girl was on the table and asked if I was the breeder of this cava- lier. I said that I was—not sure if this was going to be a good thing or a bad thing and he said “just keep breeding”! I felt as if I had won Best-in-Show. That’s what I am—a breeder!
I live in North Sioux City, South Dakota. My passions out- side of dogs? I have spent the past 40 plus years of my life as a restor- ative dentist. Due to some ergo- nomic problems which have caused physical limitations, I spend most of my energies on my puppies, planning future litters and seeing to their health and well-being.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? The popularity of the breed is entirely understandable. They are such a loving breed that they are truly irresistible. Is the popularity good? I think as with anything, it is a mixed bag. There are good things and bad things about being popular. I have not found it difficult to find good breeding stock, but then I tend to associate with other breed- ers who are as concerned about health as I am. Placing puppies can get challenging, especially if ‘backyard’ breeders are undercutting
prices and claiming to do ‘the same health testing’ that I do.
Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? Yes, I think the Cavalier is a perfect household companion. However, I recently made a move because I felt they needed more space in which to run. They are athletic and they truly enjoy running full speed in our
new grassy fields.
What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in
the show ring? Not every Cavalier is suited for the show ring. Some much prefer the sofa! As with any breed, personalities vary. Show- ing a Cavalier requires the breeder or owner to select not only great conformation and beauty, but also the personality that will endure the stresses of showing.At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? We can see structure and gait around four to six months of age. We make our final cuts around this timing.
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? It is fun when the owners remember that this is a sport. It is supposed to be
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