Page 322 - ShowSight - November 2019
P. 322

                Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Q & A
“Temperament is the single most important thing inherent in these dogs.”
 Gayle Reardon continued
fun. It is fine to compete in the ring but then we should be able to leave the ring and socialize as friends. I have found that there is a certain percentage of people who are unable to do this—mix the ‘business’ with pleasure. These folks are not well suited as owners!
What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Temperament. Temperament is the single most important thing inherent in these dogs. You can have health and beauty, but if you do not have a sweet loving tempera- ment, it is NOT a Cavalier.
My ultimate goal as a breeder is to improve the breed. I am very particular about my dogs, probably even more than I was about my children. I check for every health issue in the book, including doing MRI screening on my prospective breeding candidate, both male and female.
My favorite dog show memory? I have been truly blessed with great handlers (Laura King and Robin Novack) and memorable show ring experiences. My most memorable experience associated with showing was winning BOB at Westminster in 2018 with my homebred boy. I nearly fell off the bleachers. I was in complete shock! It was truly the thrill of a lifetime!
I love my dogs. They put a smile on my face every day. I love to show them and work with them. At the end of the day, however, I feel that I have accomplished what I am here to do in dogs where I receive pictures and videos of my pets in their ‘forever homes’. They are so loved—it almost brings me to tears. I have people write and say that their home is ‘completed’ because of our puppies. It just warms my heart!
I acquired my first CKCS in 1997, knowing nothing about dog clubs and sports. I attended the CKCSC USA Nationals and talked to many breeders. I also visited the Houston World Series of Dog Shows and watched all the dog sports offered. I was fortunate to find skilled mentors who guided me and encouraged me to partici- pate in conformation, agility, and therapy work. I joined interna-
tional, national, and local dog clubs, eventually becoming an AKC Breeder of Merit. I have bred, shown, and finished confirmation championships in all 4 colors of Cavaliers. I am most proud of hav- ing titled Cavaliers in agility, nose work, obedience, and even farm dog certified. I have enjoyed encouraging new Cavalier owners to compete in dog sports and get involved with clubs. I am very hon- ored that one of my ruby dogs is the first whole color Cavalier in history to be invited to the 2019 AKC NOHS Finals.
My philosophy has always been to continue to educate myself about health issues and to test as many of my Cavaliers as possible for accurate data to improve as a breeder. I look forward to seeing what Cavaliers can accomplish in the future.
I live in Houston, Texas. Outside of my dog activities, I am active in my sorority alumnae group and their altruistic projects. I also like to garden.
Is the breed’s huge popularity good or bad? Popularity can be a double edged sword. Breeders who are focused on preservation breeding will always have very limited stock for potential puppy buyers. Any increase in popularity often leads to an increase in
producers who might not have the best interests in preserving the characteristics that make the breed so special. In finding breeding stock, your reputation proceeds you. When you strive for superior health, temperament, and structure, finding good breeding stock is not difficult. These breeders will work with your breeding plans and enjoy the successes you have in using their stud dogs, etc.
Is the Cavalier the ideal household companion? The Cavalier has always been bred for their companionship. They are incredibly versatile dogs who are more than just couch potatoes. This is not a dog to be left alone for long periods of time. Their favorite activ- ity is just to be with their families. Whatever the plans for the day, they want to be included. They are happy to curl in your lap, take a long walk, run an agility course, or chase squirrels in the backyard. What about the breed serves them well in the living room and in the show ring? This gay, happy, eager to please temperament is the most enduring characteristic of the breed; it serves them well in the home and in any sporting activity.
At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? This is a very difficult breed to evaluate as they change so much during the first year or so. I start to make a judgement at eight to nine weeks old and again at 12-16 weeks. I may run on one or two in a litter and make another decision at one year of age.
What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? I love see- ing Cavaliers that I have bred succeeding in a variety of dog sports, as well as adding so much joy and love to their families. I want my chosen dogs to be evaluated by others so I can make my decisions on future potential breedings. Honest criticism can only help my program. What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? Not sure I understand this question, are you referring to novice judges? The Cavalier should not be judged solely on their beautiful faces and eyes but on the whole package. Good judges consider structure, movement, and temperament as well as expression. If you are referring to potential buyers who have never owned a Cavalier previously, they should do their homework by going to shows, talking to different breeders, attending dog club events like meet the breed, and reading as much as possible about Cavaliers. Good breeders will want to build life- long relationships with new buyers, not just sell them puppies. New buyers should expect a comprehensive interview and application process as part of their purchases. What is my ultimate goal for the breed? Maintaining the breed standard, along with improving their health and longevity. Just having a beautiful dog is not enough if they do not have that fabulous Cavalier attitude—gay and fearless.
My favorite dog show memory? On the last day to qualify for the AKC Agility Nationals, making that last jumpers run for a needed double Q with just seconds to spare! I told my Cavalier to go ahead of me over the last series of jumps as everyone was screaming at us to hurry! He responded like the champion he was, leaving me in the dust. Learning that we qualified for the nationals as a result of that run was an amazing moment. There are four colors in this breed, and each come with their unique characteristics. This is a legacy that should be preserved. Our national club, the ACKCSC, and their regional club have taken a strong lead in researching health conditions commonly found in our breed. They have encouraged comprehensive health testing which has lead to significant health gains in the breed. When I first started in Cavaliers, many Cava- liers did not reach double digits in age. These days it is not uncom- mon to see healthy, active, senior Cavaliers. This is a direct result of improved preservation breeding and an achievement that should be celebrated.
 320 • ShowSight Magazine, noveMber 2019

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