Welcome to the Companion Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club. Our aims are to promote the future health and welfare of the cavalier and to celebrate these little dogs for their wonderful character, fun and the joy they bring to us.
The Companion Cavalier Club
When our Club was started in January 2012 one of our objectives was to give pet owners a voice when decisions about the future of cavaliers were discussed. It was thought that this may be best achieved by applying to become a Kennel Club registered breed club. After a fourteen month wait the Kennel Club informed us that our application has not been approved “on the grounds that the breed is adequately served by the registered clubs for the breed.”
Although we question whether the KC is correct in its belief that the breed is adequately served by the existing registered clubs, we are pleased that they have promised that our Club will be consulted, alongside the breed clubs, on health matters. This concession will hopefully give cavalier pet owners a chance to make their views known within the Kennel Club Organisation.
The club will try to keep all its members up to date with all the latest information relating to health research, puppy buying and general care of your cavalier.
We will also be promoting fun events where members can meet and enjoy a day out with like minded people and their pets.
Joining the Companion Cavalier Club
If you would like to join our club please read about our Aims and Objects and the Rules of the Club, then download a membership form and post it to our Secretary or complete our online form.
New membership applications are usually considered within a few days. If accepted each new Member will be sent a Companion Club bandana in their choice of two colours.
Prospective members can apply to join our facebook page as soon as their Club membership form is received by our Secretary.
If the unlikely circumstance of the membership application being refused, the joining fee will be immediately refunded.
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Well, what can I say about owning a Cavalier? I could write a book really, they have changed the direction of my life and made me a better person.
The first time I came across a Cavalier was back in my teenage years when an Ex-boyfriend’s parents owned a beautiful Blenheim called Lady. She was a true Lady and was of a fair age when I met her, still I fell for her soulfull eyes and charm. It wasn’t untill my early twenties when I moved in to my own home that I started looking for a dog of my own and it was a Cavalier that I wanted!
The day I bought Ruby home was the day my world changed, I could never have imagined how much I would love her but life would throw alot at us along the way. I have been somewhat unlucky with my Cavaliers. Both of which have health issues to live with, Ruby suffers with Syringomyelia. I know that one day she won’t be able to live the way she does know but I vowed to her on the journey home from that diagnosis that she would live a normal life for as long a possible, and that she does.
My second Cavalier is Charlie, I rescued him at 9 months old as I wanted a companion for Ruby. He has his own health problems too, mainly heart related but he is a true joy and a proper cheeky boy about town! He has tested me and made me a better dog owner and due to the issues he had from being a rescue I decided to start training as a Dog Behaviourist. The techniques I learned along the way have been invaluable in life and even opened some doors along the way. Helping out at puppy socialisation classes being my favourite!
To own a dog is to live with a friend, a soulmate, a companion and a true love.
I have owned cavaliers since 1976, when we bought a tricolour puppy for my daughter’s eighth birthday. She won two classes at a fun show, the judge said we should show her, and we were hooked.
I bred a very few litters and 1992 my once-in-a-lifetime Cavalier was born. His pet name was Monty, but in the showring he became well known as Champion Mareve Indiana. He had a fantastic show career and became a leading stud dog for many years. I had a wonderful partnership with him.
When Monty was nine years old I found out he and some of his offspring were implicated in the spread of a newly identified health problem called syringomyelia( SM ). He had no symptoms of the condition at that time, but two years later he started screaming with neck pain and eventually I was forced to make the decision to put him to sleep. A post mortem confirmed he had syringomyelia.
I spent six years working with researchers and trying to get the Kennel Club and breeders to take the rapidly spreading problem of SM seriously. In 2008 I appeared in the documentary ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’, which publicised the issue, and this led to my removal from my long time position as UK Cavalier Club health representative.
I still work to improve the health and welfare of Cavaliers. I organise the Cavalier Collection Scheme which helps owners volunteer their dead pets for post mortem and cell tissue donation: www.thecavaliertissuecollectionscheme.org and I was a member of the Expert Panel to the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding (now unfortunately discontinued through lack of funding ) I am also a Trustee for the Cavalier Matters Charity and I run a Facebook page and a website that provide advice to puppy buyers: www.cavalierpuppy.co.uk.
I am one of the administrators of the Companion Club Facebook group and also run a ‘Cavaliers Are Special’ Facebook page to promote a well supported on-line petition for mandatory testing for Cavaliers
I still have three Cavaliers that brighten up my days and keep me smiling.. They are my lovely tricolour Faith, now thirteen years old, and her two grown up puppies, Tanki and Woody. The two boys can be seen with me in the photo above.
Sandra Collins: Hon. Secretary
Cavaliers first came into my life many years ago. A friend of mine was going through a domestic crisis and brought me her dog to look after which happened to be a beautiful tri-coloured cavalier. For the short time I looked after her she stole my heart and I knew that one day this was the breed of dog I would like to own.
Since April 1990 we have had a succession of these wonderful dogs sharing our lives, our first being a beautiful Blenheim called Lady Jane (Lady) who lost to MVD at the age of 11. We were joined in December 1999 by lovely Cinders who came from what we later realised was a “puppy farm” dealer. In August 2012 when Cinders was one month from 13 years of age she was laid to rest. Cinders had become deaf at around 7 years of age, she had MVD although was not in heart failure and we suspected she had Syringomyelia. However, it was found that she had 3 slipped discs and was SM free. She was donated to the Cavalier Tissue Collection Scheme and because she did not have SM her gift to the cavalier research was huge.
In March 2006 Minnie-May came to us from a well-known breeder after I had done some research (not on SM as did not know about it then). We took part in fun Agility, Rally and she reached Gold Level in the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme. In April 2010 she was MRI’d following some concerns I had with her “funny quirky” behaviours and a spell of unexplained lameness. We were given the devastating news that she had Syringomyelia (with a 7mm syrinx). Fortunately for us we are under the amazing care of Clare Rusbridge and with some trial and error with her medication she was kept comfortable. She was diagnosed with MVD at age 6, however in June 2017 she had a major crisis with her MVD which she could not be brought back from, and our lovely Minnie passed to Rainbow Bridge.
In March 2012, a dear little rescue dog came our way – Rosie, she was about 6 years old and settled into life with us as if she had always been here. After a few months I started to notice some worrying signs and she was MRI’d at the RVC and found to have SM. At the same time Rosie took part in an MVD trial and her heart was also MRI’d. Dear Rosie’s heart gave up in December 2015.
May 2013 saw us take on a on another little rescue – Tilly. Again, she was about 6 years old. She had been shut up in a shed having litter after litter. She was riddled with arthritis, and developed MVD, but let a very happy, sedentary but comfortable life until her little body just gave up and we helped her to pass to Rainbow Bridge to join her dear friends in April 2020.
After we lost Minnie, we decided to do some thorough research and were so lucky to find a breeder that was doing all the necessary health tests. After an anxious wait we were lucky to be given the opportunity to have a puppy from fully health tested parents and in December 2017 Nala came into our lives. She is an absolute delight and certainly keeps us entertained and on our toes with her antics. We have managed to get our Bronze KC Good Citizen Award. However, her most favourite activity is finding water and swimming regardless of the weather!
I have the pleasure of being the Honorary Secretary for the Club since its beginning and have made so many friends.
Kate Hughes: Chairman
I first met Cavaliers in the 1960s, when a friend had two of them. At that time I wasn’t able to have a dog, but I filed away in my mind what happy and friendly dogs they were. In 1983 I was living with a family in Johannesburg who wanted a dog for their 10-year-old son and asked my advice. I recommended a Cavalier and Charlie, a tricolour puppy, joined the family. For various reasons this didn’t work out and I was given Charlie for my own. He was the most joyful dog I have ever met, but sadly he died of gastro-enteritis at the age of 4½. A friend commented that ‘We have had a friend called Kate and Charlie; now we just have a friend called Kate.’
By now I couldn’t imagine life without a Cavalier, so I rang round one or two breeders I knew, looking for a puppy. There weren’t all that many Cavaliers in South Africa, so no puppies were available, but a friend asked me to have Meg, a 3-year-old Blenheim who needed to be an only dog. She was shy, scared of any other breed of dog and had been the bottom of the pecking order at home, so I had to work hard to give her confidence. Eventually she blossomed into a gentle, loving and very pretty Cavalier. In 1990 I came back to England and Meg went into quarantine for 6 months. I visited her every week and, apart from a sticky couple of weeks in the middle when she got really upset when I left yet again, the experience helped her to relate more confidently to strangers. In her pre-travel vet check, she had been diagnosed with MVD, and after three happy years in England she died of heart failure aged 8½.
Next came Rowley, a black and tan puppy with health problems. He was the most difficult dog I have ever owned, but with hindsight I’m fairly sure that he had severe but undiagnosed syringomyelia and was probably in constant and often severe pain – this was before the availability of MRI scans for dogs, when very few vets knew anything about CM/SM. In spite of this he managed to live to the age of 10 before dying of heart failure.
Then Oliver came into my life, a year-old ruby reluctantly rehomed by his breeder because of his liking for getting over the garden wall and disappearing into the Yorkshire countryside for hours on end. His life with me was too full to get bored – he did moderately well at show and in competition obedience, was a Pets as Therapy visitor for people with dementia for 5 years, was a wonderful companion on some great holidays and much loved by all my friends. He also took part in a number of health trials at the RVC. He had the wonderful Cavalier temperament: happy, laid back, ready for anything as long as he was with humans. Sadly, he developed degenerative myelopathy in his later years and when his hind-leg paralysis became too bad, was put to sleep in February 2015 at the age of 13.
Aled joined us in 2008 when he was 18 months old. He was a Blenheim rescue from a Welsh puppy farm and his experience was that of a young puppy – clearly he had spent most of his life shut in a kennel. He got immense confidence from his ‘big brother’, but was always nervous on his own. He loved running offlead in the park, tearing around at top speed clearly saying ‘I’m free! I’m free!’ Like Oliver, he coped with trains, buses, the Underground, camping holidays, country walks, meetings, visiting friends and all the other things that my dogs and I do together. Sadly both Oliver and Aled had CM/SM and heart murmurs, but with the help of medication they led full and happy lives, until Aled died of MVD at the age of 7 in February 2015. Both Oliver and Aled donated tissue to research through the Cavalier Collection Scheme.
Now I have another rescue, Blenheim Ruby, who arrived in May 2015. Cavaliers have given me so much pleasure through the years that I am honoured to be Chairman of the Companion Club and hopefully able to give something back to this very special breed.
Tania Ledger: Vice Chairman
My name is Tania Ledger I have four Cavalier King Charles Spaniels – they include four-year-old Molly, a Tri-colour Cavalier who has Syringomyelia (SM); four-year-old Dougall, a Blenheim Cavalier who has a Chiari Malformation (and may go on to develop SM) and four-year-old Dotty, who was rescued from a puppy farm when she was estimated to be about two and half years old.
I had never owned a dog before and undertook a great deal of research, of both the breeds and the breeders, before taking on the responsibility. I was devastated when Molly and Dougall were both diagnosed with this painful and cruel disease.
Following on from this I set up a website, www.cavaliermatters.org to pass on my experience for the benefit of hopeful Cavalier owners. From this I started to raise funds for research and Cavaliers in rescue.
This has now grown and I have established a charity, Cavalier Matters, to help other Cavalier owners deal with SM and other genetic health issues. All of my spare time is spent raising funds for this charity and I hope the charity will help to improve the quality of Cavaliers lives by giving the owners support and information leading to the appropriate care needed and advice of veterinary treatment available.
My name is Catherine Hevey and I have owned been owned by a Cavalier for seven years. I fell in love with the breed a long time ago when I was just 12. I was introduced to a Blenheim Cavalier called Rosie and she stole my heart with her kind and loving nature. I decided then that one day I would have my own Cavalier.
It was many years later that I decided my situation was now fit to own a Cavalier, I did what I thought was detailed research and looked for a Kennel Club breeder to get my puppy. Only at a later date did I realise the breeder did not carry out all the recommended health checks, only the mandatory ones which unfortunately does not capture the signs of Syringomyelia (SM for short). SM is a very painful and unfortunately an all too common condition in the Cavalier breed. Tyler was diagnosed with SM before his second birthday. It was around this time I found the Companion Cavalier club. The website was so informative and the Facebook members were so helpful when you were looking for advice which came from people that had been there before you. The club has been a fantastic help to me and I am delighted now I can give something back.
Two and a half years after getting Tyler I was fortunate enough to add to my family with Tyler’s litter mate, another Blenheim called Charlie. Charlie has recently been diagnosed with CM (Chiari-Like Malformation). I love all animals, Cats, dogs, horses, the list goes on but there is nothing like a Cavalier to melt your heart with their unconditional love and eagerness to please their “Owners” (I do believe that they own us and I would not have it any other way)