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 do 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.
Committee meetings to consider new membership applications are held every 3 to 4 weeks. If accepted each new Member will be sent a Companion Club bandana in their choice of two colours.
Prospective members can apply 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.
MARGARET CARTER: HEALTH REPRESENTATIVE
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 ring 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.thecavaliercollectionscheme.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 have also recently organised a well supported on-line petition for mandatory testing for Cavaliers which can be seen here
I still have three Cavaliers. These are the lovely tricolour Faith and her two grown up puppies, Tanki and Woody. The two boys can be seen with me in the photo above. They, together with my four little Japanese Chins, brighten up my days and keep me smiling.
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.
Eventually circumstances meant that we could let a dog come into our lives. So in April 1990 a Blenheim cavalier called Lady Jane (Lady) became part of our family.
Later in 1999 we were able to welcome our second Cavalier into our lives. Too late we realised that we had gone to a “Puppy Farm”, but like so many people before us and since, once seen we just had to take her and Cinders joined our family. We were able to participate in lots of activities with her including Fun Agility and she took part in many displays that our Dog Training School undertook. Cinders went onto to become a Silver Level Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog.
We lost Lady to MVD at 11 years of age and Cinders became an only dog for quite some time. I then took some time and researched a little bit more as to where I got my next Cavalier from.
Minnie-May came to us from a well known breeder and showperson in March 2006, she was an absolute delight and again we did fun Agility, Rally O and a lot of advanced Clicker work with her. 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 has Syringomyelia (with a 7mm syrinx). Fortunately for us we are under the amazing care of Dr Clare Rusbridge and with some trial and error with her medication she has continued to be the happy fun loving dog she has always been. Despite her SM and Grade 5 heart murmur she still loves to run off and chase anything that moves!
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 and she was found to have a high grade heart murmur. Sadly our loving, gentle girl succumbed to heart disease in December 2015.
In August 2012 when Cinders was one month off of 13 years of age she was laid to rest. Cinders had become deaf at around 7 years of age, she had MVD although not in heart failure and we suspected she had Syringomyelia. However, it was found that she had 3 slipped discs and did not have SM. She was donated to the Cavalier Collection Scheme and because she did not have SM her gift to the cavalier research was huge.
Tilly was the next rescue tri-colour cavalier and joined our family in May 2013, she had been locked away and used as a breeding bitch for around 6 years. She was extremely traumatized and even now is very wary of people. She also has a heart murmur and very bad arthritis in her front legs, so she now comes to mini meets complete with carry bag!
I would also like to say that I have received an amazing amount of support from the Cavalier Talk Forum and this led me to become involved in helping with the Cavalier Matters charity and now the Companion Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club. I have the pleasure of being in my fourth year as Honorary Secretary and love being a part of this Club.
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.
Graham Ledger : Treasurer
Graham has been a Chartered Certified Accountant for over 30 years. Graham is owned by four Cavaliers. His accountancy experience comes in very handy for counting their daily treats.
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 love affair with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel started firstly as a teenager when my auntie bred Cavaliers, and I looked after her beautiful Blenheim named Prudence. Then my love for them was reignited in 2005 when Chestnut, our first Cavalier who was four months old, came into our lives. As a family, we haven’t looked back since. Within 18 months of Chestnut moving in as our wonderful red bundle of Ruby fun, Hazel, our first Blenheim joined us and very quickly became my little shadow. Our girls travel with us, and have enjoyed trips to France over the past few years. Having convinced David that one more Cavalier wouldn’t take up much more space, we then adopted the wonderful Bonkers, our second Blenheim and we truly are blessed with three wonderful companions.
Our Cavaliers are truly part of the family, and Hazel is also a lifesaver. Having found me unconscious following a bad night time diabetic hypo when I was home alone, she refused to leave my side and nudged at me until I started to regain consciousness and was able to get emergency treatment. She most definitely earned her treats that day!
Sadly all three of our wonderful Cavaliers have developed breed related health conditions. Hazel has liver disease due to a damaged immune system (common in the breed) meaning she is on medication 3 times per day, and needs regular blood tests and scans to assess her liver function, she has also developed minor myoclonic jerks and has a grade 2 heart murmur (not medicated). Chestnut has been diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, thankfully she’s still heart clear. Bonkers has developed minor myoclonic jerks and has a grade 2 heart murmur but thankfully is not medicated. This has made it even more important than ever to be part of our wonderful club that provides such support and guidance to owners.’
My first Cavalier came into my life in July 2002 and what an impact my ruby Precious Tom Thumb made. He was my constant companion, wherever I went so did he. He started my love affair with this breed and my heart truly broke when through the years he developed a heart murmur which quickly progressed to advanced congestive heart failure by the time he was 7yrs. Through a cocktail of maximum medication he lived comfortably and happy with me until I lost him to acute kidney failure from the meds aged 8yrs 8mnths. Having owned dogs all my life Tom was ‘THE’ dog that steals your heart, and because of his CHF and the heartache this caused I would love to see MVD disappear from the list of health conditions this breed suffer with so that no other owner has to experience what we went through. But, I’m so very grateful this special boy came into my life as he was part of what would come next…
I couldn’t bear to not share my life with a Cavalier and soon after losing Tom a ruby girl called Bella chose me for her owner in February 2011 and this energetic little diva makes me smile every day. She really is a very special, active, clever girl who loves to learn and I’m pleased to say, to date, is healthy. And now she is my constant shadow.
As a puppy we kept ourselves busy with fun agility, the Kennel Club Good Citizen obedience classes, participated in ringcraft classes with a view to showing, but it was clear her favourite pastime would be competition agility. Bella really is a very vocal ‘pocket-rocket’ in training classes and I’ve yet to see a Cavalier run as quick round the courses, it’s hard to keep up with her! She really does love her agility and we’re now competing in KC grade 5 at shows. Her second passion is the beach, which has been an essential annual holiday for her since a pup. When she’s not paddling and running through sand dunes she’s busy collecting a stash of feathers and sticks at home around our lake to carry on walks.
I believe I’ve been very lucky to have such close bonds with two ruby Cavaliers who will always be my soul mates and best friends. And both of them very clearly wished to remain single dogs so they could hog all my love and affection. Greedy!
My knowledge and experience of a lifetime with dogs has previously led me to working at my veterinary practice advising clients and assisting the vets/nurses; besides working for a pet sitting agency that offers a range of services to owners.
I truly believe that Cavalier owners are as lovely as their dogs and it’s certainly true in this Club. We all share a common passion for this lovely breed and I hope the future for them will be a healthier one.