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 soulful eyes and charm. It wasn’t until 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 in 2006 was the day my life changed forever, I never imagined I could love anything the way I love her. We got off to a rocky start health wise with a heart murmur and Syringomyelia being diagnosed by the time she was 2 years old. It was at that point that Charlie came along, a 9 month old rescue boy who had been abandoned in a home. He came with his fair share
of behaviour issues being so under socialised. It was this that led me to pursue my love of dog training and behaviour. He also came
with his share of health issues, the worst was hearing he had a very severe murmur at just 12 months old. Charlie also has Chiari Malformation which is very tricky to manage.
Our lives stayed as a trio for a long time but when I met my husband in 2013 we adopted a beautiful Springer called Archie who
sadly passed away less than 4 years later. He took a large part of my heart with him when he passed and in early 2019 we adopted
another called Jasper who was found as a stray. Amazingly we still have Ruby and Charlie and at 15 and 13 years
old they have far surpassed any life expectancy we had for them. Christmas 2021 we had a call from the charity we adopted Jasper
from to say there was a 5 year old Cavalier being surrendered and could we foster her. It was almost 6 years to the day that Archie
came home so how could we say no? It was a sign, she was also called Ruby so we renamed her Breagh and a few days later she
had made herself so at home that we decided to make her an official member of the family.
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.
I still have two Cavaliers that brighten up my days and keep me smiling. Tanki and Woody can be seen with me in the photo above.
Sandra Collins: Hon. Secretary/Treasurer
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.
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 was honoured to be Chairman of the Companion Club for seven years and hopefully give something back to this very special breed.
Tania Ledger: Vice Chairperson
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.
Melanie Magee: Chairperson
As a family, we haven’t looked back since. Within 18 months of Chestnut moving in as our ‘wonderful red bundle of fun’, Hazel, our first Blenheim joined us and very quickly became my little shadow. It turned out that Prudence, Chestnut and Hazel were in fact distant cousins!
Having convinced my husband David that one more Cavalier really wouldn’t take up much more space, on December 29, 2013, we adopted the wonderful Bonkers, our second Blenheim…. This theme continued when on July 4, 2019, we adopted our third Blenheim, the adorable shy Maple who was a retired breeding girl and we were blessed with four wonderful companions! The love of Cavaliers spread to my in-laws, Peter and Patricia who also have two beautiful rescue girls, Ruby and Rosie.
Tragically, in September 2020 we lost our adorable girl Hazel, and then January 2021, we lost our adorable girl Chestnut, both to a number of conditions including kidney and heart failure. Both had developed MVD and pancreatitis as they got older and were on multiple meds as a result. Hazel also had a rare liver condition and weakened immune system. The support of our amazing club members really helped me to come to terms with losing our 2 beautiful Cavaliers in such a short space of time but sadly only a month after losing Chestnut, Bonkers (our ‘now’ eldest who turns 14 in November 2021), was diagnosed with kidney disease. She has a grade 6 murmur and is just ‘pre heart failure’ and suffers with mild pancreatitis and myoclonic jerks which has impacted her stability.
On Halloween 2020, we adopted our first tri-colour, Lottie who was a puppy farm breeding girl, she is very scared of human contact. We then adopted sisters Lilly Blossom and Macey (tri and black and tan) on Easter Monday 2021, so we now have 5 girls in our family.
As so often the case, it’s far from ‘plain sailing’ when it comes to Cavalier health, in addition to Bonkers’ multiple conditions, Maple has severe dry eye (canine keratitis) making her quite visually impaired, she also has severe separation anxiety, Lottie has MVD, Lilly Blossom has CM / SM and Macey has CM / SM and MVD (with slight enlargement). As such, most of our girls are on medication several times per day.
As the newly elected chairman of the Companion Cavalier Club, I would like to thank all of our members for supporting our club along with the wonderful Cavalier Matters charity, who both provide such critical support, advice and guidance to owners and I hope to continue to meet many of you at our events during my time as Chairman.
My name is Catherine Hevey and I have 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)
I got my first Cavalier in 1977. Her name was Emma, a very sweet natured girl. I am not sure why I chose a Cavalier above any other dog? Maybe it was because I had some bad experiences with big dogs when I was a child and because they looked pretty.
Ron and I bought a tricolour Cavalier in 1981 and called her Truffles. I had decided Cavaliers were definitely for me and Truffles gave us much fun especially when she ate a whole chicken while we were out at work and we had to eat something less exciting. Fortunately she suffered no ill effects.
Milly was our next Cavalier from the same breeder. She was a Black and Tan and she loved to please you. She was so easy to train because of this. Her whole demeanour was one of quietness and such a lovely dog to cuddle.
After Milly died we rescued a Collie who was nine years old. This dog had such good training when he was a puppy that you could walk him off lead anywhere and when you told him to stay he would stay until released.
In 2006 we got our first Ruby Cavalier, Toby, we were well aware of MVD and didn’t want another Cavalier with it as it was heart breaking watching a dog go through the pain and distress of the disease. We asked a lot of questions and were assured by the breeder it wasn’t in her line. Nevertheless Toby also got MVD.
This has made me want to do all I can to keep campaigning to get this disease eradicated from this beautiful breed.
I will also make people aware of Chiari and Syringomyelia in the breed until that too is eradicated.
We bought Ella another Ruby in 2007 and again asked lots of questions about her breeding and health of parents and grandparents but she was diagnosed with Chiari and Syringomyelia and MVD. I was so pleased that she reached double figures in age as the other Cavaliers hadn’t. It was lovely to celebrate her tenth birthday.
In 2015 we bought Abby, a Ruby, and the breeders had taken the trouble to do all the health tests which has given Abby a much better life.
Today we live with Abby and her Blenheim daughter Lola. I must say they certainly keep us active and alert as they enjoy games and training. They also love meeting with other Cavaliers and take us to events so we can join in.