THE FIRST TIME

 

In the mid 80s my husband and I were walking one evening near an English Cotswold village. As we admired the manor house at the head of the street, overlooking the cottages and the pub, two local residents came upon us, out for a stroll with their two Cavaliers. In the gathering twilight we were mesmerized  by the glamorous happy dogs as they trotted by. Later that same summer, exploring an ancient graveyard somewhere in Kent, we chanced on a little Cavalier bitch sitting at a gate while her owner tended to business inside the church. She had been told to wait, and so she did—content to greet us and to wag for us, but her eyes were fixed straight ahead until her owner returned to her. Those were our first exposures to Cavaliers, and it was their beauty and their gentle unwavering focus that entranced us—and led to the purchase of our first Cavalier.

Carol Williams, current president of the American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, saw her first Cavaliers at the home of a noted Oregon breeder, out in the gardens, with Mount Hood in the distance. The gay abandon of these little dogs, their joy and enthusiasm, in that beautiful setting, inspired Carol to acquire her first Cavalier.  Patty Kanan, long time ACKCSC Board member and now VP, remembers the first Cavalier she ever really knew, a little dog named Bumpkin who belonged to a friend where she went to school one English summer. Bumpkin was their constant companion, never on a lead, always obedient, with his head just visible over the grasses as he chased after rabbits, birds, and butterflies. Bumpkin’s unwavering affection, combined with his sporting nature, led to Patty’s acquisition of a little Tri boy named ‘Dougie,’  who became her devoted friend for over 14 years.  David Kirkland first saw Cavaliers when he judged them at a match at Penn Treaty in the early 90s (before AKC recognition). He says: “I was immediately taken by their…friendly demeanor and sweet, sweet, sweet faces.  I just had to have one.”

So what does all of this mean?  Specifically, that no matter who is reminiscing, it is not only his esthetic beauty, but also the friendliness and exuberance of the Cavalier that resonates with us all. Whether romping across a meadow or waiting with singular purpose at a gate, the Cavalier has a temperament to be cherished and preserved above all else. While fanciers may disagree about size and bone and coat texture …we are all united in our agreement that the quintessential appeal of the Cavalier has to do with his very nature—his loving constancy, and the way he greets each day as if it held all of life’s promises.

---Stephanie Abraham * P.O. Box 346 * Scotland, CT 06264

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