Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Breed Column
AKC Gazette - March, 2002

Many factors, not the least being the Internet, have led those seeking a companion to turn from the usual Labrador Retriever or Cocker Spaniel to our breed. Educated puppy buyers are making decisions based on the breed's characteristics: the Cocker's coat needs too much care for some, but the Cavalier's lower-maintenance coat is perfect for them. Some potential owners like the sporting attitude and sweetness of the Labrador, but need a smaller dog - like the Cavalier.

Those of us who choose to list ourselves as Cavalier breeders and fanciers must give up a certain amount of time for phone education, and do it with grace and a smile as we talk to some of the nicest (and some of the rudest) folks you will ever encounter. This is appreciated when those who call recognize the fact that we are volunteering information about the breed that we love - we are not sales-people on 24-hours-a-day duty.

The fact that our breed fits the bill in so many ways - size, temperament, beauty, and ease of care - makes it appealing to many people. After all, Cavaliers are the number-one toy breed in Great Britain. Though American breeders are not anxious to duplicate that record, the answer does not lie in denying information to the public, nor in being desultory to those who sound like less-than-perfect candidates for Cavalier ownership.

Recently I had an inquiry from a lady who seemed indignant from the onset that I would question where the puppy would live or how it would be raised. I reminded her of the Cavaliers' lack of "car sense" - that the dogs are terribly trusting and not afraid of cars, which brings some of them to a bad end. She haughtily told me that she lived on 50 acres. I countered, good- naturedly, that it was always that one time the delivery truck comes down the drive that brings the disaster. She snapped that they didn't accept deliveries there. We, ended our circular conversation with her disgusted, and still searching for a puppy.

On the flip side, some of our best homes have been with people who were not great communicators. Had I not been patient and drawn them out a bit, I would never have known they were willing to devote 16 hours a day to one of my puppies.

Whether a person has experience in buying a puppy or not, I do expect common courtesy. Admittedly, phone calls that start "You got any puppies for sale?" are answered with an icy "No, I don't" and then silence. They either get the hint or not. I don't answer e-mail inquiries that state "want Cavalier - send details" and which clearly have been sent to many breeders.

This word-of-mouth education is a slow process but can only do good for the Cavalier. Whether dispensing Cavalier knowledge or seeking it, patience and manners go a long way.

- John D. Gammon, AKC Parent Club President & Gazette Breed Columnist