"Star was really smelly from being urine soaked, it was
so bad she had burns from the urine.  That didn't matter
to Joseph who hugged her as she leaned into him to thank
him for saving her from the puppymill."
photo

Around 1979, I was watching a TV show on PBS hosted by Barbara Woodhouse. She had a gorgeous little spaniel which she was training and mentioned what a wonderful breed this dog was. Living in the midwest at the time, I had never seen a Cavalier in person, but I knew I had to become involved with the breed! I dreamed of loving, exhibiting and producing Cavaliers, but knew I needed to learn much more.

Through the years, I ran into a few Cavalier breeders, both here and in the UK, but the timing was not right for me--we had young children that needed my attention. Then, in 1995, we decided we were ready to make the commitment of educating ourselves, finding mentors, showing, health testing--all the things an ethical breeder does for the love of the breed.

My youngest son (depicted on the right), husband and I were involved with a Cavalier rescue group and helped to rescue Cavaliers from the puppymill auctions. We were horrified by the conditions the dogs were kept in the puppymills. Dogs don't belong there, especially not Cavaliers.
                                                                                                                       Copyright - Artist - Jane Havens Tellor
Unfortunately, the puppymills, or commercial breeders, or "pet industry breeders," as they like to call themselves, figured out we had unwittingly created a market for them. They started importing Cavaliers from other countries to sell at auction. The prices were amazingly high. It is so difficult to leave a Cavalier in that situation, and until you have had to walk away from one, or more, at an auction, you will never know how painful it is. However, I have serious concerns that if we continue to buy the dogs, we continue to keep the puppymills and the auction companies who work with the mills in business. I think our money would be much better spent on hiring a professional lobbyist to get the laws changed and ban puppymills and to raise public awareness about the horrors of the commercial pet industry.

A few years ago, I helped convince a good sized producer of Cavaliers in Canada to stop producing. He meant well, but was ignorant to the health issues of the breed, having been told his "foundation stock did not have problems." He believed it until I made a trip to Canada and helped take all his dogs through a health clinic. We also went to a dog show so he could see conformationally correct Cavaliers. In the end, he did right by his dogs, stopped breeding and turned them all over to rescue. I currently have one of the girls that came from there and my mother has one. Another is living with a lovely family. They were never used for breeding and are enjoying their lives being loved and pampered. They bring all of us great joy.

Because of our love of this breed, we've named our kennel Caryse which is a Gaelic term meaning love. We never knew how much love we would gain until we got into Cavaliers--and I have had dogs all my life. Now that we are owned by the Cavaliers, no other breed will do.

All our Cavaliers live in our home, sleep on our beds and furniture. They are our four legged children. My husband calls from work to check on the dogs. He's as smitten with them as I am and as dedicated to them, taking time off from work to enable me to attend the out of town shows. My mother is a dedicated Cavalier grandmother! She attends many of the shows with me and dotes on them all, especially Jasmine, who now lives with her. Before my father's recent passing, he would inquire how my dogs were. My answer would always be "perfect." He enjoyed the dogs, but wasn't too keen on those face kisses!

I am most appreciative of the breeders who have entrusted me with their dogs I am so very proud of and to the breeders whose lines they come down from. It is our intention to produce healthy, beautiful and sound Cavaliers and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect the breed we waited almost a lifetime to serve. We will continue to work with our mentors and friends to do so.