Acquired: Pet store
Posted April 9, 2014
Shadow was an American Cocker Spaniel (purebred, AKC registered) my family purchased from a pet store. She was the runt of the litter, and was on the smallish side, even for an American Cocker Spaniel (which tend to be smaller than the English Cocker Spaniels).
She got sick and nearly died right after we got her with an intestinal parasite that she'd had at the pet store. She recovered from that, and was reasonably healthy for the next ten years or so. She was never able to see very well, but the condition could not be corrected and did not require treatment. When she got older she had glaucoma, so the vet bills for the last four years or so were astronomical, but by then she was part of the family and what were we going to do?!
She didn't have any formal training, but my Mother is really good with animals and taught her the basics (sit, lie, stay, OK, etc.). She was very friendly with kids, visitors, and our household pets, but she didn't like other animals. It was really important not to mess with her food while she was eating. She would act like she was going to take your hand off. We figured that must have been the result of being the runt of the litter. She never even acted like she was going to bite anyone at any other time.
We traveled a lot and she went with us. We had no choice on this matter, because she had severe separation anxiety. If we left her alone outside of her travel crate, she would defecate all over everything and chew the place up like a mad dog. It was incredible. We learned the hard way in a really expensive hotel room - where we were not supposed to have pets (yikes)!
But when she was with us, she was the sweetest dog ever. She was very mild mannered and easy-going. She was quiet - she actually didn't learn to bark until she was much older and we had to leave her at a kennel - then she learned from the other dogs there. Before that, instead of barking, she would act as if she were howling, but no sound would come out.
Grooming on Cocker Spaniels is a challenge. They have these beautiful long feathers on the lower half of their bodies that get tangled and tend to pick up goat heads and dirt. They need to be brushed A LOT. They love water though, so bathing is not a problem. We actually had to make sure the bathroom door was closed tight any time we ran the water in the tub, or she would run and jump in with us!
In summary, these dogs are good companions, but very expensive and very high maintenance. The smaller ones can live a very long time, so it's important to be prepared for a long-term commitment. Ours really was the best friend, however. She's been gone for many years, and I still miss her.