Acquired: Breeder (professional)
Posted January 22, 2014
The first dog I ever had was an English Cocker Spaniel named Peggy.
She came to us when I was very small - I can’t remember life without her - sent from New Zealand to California by my grandmother, who was a breeder.
Peggy was the most beautiful dog for a young girl. She had movie-star good looks and was the spitting image of Lady from Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp”. With her long, flowing red hair, my sister and I spent many an hour happily grooming her and tying blue bows behind her ears.
She was also a great co-conspirator. Like most dogs, Peggy liked table scraps and Peggy enjoyed nothing more than sitting under the dinner table and lapping up the bits of chicken and brussel sprouts my sister and I surreptitiously chucked down to her. She was indiscriminate in her tastes and we loved her for it.
Peggy had a wonderful temperament and was great with children, even children she didn’t know. She was calm, not prone to jumping up (although she could get excited if the situation warranted) and didn’t overly pull on her lead to either chase other dogs, cats, or pursue an elusive scent.
Best of all, Peggy liked to jump up on the bed at night and curl up next to me. Nothing is more reassuring than to have a warm ball of canine love next to you when fierce storms batter your windows. I slept very well, indeed.
There are two drawbacks to this breed. The first is their grooming needs. In order to keep them looking their best, their long hair does need daily brushing and their lovely ears require frequent cleaning. The latter can be quite a messy, smelly and unpleasant task.
The second problem relates to temperament. While English Cocker Spaniels in the main are wonderful pets, the rare dog can have a poor temperament. Because Peggy was so beautiful and well mannered, my mother decided to breed her, but sadly the sire lacked Peggy’s excellent qualities. He was quite anxious and aggressive and 2 of the 5 puppies inherited these traits. Our neighbor had one these pups and after a number of years of trying to live with him, even the vet agreed he needed to be put down. That was a sad day for everyone.
My overall recommendation is that the English Cocker Spaniel is a wonderful dog for a young family and an excellent companion for children. Make sure you look beyond their A List looks and get a dog with a temperament that is happy, calm, and charming - these are the hallmarks of this breed, so it shouldn’t be too much trouble.
And when you do?
As they say in the movies: That’s Amore!