View Full Version : feeling guilty...

18th December 2006, 10:28 PM
I was in the market earlier and met a girl with a lovely 6 month old ruby cav boy- dressed in a very fetching pink plaid coat :lol: - and got talking to her. I asked if she knew about Cav health issues and she immediately said, "Oh, with their eyes?" and I told her about MVD and SM. I tried not to scare her, simply said that statistically these conditions had a very high occurence in this breed. I gave her the name of this site and told her not to panic at this point- to enjoy her puppy, but to ensure that she was aware and informed. The girl thanked me and left after saying that the breeder had mentioned NOTHING about ANY health issues apart from runny eyes :roll: - but it left me feeling angry at the breeder and guilty that my words may have destroyed this girl's pleasure and delight in her lovely pup.

How DO you raise awareness without risking this, or scaring people altogether? Or worse, frightening a new owner so badly that they decide they can't be bothered and dump the dog?

Cathy T
18th December 2006, 10:36 PM
I think you did the best thing. When I meet someone who is unaware of the health issues and have already aquired their Cavalier I will usually give them my e-mail and phone and tell them about a couple of the sites. I try not to scare them but let them know they need to be aware of these things.

Joanne M
19th December 2006, 01:09 AM
Sometimes I wish I didn't know, I can work myself into a real good worry with very little effort. On the other hand, to be responsible care givers, we need to be prepared and be knowledgeable about the breed.

What did you say about putting pink on a boy? Seems to me we've got an identity crisis brewing. :p

19th December 2006, 01:15 AM
When I bought Lia, the breeder said me nothind about MVD or SM. I have a book ao Cavaliers and in it is explained all about MVD, but nothing about SM.
I love this site because we talk about the gorgeus things of our cavaliers, but talk about the saddest things too.
And I think you did the best thing!

19th December 2006, 01:44 AM
I'd tend to encourage people to get involved with the boards or email lists and as one reason why, say they cover lots of key information and advice on feeding, exercise, training, and the important health issues that owners need to know about like MVD and SM.

I don't think I would directly approach people to warn them of health issues -- I'd rather have that be part of a larger, positive package I'm promoting. :)

I keep meaning to do up some cavaliertalk/rescue business cards to give to people I meet on walks. Incidentally, I give new owners of rescue cavaliers the same packet of info I gave people at Tara and Lisa's cavalier training class (mostly stuff from here) -- and go through things like feeding, grooming, history of the breed a little bit, and of course health issues. But not only health issues. My emphasis remains MVD and symptoms as that is what most people will deal with at this time.

19th December 2006, 02:00 AM
I understand what you mean about some of the joy being diminished. I was saying that on another thread the other day, that all the worry about SM has taken some of the joy out of having a new puppy. While my breeder did tell me that Lily's parents had been checked by an opthamologist and cardiologist, and were clear, when I asked her about SM she acted like she didn't know what I was talking about. Whether she really didn't know or was faking, I'll never know. She's the one that brought up the MVD and eyes, so I thought she was really caring, and forthright. However, knowing what I know now, I can't believe that a person who has Cavs for 5 yeas could not know about SM. I had read about SM, but I had not found this site yet. Mostly everything I read stressed the MVD. So when the breeder acted like she had never heard of it, I assumed that it was nothing serious, and the chances of getting a dog with SM were 1 in a million. I had no idea it was so wide spread, and serious.

With all that being said, I could have a dog with SM, and never have known if I had not found this site. While it has been stressful, and some of the joy diminished, for me personally, I would rather know if she does have it so I can get her treated early, if that's an option.

19th December 2006, 02:29 AM
I am in the process of developing my thoughts and opinions on many subjects having to do with health, breeders, etc. I'm hoping I can come up with a balance. I too did not know about SM. I admit, plain and simple, I got Laci from what has been termed a backyard breeder.. I think... as I have understood the definition of back yard breeders up to this point. I do believe it's important to know about the possible health issues, and I do think if at all possible dogs should not be bred in such a way to knowingly promote these health problems. Having said that, I grapple with the thought that all living creatures have health weaknesses, no matter what and at some point are going to age to the point that they will be sick and die. Of course we don't want them to do so prematurely and we certainly don't want them to suffer painful unhappy lives. I can not allow myself to worry about Laci having any of these issues. I'll learn about the possibilites, and if I see symtoms, I'll seek the care she needs. And.... if the time comes that she can no longer enjoy life for pain and suffering, I'll do what I have to do.

I think Karlin's idea about giving new folks website information and inviting them to join the forum is excellent. These sites have a human element and alot of caring folks so as new people get their eyes opened a little at a time they will have someone to bounce ideas off of and talk to for support should the need arise. Otherwise, laying it all out for them at once might be more than some can take.


19th December 2006, 10:55 AM
I never heard of SM until I came here. What's MVD? Maybe in Dutch I've heard of it.

19th December 2006, 11:10 AM
Mitral Valve Disease

19th December 2006, 12:11 PM
the breeder never told me about either of the conditions! like some of u, i work myself into a mad yoke, watching freddie like a hawk when he starts scratching, i am glued to him, put alot of it is his collar and normal puppy behaviour i hope! :)

19th December 2006, 12:16 PM
I normally get into conversation with a Cav owner and just gently ask if all is well with their dog, the same as any other dog that we meet...it brakes the ice and starts the chat flowing! if all is well I leave well alone but I do mention this site as a good place to enjoy a Cav with others who are similar minded...here they can find out about SM and other health issues in their own time as well as enjoy the list....

If all is not well and they seem concerned about scratching, yelping and various signs of SM then I inform them that there is information about SM at my vets where I do leave information sheets there that I have made up with groups/sites/info for SM on it....I am also happy to give my number if they want to ring when they have a little more time to talk...I wouldn't tell the full details there and then...only the very, very basics...like a trip to the vet might be a good idea to start with.

Big medical names and terms scare alot of people, it did me. The best way to take in information like this is in a quite prepared enviroment. You can only touch the tip of the problem and gently raise awareness the rest comes down to the owner themselves to find a little more out in their own time.

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

19th December 2006, 06:46 PM
Yes, I did stress that I was just letting her know to be *aware* and that it wouldn't hurt to educate herself on the issues- giving this site as a starting point. I also told her I have two Cavs myself, one of whom is only a month younger than her own pup, and that there was no reason to panic or worry- just enjoy the pup and take things as they come, but to be aware. She did seem grateful for the info so hopefully we'll see her around one of these days.

Then again, if someone had stopped me when Holly was little and mentioned health issues I wasn't aware of, I might well have shrugged them off and said, "Well, the breeder didn't say anything and he/she presumably knows more than so-and-so on the street." I did know of MVD, and was aware vaguely that 'air scratching' meant something nasty neurologically and could be fatal, but I didn't know and was not told about SM.

Cicero's Mummy
19th December 2006, 06:52 PM
Let me stress this is IN MY OWN OPINION:


I wouldnt feel too guilty... you didn't just run up to her and say... "oh did you know your new dog has health problems related to the breed?" RIGHT? (if you did, shame shame) But you struck up a conversation, which means she was interested in your feedback as an experienced owner (no matter how little, it helps trust me!).

I would be ever so greatful to ANYONE who let me know about things that could happen to my doggie in advance so that I can catch it early on!

I didn't know about SM until I found a site about a dog named Ollie... and then it lead me here! I am ever so grateful for this board! Hopefully (God forbid) if anything happens to our little one, we will catch it early and already be somewhat educated!

I was told by a breeder that it is not "if but when" they were going to get MVD. That was her "scare tatic" approach to see if people were really into the breed and going to keep the puppy through thick and thin, not just while it is cute.

Then, by a VET, I was told not to put too much emphasis on when my little one was going to get it... I was also told BY A VET that it is an easy disease to treat and maintain if you pay attention and such. That alot of emphasis was put on it by breeders to make sure that pups don't (hopefully) fall into the wrong hands.

As for SM, I am beginning to learn about the disease. My vet once again warned me that not all CKCS get SM and that I should be observant but not obsessive. Mainly, I should not let it get in the way of me enjoying my time with our brilliant new addition!

19th December 2006, 07:14 PM
Similar experince with me just on Friday night. I was at a pet store and got to talking about what breed our new puppy was. The store owner said her sister has been saying for a few mths, that the next dog she is going to choose! She wants a Cavalier. I simply said, all the great things about this breed but you have to also be aware of their health issues and named them and try to find a vet that has experience with them (I am still working on finding one...) But I also added when her eyes popped, that we were cautioned with our lab about specifc breed health issues - no breed is perfect. You just have to research any breed and be informed of health problems to watch for and also MAKE the choice before hand, should you be unfortunate, you will be able/willing to deal with it. I didnt fall in love with this breed and then find out, I feel in love with cavaliers inspite of knowing the risks.

19th December 2006, 07:33 PM
I didn't know much about SM until we got Mary Alice.

Charley had MVD for many years, so I'm well versed on his probs.

IMO, the most important thing is to not get "obsessed" with disease, but to enjoy your life with these loving, funny, caring doggies.

We don't obsess about what "could" happen with ourselves, just be knowledgeable and aware.

We all have a short life, it should be a great one! Enjoy yourselves and your furbabies! ;D

19th December 2006, 08:29 PM
When I got my first pup, the breeder (byb, unfortunately) didn't educate me at all. Of course, if I had done my research, and I thought I'd done a lot, I would have never dealt with her. Anyway, my second pup came from a lovely woman who shows in all the Cavalier and AKC competitions. She discussed knee, eye and MVD issues, and actually paid half Cosmo's patella surgery when he was three. She was very surprised and disappointed because she had to pull the sire and dam from her breeding program, even though they both had won many competitions.

I flew in and spent an entire day with Cappy's breeder. She gave me a thorough education on health issues, competition, rescue and puppy issues. She has one dog with SM and said that no one she deals with had ever heard about it. She had to do a lot of research on her own in order to get the correct diagnosis. I'd never heard of SM until then. I still keep in contact with her. She sends me updates on health clearances/certificates for Cappy's mom and dad (eyes, heart, etc.) when they're evaluated at shows. I also seek her advice on rescue issues since she's been involved for many, many years, compared to my six months.

20th December 2006, 03:00 AM
Cripes, no I didn't go up to the girl and say "Hey, cute dog, shame about the health issues." I cooed over the puppy, said what great pets they are, told her about my pair, asked about how old the pup was etc- and then just as conversation was about to finish, it struck me I should be responsible and check she knew something... and so on.

My own personal philosophy is to see every day with my dogs as a gift. I know Cavs have serious health issues. However, I have now had Holly for nearly 3 and a half years- that's the longest anyone in my family has kept a dog, mainly thanks to the road, but dogs can die for reasons not related to MVD or SM- you could do all the checks for those conditions, and still tragically lose even a young dog to something completely different.

So I do my best to prepare for the future by getting the best insurance I can (heck, I'd switch or pay more if I thought I could get better), watch them carefully (but not obsessively) for sinister symptoms, and take every day as it comes. Sure, there's no guarantees- but isn't that true for all of us? It's the same for ourselves, for our own lives; ditto for children; obviously ditto for pets.