View Full Version : To Cav Or Not To Cav

29th December 2007, 06:17 AM
So, I've been lurking for a long time on this forum, and I've been considering posting for about a week now. Forgive me if this post seems to meander a little bit; I just have so many things that I want to say.

Basically, my situation is this: I'm currently in law school in Los Angeles with a couple of years left before I get out. I'm hoping to get a dog in the future, but not in the immediate future.

Quite a while ago, when I was searching for information about dog breeds, I came across the Cavalier. Beyond just being some of the most beautiful dogs ever, they appealed to me for a number of reasons. (1) they are (usually) ultra friendly companion dogs. This is the thing I've wanted first and foremost, but (as I'll mention later) may be the source of my problems. I love that most want nothing more than to follow their "person" around and get love or cuddle. (2) they're small enough to still be a good lap dog without being so small they look silly (i don't want a purse dog!) (3) they aren't, on the whole, a yippy breed. (4) they seem fairly trainable to a basic level at least.

Before I go on, let me mention that I've read all of the stickied posts by Karlin. These have been highly helpful, and far better than the pieces of information I was previously able to put together from around the internet. Feel free to emphasize any points made there, but I just wanted to make it clear that I'm trying to approach this with that information in mind.

Anyway, my problem is this: when I get out of school, I'll have to work a lot of hours. I'm very worried about separation anxiety. The last thing I'd ever want to do is be in a situation where my dog was unhappy. I'll likely be able to afford dog daycare or a daily walk on weekdays, but I don't know how far this goes toward solving the problem. If I were to get a dog, I would definitely be willing to spend time so that it was not otherwise neglected (grooming, general loving, taking daily walks, etc), but it is unlikely that I can solve the problem of having to work long hours.

So I really have two questions to start:

1. Would it be possible in this situation to get a cavalier? If it makes a difference, I think that I'd be perfectly happy raising a puppy (though my last year of law school would be the only real time for me to do this for a while) or getting a lower maintenance rescue cavalier.

2. If it would be a mistake to get a cavalier because of how much being apart would hurt it, can you suggest any other breeds that might fit the things that I like about cavs? I think part of my problem is maybe that I want incompatable things... a dog that always wants to be there with me, snuggling, etc. when i'm around but who isn't unhappy when I'm not.

I have a lot of time before this is a real decision to make, but I wanted to make sure that when I do make the decision it's the right one -- both for me and my dog.

I know that's a lot to read, but I'd be very grateful for whatever help people can provide. It's impressed me how much cavalier owners love their dogs, and it's made me want one even more.

Thanks in advance.

29th December 2007, 06:33 AM
Are you going to be opening your own practice where you might be able to take the dog with you to the office?

29th December 2007, 09:26 AM
1. Would it be possible in this situation to get a cavalier? If it makes a difference, I think that I'd be perfectly happy raising a puppy (though my last year of law school would be the only real time for me to do this for a while) or getting a lower maintenance rescue cavalier.

Smart of you to think about all of this in advance. Honestly, having been a Los Angeles lawyer in my misbegotten youth, I'd have to say that I doubt that you'll have much time-between commuting and working unpredictable hours, you won't see your dog much. As far as getting the dog while you're in the last year of school, that's fine right now, but during the summer, when you're taking bar review and studying for the bar, you won't have a moment left over (I remember a summer of eating nothing but quesadillas because they only took a minute to make), and then once it's over, you'll probably need to take a little time off before you start to work.

I hate to say it, but I'd recommend waiting a bit and finding out what your work routine will be like before getting a dog. Whatever you decide, good luck with law school!

Bruce H
29th December 2007, 10:52 AM
Let me start by saying that you are the type of first time (or any time) Cavalier person responsible breeders dream about! You have done the research and you know about the breed. You are asking the hard questions that show that you have the best interest of the breed in mind and would totally love the dog you get.

Here's the hard part. Given your potential schedule, I would have to say to hold off until you know how work is going to go, what kind of hours you will have, etc., etc. Wait til you have been working for a while. Sure you can have a dog walker come by a 2 or 3 times a day, but if the dog sees the dogwalker more than you, who does the dog think is its person?

As far as other breeds, I just don't know. Dogs in general are such social animals. I'll throw this out just because I can't imagine a house without a pet: maybe a cat is a good choice if you're like me and hate coming home to an empty house. Then when the time is right, get a Cavalier. I have always had a cat (still do) and they seem a lot more independent. My cat gets along very well with my dogs and I know there are a lot of people here who have both cats and dogs.

Good luck in whatever decision you make.

29th December 2007, 01:46 PM

I went to law school so I have a sense of what you're going through! With that in mind, I would say to hold off on getting the Cavalier until you know what your work situation will be like, UNLESS you know you'll have someone at home who could be with the dog when you are not home, who you can count on.

It was in law school too that I fell in love with Cavaliers! But I got a cat instead (her name is Lex - Latin for Law). She never misses me when I'm gone but will purr when I return. A Cavalier will have definite separation anxiety.

It's a hard decision though I know, so I wish you luck. Definitely hire a dog walker or have someone come visit while you're working if you do get a Cavalier.

(Luckily, I'm not practicing law now and live 5 minutes from work so I can visit Lucky at lunch time and work from home a lot of the time).

Good Luck!

Re: Other breeds: MY sister has a rescue Lhasa Apso named Julie. She is a very independant soul! My sister has been doing a lot of research because we recently rescued Julie from a family member. LUcky is ultra-clingy, little snuggle bug. Typical Cavalier. Julie is not. She's very sweet in her own way, but also quite independant, and my sister was telling me yesterday that some of the research and info that she's gotten from her Lhasa board is that Lhasa's are very independent, unlike other breeds of dogs, and even Shih Tzu's even though they look like them. You might want to research them a bit. You can always get a Cavalier sister or brother in the future when you have more time and they'll keep each other company too. Our Julie does great with other dogs.

29th December 2007, 02:18 PM
Great for you for doing all that research and caring! Everyone added great advice above and I just wanted to add a funny tidbit.... My dogs are my STALKERS! They are like little shadows! It was cute at first, but being home with them and the kids all day, there are times when I need some alone time. Low and behold though, they follow me upstairs and sit on my lap, at my feet, etc. It's funny though, but in your situation I think you'll love it! :)

29th December 2007, 07:45 PM
Not being in law myself, the members who are experienced with that line of work have much better answers - but I DATED someone who was a fledging lawyer and much of his work he did at home. He didn't have a dog but he had a VERY clingy parrot (a cockatoo no less) who was perfectly content to sit on the couch with him or on the back of his chair while he read and worked at home.

I know my cavalier is a wonderful work buddy when I do my overtime outside the office because (even as a puppy) he is so calm and so clingy he will lay on my lap and cuddle with me while I"m on the computer.

I work 8 hour days M-F but I live very close to my office and sometimes come home to eat lunch with Franklin or take him on a little walk during the day. This is not something I do all the time, however, and hes never seemed to have any problem being home alone when I work, as long as I'm available for cuddles and a nice brisk walk in the evening. Then again, when I'm home - I'm all about my baby! Nearly my entire at home life revolves around spoiling him so that might make up for my full time job :rolleyes:

Maybe because hes a puppy he could grow up and be accustomed to a working owner or maybe I just lucked out but my baby is as clingy and stalkery as they come and has never had any problems with separation anxiety (heres crossing my fingers!! :xfngr:)

30th December 2007, 01:39 AM
As others have said it is great that you are thinking all these things through carefully in advance. :)

I'd side with Bruce on this one as he makes the points I'd make if I were talking to you about a rescue dog. I'd be asking if this or the near future is the right time for either you or a dog (even independent breeds need people there -- they are still social animals -- so I don't think the answer would vary much regardless of breed).

It took me a long time in my own life and career to be able to offer a decent life to a dog (and vice versa!). When I finally was at the point where I owned my own house and not renting, I was ready to get my own pets. But I knew there was no way I would be around enough for a dog. I also love cats so I got two cats. It was four more years before I finally felt ready financially, and willing to make major changes to my work and personal life, to get a dog.

Owning a dog is extremely rewarding but also time-consuming. Remember that while it is lovely to have the dog there when you come home, if you are young and have a social life, a dog is not going to fit into it, for most people living on their own. You can't just go out for the evening or stay out late at a party or spur of the moment decide to grab a meal with friends. You have to go home and walk the dog (this is still an occasional issue when I am with friends -- I live alone and so therefore I HAVE to go home and sort the dogs; I can;t just postpone it because I'm having a good time and everyone else is going out to dinner). During most of my 30s I would have been way too active with a normal social life with friends to have ever managed a dog and given it any quality of life.

But my social life and that of many of my friends has changed significantly. Lots of my friends are married with young families, or are single and homebodies. A lot of us have dogs. We all look forward to getting home and having an evening in. We can give a lot of time to dogs. Also, I work as a journalist and do a lot of travelling, but had to make a conscious decision before getting my first cavalier that I would cut way back on work travel. I still travel a fair bit but nothing like before and I also have an excellent home boarding or kennel situation but this is a significant expense for me when I am away. On the other hand I also mostly work from home so the dogs get me most every day. I am established enough that I can also pick what I want to attend for work -- if my work required me to do things, work late, etc, I would not be able to manage a dog.

There's a lot to weigh up, and answers will vary from individual to individual. The key things are: are you ready yet to give up that much of your social and personal life; can you work from home some of the time; can your job dictate that you work late/extra hours (if so then owning a dog is almost definitely out if you don't have a partner who can equally mind the dog -- it is much like having a child. You probably cannot say to your boss, 'sorry I can't stay late on that crucial cases as I have to go home and feed and walk my dog').

Ths is a good set of questions from one of my favourite sites, diamondsintheruff.com:

Here are ten questions to help you decide if you're really ready for the responsiblities of dog ownership:

1. Do I have enough time for a pet? Daily care includes affection, grooming, feeding, training and exercising.

2. Do I have adequate space and housing area (including a secure yard) for a dog?

3. Can I afford veterinary care, licensing, food, training and grooming costs? This can run up to thousands of dollars a year.

4. What would I do with my dog when I go on vacation or have to travel for my job?

5. Am I willing to obey community laws concerning animals?

6. Am I willing to be patient in training and housebreaking?

7. Can I deal with my favorite shoes being mauled, my furniture being chewed and all of the messes and accidents pets have?

8. Are my children responsible enough to help care for the dog? Will they be gentle with it and treat it well?

9. What happens if I move? Am I willing to deal with the frustrations of finding Bowser-friendly housing?

10. Am I willing to make a commitment to this dog for its entire life? Have I ever made a commitment that spans 15 years or more?

This is also a good 'am I ready' quiz:


30th December 2007, 02:57 AM
When we decided to have a cavalier we did a lot of research, we went to the library to get loads of books on dogs and just on cavs, regarding their health, their food and general well being, we were even luck to have a good vet down the road from us. I already knew some stuff through being brought up with dogs when i was little but i still wanting to know more about cavs. Luckliy our neighbour has a cav and gave us the number of their breeder. We phoned and right away we kept in contact all the time even to this day. Even when we seen the pups we were shown the parents as well, couldnt have picked a better breeder. We knew when we brought this wee pup home she would change our lifes totally. We take her out for walks in the morning and an hour before she goes to bed, and plays in between times, i think thats all part of the bonding process with a dog and its owner. She gets all the love and attention from all three of us. From my experience and my neighbours they are just like babies. When you have a dog in your life you cant just switch off, they need care, love and attention just like us. I honestly dont think i could own a cav if i was working full time plus thank goodness my partner has his own business which he works from home, so there is always at least one of us in the house for candi. It's a big responsibility taken on a dog but what they give you in return is a million times more than what you give them. I can honestly say all three of us i've fallen in love with her. Even when we first viewed her i couldn't stop thinking about her. All i would say is to be patience and you'll know when the time is right to have a pup.

30th December 2007, 05:51 AM
Zoraster, I too am most impressed with the way you are approaching this.

From what you say of your schedule, I am also thinking that perhaps it would be better for you to wait up a bit, until you are working & really know just how much time you will have, or not have.

Personally, I think it is a myth that there are certain breeds of dogs that are happy on their own. Dog are very sociable creatures and they were designed to be part of the pack. Sure, there are dogs that perhaps tolerate being outside all day, better than another breed, but do I think that dog would not be happier if he could be laying at the feet of his master or mistress? Nope! BTW, I had a Great Dane that was literally a lap dog. I've now got flattened legs as proof ;)

As to the Cavalier as a breed for a busy person. I adore my guys, but there are a few things that I had to take a bit of getting used to when we first got them, and I think they are worth knowing about.

You will never be able to wear a black suit. That fine hair just gets on everything. The other day I wore a brand new pair of navy trousers to a party. I got dressed in a room where the dogs were not & I made sure to get out the door before they could jump on me. And yet, when I looked down, I was covered in white hair. It just seems to float around in the air.

Despite having read that Cavaliers require little grooming... I think that is a bit of a fib! :rolleyes: To keep their hair down in the house, to keep dreaklocks at bay, I find I need to groom my guys twice daily. Also, maybe because my boys are intact, I find I also have to bath them every fortnight, otherwise they start to get a bit boy-stinkey. I vaccum the floors & furniture 2 - 3 times weekly.

Then there are the little accidents that on a short haired dog is a non event, but is a real pain on a long haired breed. Ears get draped in food & other mucky things, so they need brushing & cleaning, or at least wrapped in snoods at meal times. If they get thr runs, then you are looking at giving them a bath, somthing that I have had to do at midnight or 5 in the morning.

I am not trying to talk you out of a Cavalier. I am now probably a Cavalier person for life. But I do admit I went through a few weeks of shock, because nobody had told me about these things.

I don't know much about cats, and maybe the cat people on the forum will stone me, but I always thought cats were more aloof & independent than dogs, and I do wonder if a cat would perhaps be a better pet for you at this part of your life.

I could not imagine coming home to an empty house, so you definitely have got to have something gorgeous to come home to. :)

Anyway, kudos to you for asking the hard questions & doing your research.

8th January 2008, 07:29 AM
I'd like to thank everyone for their very thorough responses.

I wasn't actually intending on getting a cavalier in the near future, but I brought up my 3rd year as perhaps the best time that I could actually raise a puppy rather than potentially rescue a lower maintanence adult.

I like the suggestion of a cat, by the way. Having only owned dogs in the past (but never cavaliers), the idea of a cat wasn't at the forefront of my mind. I quite like cats, but I like them in a very different way than I do dogs -- probably one of the reasons why a cat would at this moment be more suited to my lifestyle. That said, I think I'll pass on a cat at the moment.

In response to the suggestion about working from home: for better or worse, that's not the career path I'm planning on taking.

About place: although I'm going to school in LA, I've been toying with the idea of returning home to Dallas after I'm done. This would be a more dog friendly place to live. (alternatively, i'm also considering going back to england [where i went to university], but I wouldn't even consider getting a dog before making that choice. it just wouldn't be fair).

Anyway, thank you all again for your comments. I think it's confirmed what I think I knew in the back of my mind: getting my cavalier is probably a number of years and probably a life-change away (for example, sharing a household with a wife/girlfriend... if only I can convince them that cavaliers are a better choice than children ;) ). Still, as far away as that may be, I enjoy checking this forum a lot... I need something to do during class after all!

PS. A small question: I grew up raising two basset hounds. They were poop creating machines. I of course was tasked with removing that, and although worth it, it wasn't the best part of owning dogs. My hope is that a dog that weighs 15 pounds creates significantly less than my dogs that weighed 60 pounds. Does that bear out?

8th January 2008, 08:09 AM
My hope is that a dog that weighs 15 pounds creates significantly less than my dogs that weighed 60 pounds. Does that bear out?

Small dog, small poops! 2-5 cocktail-sausage size poops, 2-4 times a day.

Bruce H
8th January 2008, 11:55 AM
The type of food you feed also makes a difference. A high quality food will produce less poop than a low quality food with a lot of fillers.

Daisy's Mom
8th January 2008, 02:23 PM

I enjoyed reading your post and, like others have said, really applaud your level of forethought and research about getting a Cavalier. You sound exactly like me in the years before getting Daisy.

I thought I'd just chime in here a little late because I was in a similar situation as you for many, many years. I grew up with small housedogs who I just loved to distraction, so when I grew up and moved away, I had dog-separation anxiety myself. I waited through undergrad, working as a CPA for 3 years (lots of hours), the MBA program (2 yrs), PH.D. program (5 years), working toward tenure (a total of 10 years), having two babies, and then that summer after I made tenure, I FINALLY got my Cavalier because the time was FINALLY right! My kids were finally old enough to be kind to a dog, I didn't have to worry so much about "face-time" at the office, and I felt like I had everything in place. So believe me, I totally feel for you with the waiting!

We got Daisy in July, 2006 and it has been great! I would characterize her as being a little more independent than the average Cavalier. The breeder said she was definitely the leader of her litter -- the first to walk, eat solid food, play, run, everything. So I think that's also a sign of her higher-than-average level of independence. In fact, when we went to pick her up at the breeder's, she was friendly, but not overly clingy with us. She would come up to us for a few minutes and then wander off and lay down by herself. It kind of concerned me at the time, but given that she is alone for several hours several days a week, it's probably a blessing. So when you do get a Cavalier, maybe that is something to keep in mind.

We do leave her at home most weekdays for about 6-7 hours, and she seems absolutely fine with it. In fact, when I get home and go in and open her crate, she usually just kind of lays there and looks at me for a while, stretches, and then slowly meanders out after a few minutes. I'm more excited to see her than she is to see me! On days when I work at home, she generally just sleeps all day anyway. She follows me around the house a lot in the evenings and is the typical velcro dog, but not usually during the day. Sometimes I think she is thinking "Can't you all just leave and let me get my big nap in already?"

I'm sure you will be a great Cavalier owner when you decide your timing is right. But I know how tough waiting on that "right time" is! (BTW, I would have probably gotten a cat but I'm allergic to them, so that wasn't an option. I had cats growing up, and then suddenly when I was about 15, whammo, I started breaking out in hives and having trouble breathing when I was around them. That was really hard on both me and my cat at the time!)

I read this board for probably a year before we got Daisy, and I went to every dog show within a reasonable driving distance to get my Cavalier fix. So you can imagine how excited I was to bring Daisy home!

Good luck to you in your final year of law school and in your first job! Sorry I've blathered on so long!

8th January 2008, 02:57 PM
if we are talking about cavalier fixes

i have been using this little guy to get mine :D

8th January 2008, 03:02 PM
Your poop question made me laugh. I joke about this with my lab-owning friends when we go on walks. I can collect four cavaliers' poops in a single nappy sack (diaper bag), tie it up and toss it in the trash when on walks. Meanwhile my friend is using big plastic bags. I walk an elderly neighbour's old collie every week and I'd say one of his poops is typically larger than the four cavaliers put together. As Bruce says, the better the food the more compact and less unpleasant the poops, too. Feeding raw also produces very small poops.

8th January 2008, 11:57 PM
It sounds like you've gotten all the answers to the questions in this post. However, I do want to add my two cents to the comment you've made about a "lower maintenance rescue." While rescuing an adult dog means you don't have to live through the many challenging puppy stages, there are definitely challenges to adult rescues that can be just as--if not more--challenging as a puppy. If you do seriously consider rescuing a dog (even if it's years in the future!), you'll want to research the different issues one faces with a rescued dog.

9th January 2008, 07:38 AM
well, part of the benefit to a rescue dog is that you know to at least some small degree what you're getting. so while I agree that rescue dogs may even in general be more work in some ways than a normal puppy, I'd be inclined to try and find one that wasn't beyond my capabilities.

Those who take in the "real" rescue dogs -- those with big personality problems, serious health problems, etc. have all my respect. These are certainly the dogs that most need rescuing. But as someone who's new to the breed and even down the line won't have mounds of time, I'm unlikely to focus my search on that type of dog.

Anyway, I certainly appreciate that concern, and it's occured to me. But that's kind of why I tried to differentiate in the first place. I don't want it to sound like I expect rescuing to just be a breeze or somehow skipping all the bad puppy bits and getting only the good, well-behaved dog parts (though I will say that one of the benefits to a cavalier is that they seem to stay puppy cute their whole lives. while a golden may be an adorable fluff ball at 3 months, he's still going to be one big ol' dog at 3 years).

12th January 2008, 02:53 PM
To add an opposing view from most others who have posted -

I got a Cavalier puppy 3 weeks after graduating from law school and 1 week after getting married (she was our "gift" to each other for the wedding). 3 days after picking up Madison at the breeders our of town, my husband and I started Bar Review. (I'm sure you've heard about Bar Review by now.)

Having Maddy while in Bar Review was great. We'd get up in the morning, play with her till class, leave her in her play-pen area while we went to class for 4 hours, return around lunchtime for the rest of the day to study and play with our puppy. She really was such a joy to have around - lightening the mood with some silly puppy antics during the stressful 2 months of studying for the bar. She was great! We had so much time to bond with her while she was young; we think it really helped solidify our relationship with her.

After taking the Bar exam, my husband and I went on our honeymoon. Madison stayed at the in-laws (his parents) during our vacation. They have a dog too so it was great socialization for her.

After the honeymoon, we packed up and moved from the midwest to Washington D.C. (we had jobs lined up out here before graduation). Maddy was great during the move - just happy to be with us no matter where we were.

My husband and I are both practicing attorneys. We work in law firms - not in our home - and are gone for about 10 hours a day (sometimes more). Madison is now almost 10 months old. So far, she's done great with our schedule because she knows what to expect; she gets in the schedule herself and seems just fine with it all. We play with her every morning and walk her in the evenings (usually 45 min). On the weekends, we do almost everything with her - take her for long walks, to parks, with us when we run errands, etc. Where we live is extremely dog friendly (the reason we moved here) so we can even take her into local restaurants during happy hours, etc.

One KEY thing that has made Madison a wonderful pet for us is that she is litterbox trained. She will use her litterbox during the day to potty if we aren't home to take her out. It is ideal for us! Because we knew that we'd be working long days when we were researching to adopt a Cavalier, we worked hard to find a reputable AKC breeder who litterbox trained the puppies. If you want more info about our wonderful breeder, send me a "Private Message" through this board.

We LOVE having a dog (as you can imagine from my participation on this board) and absolutely adore Madison. I can easily say that, besides my husband, she is my best friend. She really is a mommy's girl, which has made my husband eager to get boy Cavalier. As you can see, we're hooked on Maddy and the breed! She's the light of our lives!:paw: