Margaret C

The Cavalier Collection Scheme is changing. UK Owners, please read.

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This is a blog on what can be a sensitive and very emotive subject for the owner of a much loved dog.

It is in the nature of all of us to avoid thinking about situations that will hurt and grieve us, but I hope that UK cavalier owners will just take a little time to read this.

Cavaliers as a breed have a great many health problems, and researchers and responsible breeders are struggling to give puppies that are yet to be born the chance of a pain free future.

Many cavalier owners have asked what they can do to help, and this blog is about a very important contribution that can be made by those that feel able to do so.

Researchers need adult cavalier cell tissue to be able to find the cause of the health problems that are so common in our breed, and so I would like to ask you to think whether you would feel able to volunteer your little dog for postmortem when he or she dies.

There are, I know, many owners that like to bury their pets in the garden, and they would not feel right giving up their cavalier to the scheme, but there will be others that feel donation would mean something positive comes out of a really sad event.

Since the Scheme started in 2007 we have organised the delivery of twenty deceased cavaliers for postmortem and the donation of tissue for research.
The scheme was originally local to Cambridge and the collection was done by a pet taxi.
When the original ten dogs requested had been collected, I was asked if I could find SM confirmed cavaliers for Professor Nick Jeffery's spinal cord studies.

Few cavaliers had been MRI'd at that time, so this was a long term project, in fact it has just been completed. We widened our area to take in the whole of the UK ( two dogs were postmortemed in Scotland ) and the cavaliers were collected by me, delivered by volunteers, or in one or two cases taken in by their brave owners.

Over the years more specialists have asked to be included, Dr Clare Rusbridge has tissue samples for the genome studies, Professor Brendan Corcoran is supplied with heart valves, Dr Penny Watson at Cambridge has pancreatic tissue.

On dying, one little dog can give such a gift for life.

There is a continuing need for cavalier samples. Tania Ledger, with her superb organisation skills, is going to join me and we will be extending the Collection to accept any cavalier over 3 months, scanned or unscanned, SM affected or not.

The Scheme will continue to pay for the collection, post mortem and individual cremation of the pets donated, and the ashes will be returned to the owner.

For list members overseas who have asked if they can help, we are very grateful but there are great difficulties in extending the scheme to other countries. We are, however, looking to see whether there is a way of collecting tissue samples for the genome study from cavaliers in Canada and America.

We will be starting a new fundraising drive in the New Year and I hope that those who cannot bring themselves to volunteer their pets may feel they can help in other ways.

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Updated 25th November 2010 at 08:24 PM by Margaret C



  1. Nicki's Avatar
    Thank you for posting this Margaret - I'm pleased that the scheme is continuing and indeed being extended - I know how valuable this is for research and the future health of our beloved breed.

    Although a very difficult and sad thing to do at the time, it is very comforting afterwards to know that the loss of your treasured companion was not in vain, and that they are contributing in such an important way.

    Margaret's careful management of the scheme and sensitive and caring approach made it easier to bear - and her support was invaluable

    Ideally it helps if you can register your dog in advance, this is something we all need to think carefully about, sadly sometimes things happen and although we all like to think that our little ones will go on forever, sadly this is not the case and as I can personally testify, illness can take them suddenly at any age.

    PLEASE help by registering your dog for the scheme - it is still possible to change your mind if you do feel that you really cannot go ahead at the time.