An acquaintance that used to live in my neighborhood e-mailed me today in search of advice about buying a Cavalier from the same breeder I used to purchase Kingston. She said she has contacted them already, and just wanted to see if I was still happy with Kingston's health, etc. Do you think I gave her good advice? Is there anything you would have added? Here is what I wrote in response:
It's nice to hear from you! I hope you and your husband are enjoying your new home. Kingston is doing so great and is truly the joy of our lives. As he is my first Cavalier, it has definitely been a learning experience. I highly recommend you go to the Cavalier Talk website (www.cavaliertalk.com) and look at what people have to say about the breed. Cavalier Talk is basically a forum for Cavalier owners that offers a wealth of information, including a thread called "buying and preparing for your cavalier."
Since you asked about Kingston's health I'm assuming you have read up on the serious conditions Cavaliers are prone to--such as Mitral Valve Disease and Syringomyelia. It's very uncommon for Cavaliers to exhibit signs of these diseases during the first few years of their lives. Kingston is perfectly fine right now, but I don't know what to expect for the future. As I said, it has been a learning experience and the next time I get a Cavalier I will definitely feel more prepared. I would still recommend [Breeder's name here], however you need to ask them to show you health certificates for the puppy's parents that prove they have been tested for MVD within the past year and are proven to be heart-clear. This is something I failed to do, out of ignorance, when I was purchasing Kingston. Also, ask them about any signs of syringomyelia in the puppy's lineage. Any good breeder will be open and honest about these conditions, and will be striving to rid the diseases from the breed by only mating healthy dogs. Again, I encourage you to go to Cavalier Talk and read postings from owners whose dogs currently suffer or have died as a result of these problems. On the other hand, you will find owners who purchased from good breeders and now have Cavs that are 14-15 years old!
Finally, the breeder should allow you to look at their kennels and to see the parents of the puppy you're thinking about buying. If they are reluctant to do so, I would be very suspicious. Something else to consider is that when you get your Cav puppy, it is probably going to become VERY attached to you. This is a common trait among Cavs--they are LOVE SPONGES. They want to be near you at all times and will be very hurt if you leave them alone for long periods of time. Make sure you will be able to accomodate your lifestyle to fit his/her needs. For instance, if I'm going to be away from home for more than 5 or 6 hours I take Kingston to daycare so he can play outside all day and socialize with other animals.
I'm sorry for throwing all this information at you. I definitely don't want you to be overwhelmed and think owning a Cavalier is too much trouble. No matter what happens, I will never regret having Kingston in my life and every Cavalier owner I know would say the same thing about their own Cavs. They are the most special little dogs and will give you immense loyalty and happiness. Kingston gives me a reason to smile every single day. I hope things work out for you!
Feel free to call me anytime with whatever questions you might have.
Best of luck!