I've been spending the last few months researching dogs, and I've narrowed my potential dogs down to either a Cavalier, a Sheltie, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, or a Norfolk Terrier...and honestly, the Cavalier is THE perfect dog for me. Temperament, size, temperament, exercise needs, looks, temperament... But of course there had to be a catch, right? Nothing's perfect. It would be my first dog - my family had a dalmatian when I was younger, but I never helped take care of him and we had to put him to sleep when I was 10 and he was 13 because he had cancer and arthritis. And I'm no stranger to taking care of ill pets. One of my cats has been diabetic for the last six years, and needs feedings every four hours, insulin shots every twelve hours, and regular blood sugar testing. My other cat suffers from severe arthritis and an allergy to practically everything. But a breed with so many severe genetic problems sends up little red flags for me, especially since the ones the Cav is affected by seem so hard to avoid. I'm very willing to look for a reputable breeder and minimize my dog's chances of being affected by SM/MVD. I guess what I'm looking for here is testimonials from you guys: what are the symptoms of these? How can they be treated? How expensive on average is it to treat for one dog? Do symptoms normally show up by a certain age? And what's it like to live with a dog who has SM/MVD?

I'm not looking for a young puppy, I want it to be at least six months old. I don't think it would be wise to jump right into having a dog for the first time and have to deal with the housebreaking, basic training, etc. So I want an older puppy, maybe even a young adult, I'm not picky about that. Do you guys have any breeder recommendations in California? I found this woman,

[ admin note: hi I removed the link -- if you check the 'Getting Started section, I don't allow direct links to breeders for this kind of discussion or naming them -- but I am always concerned if breeder isn;t openly diiscussing the testing they do and at this time they really must be MRIing. If people want they can PM you to get the link and offer an opinion] ,

and she seems reputable - I mean, if anyone is, she's got to be, right? She doesn't say anything about MRIing her dogs for SM, though, and according to cavalierhealth.org, OFA and CHIC aren't really reliable or trustworthy, so I'm a little concerned. Also, what about the breeders listed on ckcsc.org? Would they be good people to contact?

Sorry about the long post, I have a lot of questions. My first priority is having a healthy dog, and there's so much to consider with this breed that it's a little intimidating.