How did we start?
We, that is Lesley and Steve Hirstwood have owned, loved shown and bred Cavalier King Charles Spaniels since buying our first two Tri Colours in 1990 from Maureen Downton of the Pennreen affix. Nikita - Pennreen Ernestine at Quintrelle and her litter mate Rosie - Pennreen Estrellita at Quintrelle. Primarily bought as pets we walked the girls miles, had great fun training them then I , Lesley was persuaded to enter them in a show. Filled with dread I agreed to do it so I entered them and showed them at the North Devon Canine Association open show in the Barnstaple Pannier Market. How thrilled I was to have both girls placed with Nikita taking a second by beating the friend that persuaded me to enter in the first place! Needless to say I got hooked on showing and soon wanted a pup of my own breeding to show so the new hobby of breeding began!
We did not have litters every year but our number of dogs crept from 2 to the maximum of 9 over the next 15 years. At one point we inherited Ruby Shoos - Chrisandawn Lady In Red when my friend Christine of Chrisandawn Cavaliers passed away, Shoos went on to become my foundation whole colour bitch, the mother of Mary Scarlett and grandmother to Lanina and Pickle.
Where and how do we live?
A good question! We live in a 200 year old cottage with a fairly large garden in the beautiful South West, North Devon to be exact. We are so blessed as we are only a 5 mile drive to the most glorious dog friendly beaches in the country, a ten minute walk to open country side, the Tarka Trail and a good assortment of dog friendly pups and cafes, it doesn’t get much better!
My job is working part time for Kensmith Canine Supplies so I am fortunate that when we have a puppy I can take it work with me to train and socialise it , our latest youngster Suki is regularly seen in her little basket next to the cash till when we do a trade stand at the dog shows!
Making the most of our surroundings is easy, in good weather we often take the dogs out riding in baskets on the bikes, they are trained early and harnessed in. We also take then in the kayak but their favourite past time is camping or caravanning, they just love the big outdoors and the cosy bed they share with us at night!
So why the change?
Despite health testing and selective breeding it became apparent to us over the years that much as we love Cavaliers there were just too many pitfalls. In hind sight looking back as long ago as 1990 we now know that Rosie had “ itchy neck syndrom” which we now all recognise as Syringio - but 20 years ago no body knew! As the Cavaliers died off - some from old age others not so old I began looking at other breeds. Having weighed up all the pros and cons it was a very east choice to ask for a Tibetan Spaniel. The size was perfect, cheeky little characters with a loving but aloof nature and best of all minimal health problems, It was a no brainer, we just had to change!
Now, it is 2015 and we have just two retired Cavaliers plus one Tibetan Spaniel but we are looking towards the future with great optimism for more fun, frolics and joy than we could ever have dreamed possible.
Daisy, Stella, Buffy and Ellie Mae
Maddison , Stella, Lanina and Ruby Shoos