Hugs for Henry and I've been baking
This morning I was looking for our daughter Tilly and eventually found her lied alongside Henry in the back house. I thought what a lovely photo, as they were both lied length ways and Tilly was stroking Henry's head, it reminded me of me as a child. Many a time I was found in the dog bed with the dogs and another place after being told off, would be under the kitchen table telling a dog my woe. Sadly by the time I got the camera this morning, I missed that moment, but caught this one of the two of them.
Children do say such funny things. Tilly told me the other day, "I love you so much Mummy,one day I am going to marry you." I was just about to reply her, but she looked at me and said, " Mummy, I know you are married to Daddy, but when he dies, then I'm going to marry you." She then did her funny little laugh and skipped off, no doubt plotting Dad's demise. Lol
Today I have been baking as tonight is our son Bert's cricket awards night and they ask for parents to bring food and share.
Need to go shopping, but managed to put something together with what is in the cupboards without venturing to the shops, substituting walnuts for pecans in the Brownies and it works, of course I force myself to sample everything.
Naughty Henry did lick one of the Cheesy biscuits as I was brushing them with egg before sprinkling with cheese, but as they say, "What the eye don't see, the heart don't grieve."
I wonder if there will be an award for "Parent who baked beyond the call of duty for the cricket team" if there ain't, there should be. Lol
A wag and a trot down memory lane
The last photo below from the folder is me driving the carriage at Arlington Court in the late 80's and alongside me is sat ted. Yes, ted before he had a lot of work done, went off to Hollywood and became famous. ted and me had a lot of fun together and inevitably ted feel in love with me and wanted to take it that step further, but I had to tell him, "Your a stuffed toy mate, if you had not noticed, it ain't going to happen." Lol
Hope you realised I was only joking there, you will of had to see the film, "ted" to get the joke. The photo actually is a day at Arlington Court they did with a Teddy bear picnic theme and as it was so hot, Penny my Cavalier was not travelling with me, so someone produced a Teddy to keep me company. I took a lot of ribbing about this photo and I will tell you why.
Most weekends a lovely elderly local couple used to visit Arlington Court, as it has some beautiful walks around the property and their son, often accompanied them and he was a keen photographer. They would stop and have a chat and occasionally ride on the carriage and in passing conversation, they said they would get their son, to give us a photo of the carriage, as he often took photos of the carriage around the property, as did many people visiting the property.
A few weekends passed and their son appeared at the side of the carriage and handed me an envelope, saying a little shyly that there was a photo in the envelope "for you" and walked off before I could thank him even. Now I thought "for you" meant a photo of the carriage with the horses and the other person who worked as groom with me, he should of said, "a picture of you" rather than a picture "for you." I was a little busy with customers, so I put the envelope down on the sit beside me and Amanda who worked as groom, asked me what it was and I told her, "It's a photo of us with the carriage, lets get these people up to the carriage museum and then take a look at it, when we stop for lunch." So we went to have lunch, along with some of the stewards in the carriage museum and with a little excitement I opened the envelope to share what I thought was going to be a photo of the carriage and horses. When this photo appeared out of the envelope, we all went silent for a couple seconds and then they started teasing me.,"Looks like you got yourself an admirer Jane, maybe he's got a whole room of photos of you." One thought maybe he might even have a shrine to me. I learnt a valuable lesson, if someone hands you an envelope, before showing anyone else what's in that envelope take a look first, on your own. Lol
After all that self, self , self, I'm hopefully going to redeem myself with a little something I've been fiddling with. Best never to fiddle to much, so here it is,
At my knee
Please do not raise your hand, to break me to your demand
Gently place it on my head, and do not ask of me to beg
Do not tether me, let me be free, let me go and you will see,
the allegiance I shall give to thee, and eve, you shall find me at your knee.
When all of mankind leaves you in despair, a dog is a constant always there
Wagging their tail looking up at me, loyal as always at my knee
I beckon you upon my lap, up you come with an excited yap
Price for your devotion is my love, maybe there is a God, as I wonder, have you been sent from above
By Jane Howarth
Along with the couple photos of past dogs were also photos of my other love, horses. I've picked out some to share and a couple stories to accompany them.
First I'm going to pick out the photo of Bert who was a horse I looked after when I worked in Surrey. Bert came to the yard as a very nervous, leery 17.2hh four year old thoroughbred and I was given him to shape into a drag hunter for his owner Fred, who had eleven horses at livery in the yard. Bert turned slowly into a horse that could gallop and jump a hedge with ease and the photo of him is his owner Fred riding him to win the Mid Surrey Draghounds heavy weight division of the hunt race. Bert and I jumped our first hedge together and something I always wanted to do was ride around the Grand National fences and on Bert I got to do the next best thing to that and rode the Mid Surrey Draghound Hickstead lines and this poem sums up rather well, riding the Hickstead lines.
“And after this world’s travail, when you ride life’s final line,
Show the courage of a Dragman as you face your Life Divine,
Ride forth in Hickstead manner to your Maker’s great estates
As you jump the Stygian Waters and you ping the Pearly Gates.
On earth you've tasted Paradise; I speak not of cocaine
Nor of the false euphoria brought on by fine champagne,
But of the soaring ecstasy that’s only to be found
When you’re flying high and mounted, over Hickstead’s glorious ground.”
By Sir Edward Cazelet QC
The next photos I'm going to pick out, are the two of me competing on Lady. I had competed on horses in most disciplines and thought myself a competitive person and wanted to try my hand at racing, so rode a couple times point-to-point, which is amateur jump racing, but don't let the word amateur fool you, as this racing is as competitive as jump racing under rules.
It was the last time I rode in a race with Lady at Tiverton that my epiphany came. Knee high in mud and after a field of sixteen starting only three of us remained. Lady and me were way off the two in front of us (Lady should of not run really, because she had a flat action best suited to the top of the ground and it was a testament to her genuine nature, that she was still going) and I could of nursed her in for a third place, but she was tired and I did not have the heart to keep pushing her on, so pulled her up and realised I was not that competitive after all and what I enjoyed about horses was galloping and jumping, I did not have to have a prize at the end of it.
The last photo I'm going to mention is the one of my youngest brother Peter with our niece Sally on board Chutney a pony which we got as an unbroken six year old and turned into a very good jumping pony. This is my brother I blogged about in March 2013 when rattling my begging bowl as he completed the 6633 Ultra Marathon. In the photo he is, I think about 15 years old, as he is now 50 years old and Sally (my oldest brothers first born) is now 36 years old, married with two children. Time fly's and although Peter has a few wrinkles now and grey hair, he still could put most half his age to shame with his level of fitness.
The photos of horses and ponies below except for the one of Bert are horses and ponies that either my Mum owned or I owned.
The first one is a photo of old Chloe, clipped out for the summer. She was a Working Cocker Spaniel we had from a pup and before I started to compete on ponies, I used to drag her to horse shows and enter her in the family dog shows that often were held alongside the summer horse shows.
I don't think she enjoyed it much and would of much rather preferred to be home with her two terrier mates, Pepsi and Bubbles hunting rabbits.
The next photo is of Chloe's mates Pepsi and Bubbles (as a puppy). Bubbles we lost once for four days and we had given up hope, when she appeared covered in mud looking very skinny. We think she dug into a burrow and it may of collapsed behind her, and she had taken four days to dig herself out, whatever happened I think we were lucky to get her back.
A few days ago I had to venture into the loft looking for something and whilst looking through boxes I found a folder containing photos that I had forgot about. I was the sixth child of six and by the time I came along the home was a busy place, so I don't have many photos from my childhood and only a few exist of dogs that I was brought up with, but I have found a couple to share.
Next is a very special photo and I'm going to have to admit a mistake on a blog, I put our first Cavalier was called Ruby, which was a mistake, she was called Kerry. So here is the only photo I have of her. She was a lovely little girl and started my love of these little dogs.
Ruby the survivor, Mollie the brave and we transport our children back to the 1970's (before health and safety)
Last year Sue got in contact about Ruby who she had from Dolly's Cavapoo litter born 9th August 2010, at first it was to just tell me that Ruby was a lovely dog, but she had been ill with a stomach upset, which Sue at first thought she was getting over and asked me for any tips I might have on getting her back eating, but during correspondence, Ruby became very ill again and eventually was admitted to veterinary hospital and went to being critically ill and Sue even considered whether she should let her go, as she was concerned that she was suffering so, but Ruby pulled through and today I got an update, which as you will read is a bit of a double edged sword.
having read one of your recent blogs,I have to tell you that Ruby also has a heart murmur.Remember when she was so desparately ill last year,the vets picked up a murmur,which your vet thought could be because she was so ill.Well when she went for her recent booster,the vet confirmed that she has got a murmur.....the illness has changed her a lot,once a confident dog,now suspicious of strangers,and very protective of me and the house.Understandable really.However,apart from a sensitive stomach,she is fully recovered,lively,playful ,and full of energy.,and very loved by all that know her....I am thankful that I persevered with her treatment at langford hospital,she is the only dog that survived from probably being poisoned,not confirmed,but eight dogs died after walking in a local field,here in Frome.I still enjoy your blogs,your love of dogs matches mine,and I wish you well with your forthcoming litters in 2015....
Best wishes ,sue leal.ps.ruby was born in august,2010 ,her mum was Dolly and Rollo her dad.I was the lady that looked after dogs in my home.
I have included three links below from the Frome Standard which are articles wrote at the time about dogs mysteriously being taken ill with the same symptoms and dying after walking in a certain area.
Ruby is a lucky dog, with all the other dogs at the time taken ill dying, she must be a fighter. The double edge sword though is, as you might of guessed, she has a heart murmur. This murmur was first heard when she was very ill and was thought to maybe because she was so ill (often heart murmurs occur when the body is put under severe stress) and I'm inclined to suspect that being so ill may be still the cause of onset and if the murmur is from the mitrial valve not closing flush and is MVD, with Mum being seven without MVD onset and her Dad, Rollo being eight and in full health, this onset at the age of four may be caused by her being critically ill and having a lot of stress on the heart, so hopefully this may mean any further progression, with also taking into consideration her parents health history will be very slow. Thanks Sue for updating me on Ruby, really glad to know she has done so well, after being so poorly.
Next tonight to say, "Hello !" is Mollie, who is from Smudge's litter born this year on the 24th February. Thanks Rhian for letting me know how brave Mollie was with all the fireworks going off, I'm sure Bobbie being so good also helped her to not be worried about it all, along with your calm manner as well.
Hi there Jane
I just had to send you an email to let you know how Mollie coped with the fireworks last night. She didn't just cope she was amazing. We made sure we were home with her and Bobbie before it got dark, but to be honest we were surplus to requirements!!!! Bobbie didn't hear anything (as he has gone quite deaf) and Mollie - well, what can we say. We tried to keep her in the house but she decided she wanted to go outside, and so we let her out expecting her to run straight back in when the bangs went off, but did she - like heck, she was standing out in the garden completely oblivious to all of the bangs and flashes etc going on around her. She went out at least four times and each time I went to check on her she was just walking around as if it was daytime and quiet. I wondered if her siblings were the same, would be interested in hearing how they coped. Have sent a couple of pics to show how stressed she was!!
She is still absolutely adorable and really wicked, her favourite game is bringing slippers or shoes from upstairs, and we find them all over the house. She still sleeps in her cage until around 7 30 when I let her out for a wee and then she runs upstairs to our bedroom and jumps on the bed, she then goes back to sleep for half an hour.
Love the photos from Halloween by the way. Also wanted to check with you when we start feeding adult dog food to Mollie, is it 12 months ? She is still on puppy food at the moment.
We are still reading your blogs and picking up tips and loving the photos of all of the other pups. Was interested in reading the blog regarding Alfie, from Millie's litter who is now over 5 years old, but he sounds as if it isn't having much of an effect on him and he is still enjoying chasing the rabbits.
Congratulations on the hula hooping Jane - well done.
All the best
Rhian Russ Bobbie and Mollie
I emailed Rhian back about the changing onto adult dog food, as I look to do this with a small/medium sized dog around 9 months old. I also thanked Rhian for the hula hooping congratulations (I recently learnt to hula hoop again, taught by my seven year old daughter) and told her that I also surprised our oldest daughter this summer, showing her I can still cartwheel and do handstands with the best of them. Thanks again Rhian for the sweet photos of Mollie and update on her.
This last week for some being Guy Fawkes aka Bonfire night will of been a nightmare if you have a dog that is frightened of fireworks. Living in a rural area, fireworks have never been an issue until a couple years ago our new neighbours (retired doctors) across the lane from us let off fireworks on Guy Fawkes night, luckily our dogs seem to be okay about it, barking at the first sudden unexpected bang and flash of light, but then not really concerned by it. We have shooting around us during the winter, sometimes twice a week, so I guess they are used to loud bangs from that.
Tonight we sort of had our own fireworks, taking the children back to my rather naughty childhood, running with my five siblings. Now anything I say from now on I must warn is dangerous to do and should only be carried out by an adult brought up in the 1970's. If a health and safety evangelist and lacking in a sense of humour, you best look away now.
Every Guy Fawkes night it seems to of become tradition to tell our children tales of our childhood experiences of Guy Fawkes night and the one tale that my children like me to repeat each year, is the year my Mum decided we had all been so naughty, we would not be going to any fireworks displays.
We had other plans though, if we could not go to the fire work display, then we would bring the firework display to us. Darkness fell and we soon got a little pile of stuff to burn erected, what we thought would be out of view of the house in the field. We were called for supper and then after supper, we had about an hour before Mum would wonder of our whereabouts. Now we had not got any fireworks, but we were to solve this problem, thanks to watching those Public Information films. We knew from Public Information films that aerosol cans blow up quite spectacularly especially the higher the alcohol content. See in the 1970's children did not realise these films were about safety, we thought they were like films, on what to do if you get bored, remember, we didn't have theme parks back then or the internet. Lol
Now to acquire aerosol cans. Trayne Farm where we lived was a farmhouse built into the hill, so the back of the house was below ground level, so we could get in the back of the house easily through a second ground window, by just being legged across the gully between the house and the field, out back of the house and we would land in Mum's and Dad's bedroom. Our Mum is one for airing the house, so unless minus temperatures, her bedroom window would be half open. That night I remember entering the second floor of our home like the secret service, adrenalin pumping. In the 70's woman really did use a lot of hairspray and my was that stuff really flammable then, my Mum's bedroom was like an Aladdin's cave of flammable aerosol cans. We managed to find a can for each of us to lob onto the bonfire, so left, with parents none the wiser. We got the bonfire alight and once burning well we decided that we would each take it in turn to run past and lob our can on to the fire. I would of been about seven at this time, being the youngest. In one hand I should not condone our actions, but on the other I must admit what fun we had that night, until the inevitable happened, Mum heard the bangs. Believe me the biggest risk we had not calculated for was our Mum finding out. Lol
Last weekend we took our children to Atherington village firework display which is a lovely community event and the children all go off together and the adults get to catch up with each other. Always laugh when the fireworks finish and you get a hub of people who rush to leave, like their life depends on it, we see the last firework as a chance to get back to catching up with old friends, you got to slow down when your in North Devon, else you will get indigestion. Any way lets get back to the job at hand. Tonight we took (as if in a time machine), our children back to my childhood and lit our bonfire and, lets not call it lobbing aerosol cans on a bonfire, but we let our children conduct a scientific experiment. What is more flammable de-icer or deodorant ? We used two half filled cans of de-icer and compared them to two nearly empty cans of Dove mens deodorant. I think deodorant won, just by the reaction the children made to the bangs and flashes of light. The dogs were present during this and seemed totally unimpressed by the going on's. I must stress ending this that throwing aerosol cans in bonfires is very dangerous and should only be carried out by trained professionals aka children brought up in the 1970's. Lol
As I post this on remembrance Sunday and one hundred years from the year the First World War started ( "The war to end all wars" ) let us end on this,
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam
Laurence Binyon ("For the Fallen")
"Lest we forget"
Two updates to start this blog off. The first is from Dawn, who has the very handsome Edward aka Ted. Ted is from Dolly's litter (reggie the Dad) that celebrated their third birthday on the 29th October and I blogged an update from his sister Poppy on the 30th October with belated birthday greetings to all their siblings. Lovely to hear from you Dawn and Ted looks a lovely boy and especially dapper in his new coat. Thanks for the update and photos.
Hope you are all keeping well.
Thought I would send you a couple of pictures of Edward - one taken
in the summer and one of him on his birthday in his new coat!
Ted is as wonderful as ever - he has turned into a real lap dog and loves cuddling up. He is as mad as ever though - we are still waiting for him to grow up!
Dawn, Wayne & Buffy
New update is a lovely email from Lottie who Felicity has and is from our last litter of pups, born six months ago (Is it really that long ago ?) with Mum being Primrose and Dad, Reggie. Thanks for the very sweet email and cute photos of Lottie, might be a good idea to get a rain coat for Lottie, incase she meets any more large Poodles who try to pee on her. Lol
Dear Mummy, Daddy, Grandma, Aunties, Uncles, Auntie Jane, Uncle David and children,
As you haven't heard from us for a while, I asked my Mummy Felicity to send you an email.
This last Friday, I graduated from puppy training class and got my certificate for being a clever girl.
I ended up going to the class for the older pups, as all I did at class for the little pups was shout (bark) at them and not concentrate on Mummy or what my teacher Shelley was telling me.
But with practice, I have now learnt 'lots'!
On Monday, I had my first haircut and had a bath and my nails trimmed. Mummy was a bit worried about leaving me at the groomers, but I was ever such a good girl for the lady. So I am very fluffy at the moment!
The two pictures Mummy encloses are before and after I had been.
I really love my walks, sometimes we go round a big lake thats not far from Grandmas (thats Mummy Felicitys Mummys) house. We were on one of our walks the other day and this very big poodle came up to us (he was much bigger than you Daddy!) and almost weed on me!! Yuk!
I'm always very pleased and excited to meet people,especially on our walks and they often say how sweet and cute I am.
We have been hoping to go to the beach and see the sea, but it has been so windy and wet here lately and Mummy says it will be even more windy at the beach, so hopefully we will be able to go there soon on a fine day.
I have been looseing quite a few of my baby teeth these last few weeks to make way for big ones, (which have now come through), so I have been chewing on and biting anything lately! Mummy Felicity puts my teeth that she finds or that I spit out in a little jar.
I still sleep in my Vari kennel next to Mummys bed and do my best not to wake her up too early in the mornings, (I am getting better at this!) but if I need to go toilet then I can't help it!
I love playing with my friend Marley(thats Mummys sisters dog) he's a Border Collie and very middle aged now, but he still chases around with me, although sometime growls at me but I just 'shout' back at him!
I'm still living up to my nickname that you gave me Auntie Jane of 'Lickey Lottie', I still give lots of licks and especially like washing ears, that makes Mummy giggle.
I think I do miss you all (and my brothers and sisters) but I am very happy here and I get lots of kisses and cuddles.
As we will all be six months old this weekend, just want to say 'happy half birthday' to my brothers and sisters!
I will get Mummy to email you again soon,
'Lots' of love,
Lottie - and of course Felicity.
ps. I know I'm still too young to know about 'certain things' yet, but hope you are ok now Auntie Treacle after your little mishap with Daddy -naughty Daddy!
This morning I had a nice surprise as I turned up at the farm I milk for every Tuesday. I pulled up to the farm in my car and as I opened the boot of the car to change into my wellies, I heard it, a cow mooing, not any old moo, the earthy moo that means only one thing, they are giving birth. The calving pens at this farm are just across the collecting yard from the milking parlour and I just always check them before starting to milk and as I popped my head over the third pen along this morning, I got to see a cow just finishing giving birth to her calf. Action stations. Every thing seemed good as I entered the pen, but I did not know how long she had been pushing the calf off and the calf was lying motionless and Mum was a bit exhausted and was not yet getting into tending her calf by licking it, so I just got hold of some loose straw started to rub the calf down briskly and checked its mouth to check nothing was obstructing it's airway and often this jump starts them into breathing ( birth will be the most precarious journey we will of all taken and we will not recall a moment of it). Thankfully this chap soon took his first breaths and within minutes was lying with his head up taking in his new surroundings. Every thing seemed okay, so I took my leave to start up the parlour and get milking. After a couple of rows of cows being milked, I diligently put my head over the door to check all was still okay with Mum and calf, going in to check Mum was okay, as she was lyed right out, not even stirring when I called her, so I went in and gave her a nudge, for her to sit up looking slightly confused for a moment and suddenly remembering that she had a calf to tend to.
Cows most of the time calf with not to much trouble, but things can soon go from good to bad after what can seem a straight forward calving, milk fever can quickly become critcal for a cow, so any signs of this a quick bottle of calcium can safe you a lot of trouble. Another heart breaking thing that can happen and not much can be done, is the cow has an internal bleed and you return to find them dead or in the process of dying. Birth is an amazing thing and never ceases to amaze me, but as it gives life, it can also take life.
About half an hour after calving Mum was up and starting to mother her new charge, Adrian who I was milking for soon after this appeared and thankfully I could hand over vigilance of Mum and calf to him. He was pleased that she had calved with no problem, as this was her second calf and as a heffer she had a terrible birth with her first calf and as he recalled this, I remembered her calving, as she is a rather sweet looking little cow and very friendly. Her first calving was bad because she had such a big calf and although it was born alive after being pulled off, she had been dammaged badly internally in the process, to such an extent, the vet adviced that she would probably be best not to be bred again and doubted if she would get in calf again. Well, she was got in calf to an Aberdeen Angus and gave birth to another big calf for an Angus cross on her own this morning, so just before I left the farm this evening after milking, I just popped my head over the pen, to take a look at how Mum and son were doing and told her she was a "sweetheart" and watched her has she let her calf suckle, licking him in encouragement and thought, "now that is what you call job satisfaction."
Taking it to heart
Just over a week ago I received a dreaded email, one though that I knew would come eventually. The email was from Gill who has had two Cavapoos from us. She had her first one, Alfie from our first ever litter of Cavapoos. The email is as follows,
I know after talking to you that you wanted to keep an eye on the health of your offspring. Alfie, 2009, Millie's first cavapoo litter, has been diagnosed as having a grade 1-2 heart murmur. i am not unduly concerned as he is fit and healthy and enjoys hunting rabbits. I know that this is disappointing as you were hoping that they may be free of this cavalier problem. I will keep you updated if anything changes. Kym is fine and of course they both give me so much pleasure and are my best friends.
Firstly I thank Gill for letting me know about Alfie being diagnosed with a heart murmur and at this point I must admit a fault, that when I embarked on cross breeding, that I did not stress to everyone having a pup from me the importance of letting me have health updates, especially if diagnosed with a condition that has a high probability of being hereditary. At this time though this is my first report of a Cavapoo with a heart murmur and the probablity is high that it is Mitrial Valve Degeneration (MVD).
Alfie was born in the Spring of 2009, so is now around 5 1/2 years old. Millie is his Mum and my sisters Poodle Rollo is his Dad. Millie was disgnosed with a grade 2 heart murmur at 4 years old and 11 months old. The only thing I can draw from this is that the onset of MVD is later than earlier in Alfie than his Mum. Millie at seven years old is still graded 2 for her heart murmur, so the onset is seeming to be slow.
This blog is going to look at this this condition and the realities of breeding out from a group of dogs that is so badly effected by this condition and what can really be expected from crossing this breed with the heart condition MVD. One of the big questions is, should I breed from dogs, knowing that they have a high probability to develop MVD ?
First lets try to understand what MVD is and I will try to keep it simple and to the point.
Heart disease in dogs
Approximately 10% of general dog population, around one out of every ten dogs will develop some form of heart disease, approximately though 80% of heart disease in the general dog population will be MVD. So that is every ten dogs out of hundred that get heart disease, eight of the ten dogs with heart disease will be diagnosed as MVD. MVD is more common in small dogs, than medium to large dogs.
MVD is the leading cause of death in Cavaliers all over the world. MVD is a polygenetic disease (depending on the simultaneous presence of several genes, they are not inherited as simply as are single gene disorders). Statistics have shown that MVD may afflict over 50% of Cavaliers by the age five and nearly all Cavaliers have MVD by the age of ten, if they live that long.
What is the Mitrial Valve ?
The heart has four chambers. The upper chambers are the atria (atrium for one chamber) and the lower chambers are the ventricles. The heart is divided into left and right sides. Each chamber (atrium) of the heart has a one-way valve to keep blood from flowing back. The Mitrial Valve is between the left atrium and left ventricle.
What is MVD ?
MVD is a degeneration of the heart's mitrial valve. The mitrial valve is one of four sets of valves in the heart. As degeneration of the valve occurs, the valve does not close fush after each pump of the heart and blood thus backflows from the ventricle back into the atrium.
The function of the heart is to pump unoxygenated blood to the lungs to be oxygenated and to then pump that oxygenated blood to the rest of the body on a continuous loop. The unoxygenated blood returns to the heart by entering the right atrium (right upper chamber). It stops there briefly and is then pumped into the right ventricle (right lower chamber). From the right ventricle the blood is pumped into the lungs to pick up oxygen.
Once the blood is oxygenated it flows back into the left atrium (left upper chamber) and is held there before fowing into the left ventricle. From the left ventricle, the oxygenated blood is pumped throughout the body going through the aorta and the arteries.
The left ventricle is surrounded by the largest and strongest of the heart muscles and this large muscle is needed to keep blood pumped out of the heart and throughout the body.
The high pressure created when the left ventricle contracts and pumps blood out, means the mitrial valve has the greatest pressure on it of the four sets of heart valves.
With MVD, as the valve degenerates further, more and more blood backflows each time the heart pumps, causing the onset of congestive heart failure, when the heart struggles to pump blood to the rest of the body.
First symptoms of congestive heart failure are coughing more than usual (during or after exercise or a few hours before bedtime)
Having a hard time breathing or exercising and tiring easily.
Pacing before bedtime and having a hard time settling down.
As the valve degenerates further, symptoms develop as follows. A swollen belly from fluid buildup in the lungs and other organs
Fainting because of lack of blood flow to the brain. Change in the colour of the gums and tongue to bluish grey because of poor oxygen flow and weight loss as the dog loses the ability to store healthy fat.
MVD in Cavaliers
In most dog breeds MVD is seen in old age between the age of ten to fifteen years old and often vets will call it a natural change of the heart because basically seen in old age, it is consistent more with natural wear and tear, known as ageing. When seen in old age, the onset is often slow. In Cavaliers MVD is seen at an alarmingly high rate before the age of ten, with on average over half Cavaliers have the onset of MVD by the age five and by ten, nearly all Cavaliers have a heart murmer. The earlier the onset, it seems the more rapid the onset (my theory on this is, that the younger the dog with MVD, the more active the dog is and thus the heart is under more stress, than an old dog that is less active with MVD onset), with onset to life threatening as little as one year to 3 years. In my experience if they have a MVD before they are four, they will be lucky to see seven.
There is a Cavalier breeding protocol for Cavaliers for MVD which was devised by a group of world renowned veterinary cardiologists in 1998, "The disease can be decreased and the age of onset delayed by following guidelines of only breeding cavaliers who are over the age of 2.5 years, have hearts free from MVD murmurs, and have parents whose hearts were MVD murmur-free at age 5 years. No cavaliers should be bred which have murmurs before age 5 years."
They believed that if this prtocol was followed to the word, that within a couple generations we would soon see an improvement in the age onset being seen for MVD and that onset could be steadly moved back towards old age in Cavaliers. If this protocol had been adopted wholesale or even partly adopted by the Cavalier Clubs and Kennel Clubs around the world in 1998, I think the Cavalier would be in a lot better place now, but unfortunately it was not and the Kennel Club (KC) and the Cavalier Club in the UK still today, only recommend this protocol (unfortunately as history proves all to often, recommending something is about as effective as pissing into the wind, when it comes to dog breeding) and under the Kennel Club Assured Scheme that the KC so trumpet, heart examinations are still only a recommendation and you can buy a KC Assured Scheme bred Cavalier that has never ever had its parents hearts examined and they won't be breaking any Assured Scheme rules, because under the KC Assured Scheme, they don't have to examine breeding stock hearts. The cardiologist vet I use to examine my Cavaliers hearts told me that in the last twenty years, he has seen, "No improvement, in MVD in the general population of Cavaliers," and actually thinks the problem is worse.
You may ask why the KC don't make all breeders that register pups with them abide by the Assured Scheme rules and why they don't make it a rule with Cavaliers, that the parents must be heart checked to register pups with them ? The simple answer is they don't want a fall in the registery of pups, because how would they afford their swanky Clarges address in London or be able to afford the dog showing part of the outfit and you thought the KC abided by the quote on their website , "dedicated to protecting the welfare and promoting the health of all dogs", when it is obvious that when you scratch just below the surface, they are not protecting the welfare of Cavaliers or promoting the healthy breeding of Cavaliers.
The KC have learnt a very good PR trick and that is look like you are doing a lot, but in fact you are not , give some money to charities, divert the eye from the real problems, it's the good shit, bad shit ratio, get it right and you will be surprised how much bad shit you can get away with. Nothing really has changed that much with the KC, number one concern is the aesthetics of a breed, the breed standard objectifies the dog and the functional dog is lost and replaced with a caricature that ribbons can be hung from. The KC though will use the old chestnut excuse, that if they get to tight on registery rules of pups, these breeders will go underground. My answer to that is, if the KC can assure us that all pups registered with them are bred to the highest standards, then we will know where the good breeders are and the ones not with them, are the ones to be weary of, but at the moment you are just as likely to buy a puppy farmed puppy that is KC registered as not registered with them, so their reasoning does not help but confuse the situation of where to find a good breeder.
A myth about MVD aka bullshit
Before we go on , I just want to blow one myth I have heard, out of the water. Now as a breeder and as someone who is happy to help people with inquiries even if they are not getting a puppy from me, I get to hear the utter bullshit other breeders will spout, just to get a sale. The worst and most odious one I have heard is about cross breeding and MVD, and the myth goes, "apparently you don't have to worry about MVD in Cavapoos because when you cross them with the Poodle they won't get it, in fact they won't get any hereditary health issues, because apparently, the two breeds don't suffer with any similar conditions." I was asked if this was true, thankfully the person asking, thought it untrue and my answer started by me saying, "I'm sorry to be blunt, but that is utter bullshit." He replied by saying, "From my limited knowledge of genetics, I thought it the case." I explained about MVD being the most common heart disease in dogs and with the cross, you would not be eradicating the problem, but hoping to put it back in its place old age. Health testing and health protocols are as important in cross breeding as any breeding, so don't let cross breeders fob you off with the myth above, to excuse the fact they have done no health screening of the parents of your pup.
What have we learnt so far ?
Maybe I'm an idiot ? Maybe it would be best to just literally bang my head against the wall ?
Seriously have we learnt anything ? We have learnt that MVD is bad in Cavaliers and that crossing them is not a cure, but a means to getting onset of MVD later rather than earlier in a dogs life.
If you want more indepth information on MVD, research and treatments for this condition take a good look at the CavalierHEALTH.org website at http://www.cavalierhealth.org/mitral_valve_disease.htm
To breed or not to breed the Cavalier ?
With MVD so bad in Cavaliers, one has to question the sanity of using them in a breeding program. Why not just let them go ? The world will not spin off its axis because a manmade breed of dogs goes extinct and the aspect of cruelty could be brought forward in breeding dogs with a high probability to develop MVD. So what drives me forward and what reasoning can I bring forward to proportionate breeding dogs that have a high probability to develop MVD ?
Now if I look at this in the cold light of day, I could easily let them go. Looking at the stats, the probability of breeding cross breeds with MVD and then you throw the chances of syringomyelia into the melting pot, it has to be said, "that it may be kinder to let them go."I'm going to struggle to justify myself here, but I will have a go and see where we end up.
Over thirtyfive years ago my mother turned up with a Cavalier called Kerry, can't remember how Mum came by her, but I remember she was an adult when we got her andwas ruby in colour. She was our first cavalier and the first time we had a Toy breed dog, as all the dogs we had normally were workingdogs like spaniels, terriers and I recall as a small child a labrador and we did have one setter, some were pure and some were crosses. Kerry though did not consider herself a Toy dog and she saw no reason why she should not be in every way a proper spaniel, which included coming home often with half a hedge attached to her and when on a good scent to have selective hearing. She started my admiration for these little spaniels. She also had another important characteristic, she loved to be loved and could take as much of the stuff as you wanted to give her and along with a very tolerant nature, she seemed the ideal family dog and from her have followed more of these lovely little spaniels, giving me loyal and loving companionship throughout the years and with my children have proven their value has family dogs, showing tolerance to often rough little hands and obvious protectiveness of their little human pack members. I also have many funny, happy memories of these little spaniels, along with the inevitable sadness of their demise.
"Sentiment is all well and good" I hear you say and maybe that is it, why I try to improve the health because I don't want this type of dog to be remembered, I want people to experience what I have and have had with them. A lot of pure breeds frankly are in a mess health wise, but I fear that we should not be to hasty to throw the whole breed out with the bath water, as we will lose even more genetic variation from the domestic canine and within some of these gene pools I think we have some things worth trying to save. With the Cavalier it is the temperament that for me, is their defining attribute, spirited little fellows, that defy their size in valour, through hedgerow and cover, if allowed the excursion and neither needy or aloof.
So I feel that the temperament is something worth trying to salvage from this breed and to amalgamate into a small spaniel type dog, improving the health, I believe it can be done. If we get real, breeding any animal (I include humans in that) has an element of risk, even if you were able to screen them for every known hereditary condition, because of good old mutation, so I have to weigh up the risks when breeding.
The fact is MVD is the most common heart condition in dogs generally and seeing it in old dogs we can understand why due to the fact that the mitrial valve as explained above does the hardest job of the four valves in the heart as it works with the largest and strongest heart muscle, so it stands to reason, that this valve, we will most often see a problem with, if there is going to be a valve problem in the heart. At the moment we have yet to hear of any of our Cavapoos being diagnosed with onset of MVD before they are five years old ( I'm touching wood, as I type this) and being realistic, with the first outcross, if that figure carries on then I have actually achieved a better statistic for the onset of MVD than in the pure Cavalier, as statistics worldwide are around 10 % of Cavaliers have MVD at one years old and this rises by 10 % each year.
Using the Poodle as my first cross breeding with the Cavalier I think will lower the statistics for early onset MVD. MVD is seen in Miniature Poodles as all breeds, but can crop up as early onset slightly higher than the general dog population and small dog breeds on average suffer more with MVD, so although I think that the statistics for MVD go the right way using the Miniature Poodle as a cross, I feel that our next crossing with the Brittany has the potential to give better results with MVD onset, as Brittany's are a medium sized breed which suffer with minimal heart problems within the breed. So at the moment I feel the risks outweigh the potential to improve the condition in trying to keep alive the spirit of these little dogs. I'm going to quit now, while hopefully I'm ahead in trying to explain myself, it's hard to put what you feel sometimes into words, so I'm going to finish on a photo of me having a cuddle with Smudge and hopefully this moment caught by my son says more than all my ramblings above. Yep, I'm ending this blog on a thick treacly layering of sentiment !
“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you,but he will make a fool of himself, too.”
― Samuel Butler
Me (Jane) with Puddin' and Teagol, waiting patiently to flush a patch of kale, December 2019
Hello, I am Jane!