We've owned dogs all our life and have been breeding Cocker Spaniels since 2001 when Molly had her first litter of puppies. That first litter of pups was such a rewarding experience that our family eventually grew with five more Cocker Spaniels: Tulula, Gracie, Diggory, Suki Su and Maggie.
All of our dogs have a wonderful range of personalities but they all share the same endearing characteristics of the breed - merry, gentle, affectionate and full of life!
As a child there were always dogs in our house - my mother has photos of me in the crib being watched over by the families Labradors - so you could say that belonging to a dog is in my blood.
At the age of 9 my first dog was bought for me by my grandfather. He was a large yellow Labrador called Willie-Wigg (and the daft names just keep coming). He stayed with me until 1993 when I moved away from home and he stayed with my parents and Benn our other Lab. Sadly Willie died in 1995 at the grand old age of 14.
At about this time I moved to Edinburgh and found Winston (a Doberman/Rottweiler cross) at an animal rescue centre. Winston was the most faithful friend a girl could ever want - a massive 9 stone bodyguard who followed me everywhere and babysat my eight week old kittens while I was out at work each day.
I moved back to East Anglia and was joined in 1996 by Jasper, a black Sprocker Spaniel (a Cocker Spaniel/Springer cross) who came from Woodgreen animal shelter. I thought this had completed my small family, but in 1998 I was lucky enough to notice a small black Cocker Spaniel running across the common near my home. She was happily unaware of the large American lady lumbering along behind her yelling to come back. Her name was Saffy and she was much happier playing with Winston and Jasper than going home with her owner.
Over the next few weeks we came to know Saffy and her owner quite well and at the end of the summer this little eight month old Cocker Spaniel moved in with me permanently (her owner just wasn’t cut out to take care of such an active little dog). I changed her name to Molly-Jo and giving her regular exercise turned her into an entirely different little dog. Sadly the following year Jasper had to be put to sleep at the devastatingly early age of just three.
Travis moved in with me in 2001 and after contacting Molly-Jo’s breeder we decided to let her have a litter. We mated her with a lovely Blue Roan Boy called Luc and had eight beautiful babies born on Christmas Eve.
That was it.
I was totally hooked.
Within weeks we had added our beautiful golden girl Tulula-Belle to the pack. The following year Travis and I moved to a house in the country with a much larger garden. The plan was to add just one more Cocker Spaniel girl to our family. Along came Gracie-Lou, then later the same year Diggory and in 2005 we increased the size of our family again with Suki-Su and Maggie-Mae.
Winston sadly passed away in September 2005 just a month before this 12th birthday, his presence is sorely missed in our house and his huge bed is now used by all the cockers bedding down together. I’m sure Winston now gets to sleep peacefully on a bed without constantly being bothered by Cocker Spaniels wanting a cuddle.
So with six Cockers living in the house it was never quiet and there was always something going on. The girls and Diggory love meeting visitors and new people and are more than happy to introduce anyone to the pleasures of cocker ownership.
Early in 2006 Tulula retired and she decided that she wanted to live with my mum and dad. Tulula loves it there as there are always some rats and cats to chase down the big garden, long walks in the huge field with mum and choccy biscuit treats from dad. Not spoiled at all then.
In October 2006 we moved to the Isle of Wight. The dogs love it here, especially the walks along the beach. There’s always somewhere different to go for a walk so we never get bored with the same scenery every day.
Oh, by the way we also have a handsome ginger cat named Vincent. The puppies get really excited every time they see him and tend to mug him whenever he passes by. Vincent is very tolerant and allows the puppies to jump on him and nibble his ears… for a little while. When he’s had enough, Vincent jumps away and usually watches the pups from the safety of the stairs – tail flicking about, and grinning down at the puppies. The sight of eight Cocker Spaniel puppies barking and wagging their tails at the bottom of the stairs keeps us grinning as well!