The World of the Cocker Spaniel is a book that sits on my desk. I rarely refer to it, but a sense of pride swells over me when I gaze past the computer monitor and see its rustic spine glaring back at me. The book is one of those rare gems you can only hope to lay your hands on, let alone own and cherish a copy.
Written by Bill Gorodner and Lloyd Alton, the book chronicles the history of the Cocker Spaniel as a breed, and most of the more than 1,500 photographs are full color. If you are a breeder, trainer, hobbyist, or just plain genuine lover of the breed like I am, this is a book you delight in displaying. It also helps that Dexter’s ancestors are featured in the book.
It is well-documented that Dexter came to me via a reputable dog breeder. This particular breeder is someone I now consider a friend, and we keep in touch via social media. As part of the “new puppy” package that we were gifted back in 2008, Dexter’s family tree and official papers stood out. I marveled at the flowchart-like symmetry of all these regal names, the stateliness of his line, and how very special and blessed I am to share my life with this boy.
In fact, from the time I held Dexter in my arms for that “just to look and see” visit, I was hooked. You know those moments that never leave your heart? Electric shocks literally crawled up my spine, and I knew this boy would come home with me.
“He is the most outgoing of the litter,” his breeder told me once upon a time, when Dexter was eight weeks old. “He is very curious and adventurous and a love bug, too. A very nice overall puppy.” To this day, those same statements completely describe Dexter.
The littermates and I stay in touch: We have yearly get-togethers to celebrate our Cockers’ shared birthday, and I even know where Dexter’s dog mom resides. She was adopted out to a lovely woman in Maryland, and we are Facebook friends. Something inside my heart really does beat dog, and it is having these connections that fills me with appreciation and, well, joy.
One branch from the family tree remains missing after all this time: Dexter’s doggy dad. I know what he looks like and that he always had good eyes and a clean bill of health, hip- and joint-wise. These are all things a good breeder ensures and has tested to keep a strong line going. I also know his dad name is CH Ging’s Legendary, or as he would be called, “Chip.” I tell Dexter he is a block off the old Chip. Indeed, my boy looks like his daddy.
As the years passed, from time to time a nagging feeling would arise in the pit of my stomach. What is Chip up to now and is he happy and playing and as ball obsessed as his litter of spunky Cocker Spaniels? I added “Meet Chip” to my doggy Bucket List.
I connected with my dog’s breeder and she referred me to the gentlemen who last had Chip. Indeed, the writers of The World of the Cocker Spaniel called Chip their own. He was a champion show dog, but I just know he melted my heart whenever I saw the few photos of him in circulation.
On the official site for the kennel who bred Chip, he is listed as “A fast-finishing brown tri son of Ch. Legend Bosco Milk ex Ging’s to the Manor Born. Shown all the way by Tom Dowell.” Awwww, a fast finisher. I am the complete opposite of what it takes to be in the show ring: I cuddle, ooh and ahh over dogs, want to give them tummy rubs, and lift them off grooming tables and run far, far away with them. But I respect the breed, the job of a reputable breeder, and what goes into keeping a quality line going.
Through some Facebook sleuthing, I stumbled upon Tom Dowell, the one who took fast-finishing Chip all the way. Silly as it sounds, my heart was racing a bit and those familiar electric shocks made a timely appearance up my spine. My heart beats dog, after all.
Tom accepted my friendship, and I proceeded to tell him who I was, why I connected with him, and how we have a few friends in common. Then came the loaded question from a woman who just friended him on Facebook: Could I meet Chip any time soon?
With his reply, you could have knocked me over with a groomer’s comb.
Ah yes “Chiperdoodle” as we called him when I was showing him. He was the sweetest little guy. He stayed with Lloyd and Bill after I finished him. Unfortunately Chip crossed over the bridge a little over a year ago. Every time we would go to Bill’s house if he hadn’t put Chip out in his run, the second he would here my voice he would howl until let out and then would come flying at me. As I said he was a sweet little guy.
He was a sweet little guy. I waited too long and now Chip is gone, at least from this Earth.
We exchanged a few more pleasantries, me typing through tears and realizing there was not much more to say. I friended Bill Gorodner on Facebook, who is a legend in the dog world himself, and maybe someday I’ll get the courage up to write something to him or on his wall.
For now, I’ll hold steadfast to the few photos I have and cherish the life I am living with a tri-color Cocker Spaniel who is truly a block off the old Chip. Rest in peace, Chipperdoodle. I loved you even though I never met you. Say hello to my Brandy Noel at the bridge for me and finish fast together.
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