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This Week's Pet Story

Annie - Cavalier King Charles SpanielNovember 25, 2002 was one of the worst days of my life. That morning, Mac, a one year old male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owned by my ex-wife Amy, suddenly passed away in front of us at the Palm Springs Desert Animal Hospital. To this day neither of us know what killed Mac (we suspect he may have drank some poisoned runoff water), but the experience was much more traumatic than I'd expected. I've always considered myself more of a "dog person" and have owned quite a few including a Sheltie, Beagle and Keeshond, and Mac's passing was not my first experience in losing a pet. However, seeing Mac lying stretched out on a stainless steel table with his eyes fully dilated made me feel as if I'd been kicked in the stomach and I could barely help my sobbing ex-wife walk past the line of shocked pet owners waiting by the front desk.

I became acquainted with Mac when Amy asked me to drive to Majesty Cavaliers near Temecula, California to help her pick out a puppy. Until then I'd never heard of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but I became quickly enamored with Mac and we became fast friends after I informed Amy that I would be more than happy to puppy-sit him. I'd never encountered a dog with Mac's personality and slowly became suspicious that there really was a little person trapped in that red and white Blenheim body. I work out of my home office and one afternoon became angry at a notoriously obstinate client. I slammed down the phone, shouted an obscenity and turned around to see Mac staring straight up at me with wide, frightened eyes. He immediately scampered out of my office with me in hot pursuit shouting, "Mac, I'm not mad at you!" I'd only made it halfway down the hall when my phone rang and I returned to answer it. As I was speaking to a client, Mac reappeared with his favorite cloth doll, Mr. Alligator, and dropped it at my feet. He then looked up as if to say, "Will this make you happy?" If there ever was a moment that defined man's powerful and ancient connection to the dog, this was it - and I will never forget it.

After Mac died, I drove over a hundred miles that night from Palm Springs to Majesty Cavalier in Temecula. I told Amy that I was going to get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel of my own. The idea was too painful for her, but she called the owner of Majesty Cavalier (Janet), told her what had happened to Mac and that I wanted to buy a Cavalier. Janet then informed Amy that she indeed had some puppies and one was a half sister of Mac.

That was all I needed to hear. Amy joined me and we sped into the freezing night, reaching the hilly avocado groves where Janet lived two hours later. As we shuffled in the cold and waited for Janet to open her gate, over twenty Cavaliers ran up to the wrought iron fence. All ran up, but one. It was a beautiful female Blenheim about 12 weeks old that stayed fifteen feet back and looked the other way as if she was watching something lurking in the field to our left. On the other hand, it also looked as if she was purposely ignoring us. "Look at the attitude on that little one!" Amy said.

That "little one" was Mac's half sister and is now called Annie. Whereas Mac had a "happy go lucky" attitude, Annie has a hilariously pompous and irascible personality. Janet warned me not to get another puppy with the same personality as Mac and she was right on the mark. Annie has a personality all her own, and like Mac, I've never encountered another dog quite like her. Annie cannot stand to be ignored (it must be the Leo in her) and I discovered this one afternoon in my office as I was working on my computer. She was leaning over the sofa beside me and whining because she wanted me to play with her. I brushed her aside saying, "Not now, I'm busy!" and was promptly rewarded with a paw swipe to the back of my head. The sofa is a long distance for her to reach and I was surprised that she could actually hit me. However, I also noticed that her right paw was stretched much further down than the other. I turned back to my computer and Bam! - she got me, again. I grabbed my camera and caught her staring innocently away at the office door - with her guilty right paw still stretched down low.

David J Castello
Palm Springs, CA

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