Where I can I am trying to give descriptions of animals that we have actually owned. Winston was a golden (I think the true colour is called red) cocker spaniel that had a lousy beginning to his life. We found him languishing at a animal welfare place. As he was different to the other dogs he was in his own little enclosure which was where we met him. He ran up to the gate wagging his tail and looking so happy that someone wanted to talk to him. We fell in love with him immediately and said we would like to buy him. He cost us $130 (the receipt is dated 7/8/1993) as he had been neutered and immunised before he could be sold. Once we got him home we realised he had a nasty cough and when brushing him we found he had a lump under one of his 'armpits'. He was also very much underweight. Off to the vet we went who told us Winston had kennel cough for which he gave us some medicine, and booked him in to have the lump removed. Fortunately the tumour was benign so once that healed and he stopped coughing we had a very beautiful and friendly dog. This is not a photograph of Winston but it could almost be his double although his tail was not docked (not sure about this chap though).
Winston was about 2 years old when he came to us and we never discovered why his first owners had not wanted to keep him but we did learn that a lady had taken him home from the animal shelter only to return him because "he chased my cat". He was a dog that was looking for love and I am sure we delivered all the love he ever needed. Like most cocker spaniels he was greedy but we managed to control his greed and once he had regained some weight we managed to keep him at a good weight. We would have him partly shorn each year ready for the heat of summer and he would look more like this:
One of the most recognisable breeds, cocker spaniels have long held a top 20 place in the list of Australia's popular dogs Their major beauty is their soft wavy coat. Combined with the domed head, big brown eyes and soft floppy ears it is a breed of enormous visual appeal. A small dog, they reach about 40cm (16") at the shoulder and weigh about 13kg (29lb) when fully grown. Colours include solid red, gold, liver black and parti-colours. This spaniel has had it's tail docked and I really feel that, apart from being cruel, it rather detracts from the overall appearance of an otherwise beautiful animal:
These dogs crave attention and love nothing better then to be with their family. They need a consistent routine and good behaviour training. They are very adaptable and can be kept inside or outside. They are excellent companions inside the house but do drop hair (I don't really remember this happening but perhaps it didn't as we had Winnie's coat shorn each year). They are excellent with families and older people. They make good watch dogs and will bark if someone nears their home; otherwise they are rather quiet. They need regular exercise - a daily walk or an energetic game - although a large backyard is unnecessary. They are excellent swimmers.
Winston was always great fun and one of the games we played was when I would toss him the little treats he loved and he would catch them or otherwise scurry around finding those he had missed catching. All of a sudden, towards the end of February in 1999, he stopped wanting to play and had also gone off his food, which for a cocker spaniel is unusual. He became quite listless as though all the fun had gone out of him. Danger signals, so straight off to our vet who after blood tests declared that Winnie had liver cancer which was inoperable. It had developed so quickly as there had been no previous signs of anything being amiss. We were advised that the kindest thing would be to put Winnie to sleep as he would get much sicker rather quickly. We have never believed in prolonging an animals life just for our sake so the awful decision was made. It was such a shock to us to realise our little friend would be no more and we bid him a sad farewell. We decided to have him cremated and now his little urn sits besides Princess' ceramic likeness and a picture of Emma (that is another story soon to be told).
We received a beautiful hand written note from our vet which we really appreciated:
"Just a little message to let you know how sorry we are for the loss of your beloved friend "Winston". We hope that time will heal all and you will be left with some very special memories.
Warm wishes from all the staff at The Spearwood Vet."
Winston was our last dog as I felt we were becoming too old to deal with a puppy and I felt that with increasing age, Phil would probably not want the burden of having to go for a walk each day. We still go "ooh" and "ah" when we see dogs on TV and say "wouldn't it be lovely" but we just know it would be wrong for us and for the dog. Our little Precious who is now 12 has filled the gap quite well (Henry too while he was with us for 8 years) and I am content but I know how Phil loves dogs and I feel for him at times.