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The Merry Cocker – A Breed with Many Varieties

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202 – The Annual, 2017-18


My grandmother kept and bred Miniature-smooth Dachshunds all her life however, when she was in her sixties and after the death of her beloved ‘Bonnie’ , she shocked everyone by announcing that she would like a puppy (to fill the gaping void created by the loss of Bonnie) but she didn’t want another Dachshund; she wanted a Cocker Spaniel.

The keeping of Dachshunds had been something of a family tradition (and her decision was viewed as heresy by some) but eventually the family bowed to her wishes and reluctantly bought her a Blue Roan Cocker Spaniel bitch puppy who she named Penny, and she remained her faithful companion right up until my grandmother’s death, fourteen years later.

I was just a boy when we went to collect Penny.

Is there anything more beautiful or more guaranteed to tug on the heartstrings than a puppy Cocker Spaniel? Those soft brown eyes, those huge floppy ears and the ‘ever wagging’ stumpy tail all combine to engender a feeling of love and protection.

I remember being completely enamored by this beautiful little creature and as the years passed with a succession of new grandchildren making their appearance (with their fur tugging and ear pulling fat little fingers) the feeling turned to one of complete admiration because not once did that beautiful, placid bitch ever snarl or snap at their childish, intrusive attentions.

It is generally accepted that the earliest reference to the Spaniel occurs in Chaucer’s Wife of Bath Prologue (1340–1400)

‘Hankers for every man that she may see; For like a Spaniel will she leap on him…’

And from then onwards contemporary writers have made frequent reference to the use of the breed for sporting purposes. On account of their adaptability to the low and close growing covert, they were more frequently heard of, in the early days of their history, in Wales and (in my home county) of Devon.

The name ‘cocker’ found its derivation from the Woodcock hunting in which the breed was employed. Woodcock are a particularly strange species of bird and one that blends in so incredibly well with the fallen leaves of a woodland floor. They were winter visitors to the woodland behind our farm and you would often almost step on them before they took to the wing. Our friends would often bring their Cockers to our property and it was in- credible watching these little dogs doing the job they were bred for, and putting these birds up in the air. So, it seems fair to assume that the name comes from the breed’s ability to ‘cock’ or ‘spring’ the game.

Click here to read the complete article
202 – The Annual, 2017-18

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Posted by on Jan 24 2018. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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