Living with Welsh Springers
Here is a slightly tongue-in cheek article I wrote for a breed feature in Our Dogs.
Living with Welsh Springer Spaniels - Some personal observations
by Christine McDonald (Northey)
Whether dog owners believe in reincarnation or not, one thing’s sure in my mind, that most of the Welsh Springers I’ve known and loved think that they’ve been on this planet before and their knowledge is far greater than that of their owner.
Welsh Springers like to be a part of your life. They enjoy just being with you, and have deep and complex personalities. They are very intelligent, and have long memories. They do things because they want to and because they get enjoyment from doing so. They like praise, but feel it must be earned otherwise you will be mocked. They like to be challenged in their training. You can teach a WSS to sing and dance (ask Gill Tully) or ride a horse (ditto Maggie Mullins) if you love and respect it enough…and have enough time on your hands! But first, a few basics about the philosophy of Welsh Springers.
Commands and conventions are questioned
My memory of the breed starts with a family pet in 1967, and encompasses
over 25 years of ownership in my own right; but I have to admit my
understanding of their character was only crystallised after my husband
decided to buy in a working English Springer Spaniel as a shooting aide. As
the training process began, it was apparent that each command to his ESS is
greeted by an expression and action that says: “Of course, master, you said
‘jump’, how high would you like me to jump and how often, and perhaps
afterwards I could lick your boots?” My WSSs faced with the same ‘command’,
also meet it with questions.
Welsh Springers on the other hand, at least those I’ve had close connections with, can be equated to a floppy disk, possibly corrupted, running on an old DOS system. You may be able to produce the same result, but it will take more time, more patience, more tenacity and more understanding. Others have found alternative ways to parody the link between the breeds. A man propping up the bar in the local pub was talking about the countryside, shooting and gundogs with a close friend of mine. She told him proudly: “I have Welsh Springers.” To which he replied: "My dear, you have my admiration and my sympathy”.
|“I like this game” – Ch Northey Whittington and football.|
|“We’d rather be with you”|
|Working–bred ESS on the right: “Yes, master, your wish is my command”, WSS on the left: “Hey, something good’s happening over there. I’ll go look in a moment.”|
|“Obviously built for endurance and hard work…and cuddles.” A shot from about 30 years ago showing, from left to right - Christine McDonald, Maggie Mullins, and Val Roach with their three bitches on their laps.|