The Welsh Spaniel – a great family dog

Sometimes, when you are part of a commentary team at an airshow, you look around the commentary box and think …’How did all these people get in here? There are more people than in the Test Match Special broadcast team at Lord’s Cricket Ground!’ Seriously, you get used to the comings and goings in the commentary box. As well as the inestimable David Lee (the other half of the team, without which nothing would happen), there is usually a ‘liaison person’ from the air event (bringing up to date requests from the powers-that-be), someone from the main sponsors dashing in and out with tidbits of information, a steady stream of traders and commercial exhibitors asking you to plug their wares, enthusiasts who want to point out the correct middle initial of a particular aeronautical engineer (yes, that happened), and, if you are especially fortunate, a visit from the Great One (a.k.a the Display Director) – an august being who rarely descends from his ivory tower, but who brings with him the equivalent of tablets of stone, on which are written ‘How An Airshow Should Happen’. He is someone you listen to with utmost attention.

As well as this you have your resident sound engineer, who keeps everything humming along, provides quips and will even grab the microphone given half the chance! Sometimes he brings along entertainment, in the form of a delightful Welsh Springer Spaniel. Meet Daisy, one of the gentlest dogs I have known.

Welsh Springer Spaniels are a true working dog, being employed to flush game since at least the 16th century. Thought to be a derivative of the ancient Land Spaniel, they are much rarer than the English Springer Spaniel. They were identified as a breed in 1570, by Dr. John Caius (1510-1573), the prominent doctor, educator and naturalist, who described their distinctive ‘red’ and white coat. Welsh Springers have lovely, liquid brown eyes (rarely yellow) and have a sweet, friendly nature, if you are known to them. They are intensely loyal to their human family, and make a tremendous pet. Health issues include hip dysplasia, otitis externa (thanks to their pendulous ears), glaucoma and another eye condition, entropion, which can cause the eyelids to curl back in on themselves. This can be corrected by simple surgery, if it occurs.

Recognised by the Kennel Club (despite all the breed records having being destroyed by the Luftwaffe during World War Two) they have been established in the USA (AKC recognised in 1914), Canada and Australia. They remain relatively rare compared to their English cousin, but I must admit that I have a weakness for them – especially the delightful Daisy!

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