What Exactly Happens at a Springer National Specialty?

A couple of weeks ago, the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association held their National Specialty event at Purina Farms just west of St. Louis, Missouri.  If you’re like I was a few years ago, you might be asking yourself, what’s this all about?  What goes on at these events?  Does this have anything at all to do with rescued English Springer Spaniels?  

I had to see for myself.  So, back in 2007 when I first heard about something called a National Specialty for Springer Spaniels, I decided to travel from Texas to Lexington, Kentucky to check it out.  I was absolutely astounded by what I found.  There were all kinds of events and  I met some amazing people who ultimately led me to volunteering for ESRA. 

The next National Specialty was to be held in Dallas the following year.  At that time, I lived in Dallas so I attended again and met local ESRA volunteers who were so fun and welcoming.  I’ve been volunteering with ESRA ever since and have attended two more National Specialty events where I accompanied my rescued Springers Linus and Lila in the Parade of Rescues.

What can you expect if you decide to attend a National Specialty for Springers?  There are a number of competition events during the week, including Conformation (like you see on tv), Scent, Obedience, Agility and Rally trials.


In addition to the competition events, there is the Parade of Rescues where rescued Springer Spaniels take a lap around the show ring with their owners while the audience listens to the story of their rescue.  There is never a dry eye in the house during this event and it is a personal favorite of mine.  It is truly a feeling of joy to walk your best buddy around that ring while everyone applauds and cheers.


These rescued Springers are each so special and have amazing stories.  It’s just a very emotional and beautiful experience to participate in or observe.

The National Specialty is a great place to learn more about Springer Spaniels and what kinds of activities they can participate in.  We had an adopter drive up from Arkansas this year for that very reason.  In addition, two ESRA Springers passed all ten of the requirements to earn their Canine Good Citizen Certificates.  The Canine Good Citizen Program is an AKC (American Kennel Club) two-part program that stresses responsible pet ownership for owners and basic good manners for dogs.

You can’t have a party without some good food, so naturally ESRA volunteers find time to gather for dinner and camaraderie.  There is also a silent auction full of beautiful specialty items for all budgets.  Perhaps the best part of attending one of these Specialties is the special friendships that are formed and enhanced during this week of Springer togetherness.  ESRA also has a fabulous booth manned by many volunteers and their ESRA representatives.

So, if this article has intrigued you at all, the next English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association National Specialty will be Saturday, October 5, 2019 through Saturday, October 12, 2019 in San Diego, California.  I know it’s on my list to attend for some of the events.  It’s not necessary to be there the whole week unless you’re participating in some of the competition events.  Most of the rescue events take place over the weekend.  There is also a website that will keep you up to date on all of the latest information.  We hope to see you there for more Springer fun!



What is the best option for care for your Springer Spaniel when you have to travel

I wasn’t sure this was going to be my next topic for the blog but as it happens, I am in the process of interviewing pet sitters for my Springer so it is on my mind.

I was very fortunate for most of my life to live in the town where I was raised with my family so pet care was never too difficult.  I have lots of siblings and as you have may or may not have noticed, my mom has always been a huge fan of my Springers.  If I had to travel for work I had lots of options for pet care while I was gone.  Then I moved to Texas where I knew just about no one and had a job that required I travel about once a month.  I had to figure something out.  My Springers had never been boarded and I was nervous about that because they were about 6 or 7 at the time.  My female developed Cushings disease within a year of moving there and I knew that boarding was not a great option because of the medication that she needed to take on a very strict schedule.

I had a friend form work that helped me initially but it was a long drive for her and really only a temporary solution.

So I decided that I was going to hire a pet sitter to stay in my home.  I was a bit nervous about that but found that there are two different organizations that will allow you to select specific requirements including CPR certification, insurance, overnight visits, etc.

I liked the idea of having someone in my home that was bonded and insured in case something did happen.  Thankfully we only had one incident where this became necessary.  My male Springer was quite clever and typically used his resourcefulness for his own gain and he managed to obtain and eat a whole bottle of his yummy beef flavored arthritis medication.  Naturally there was a vet visit, etc which was covered by my pet sitter’s insurance since he was under her care.  Please don’t think this was her negligence.  She was wonderful and Wembley was amazingly gifted in this area.

I still use pet sitters when I travel but I have also taken my current Springer to a kennel.  I prefer a kennel that has someone on site 24 hours in case there is a problem.  Linus is very adaptable and doesn’t require anything special in terms of medication, etc.

I do believe however that he is most comfortable at home so this week I will be talking to some veterinary students from the University of Illinois about staying with him while I travel for work and vacation.

I quite often take Linus with me but when it’s work travel, that’s not possible.

I like a pet sitter who has experience and canine knowledge.  I like to have someone who will walk him when I’m not home.  They definitely need to be responsible.  Above all, I look for the interaction they have with my dog.  Linus is a lap dog 150% and if they are uncomfortable when him climbing on their lap while we talk, then it’s probably not ideal.  It may not have mattered with my other Springers but I think it’s the best when they both really adore each other.

So, what does everyone do when they travel?  How do you choose a kennel or a pet sitter?  How do you feel if the pet sitter is more of a “cat person”?  Ok. I’m really kidding on that last comment but I would love to have some comments and suggestions to help me with my current search.  Please leave some comments and hopefully you voted above.