When I first visited the home of my (then) future-in-laws, I was delighted to learn that they had a dog. Aoive (pronounced “ava” instead of its Gaelic spelling, “ee-fa”) bounded up to me when I walked in the door; I was very happy to meet this gorgeous, silky English springer spaniel. She’s now six or seven years old, but it’s hard to believe. I think if I had just met her I would have guessed that she had just turned three. This dog has a LOT of spunk.
Sometimes too much spunk. Guion has a love-hate relationship with Aoive, which commonly borders on “hate” because of her neurotic tendencies. Deep down, she’s very sweet, but mostly, she’s pretty weird. She’s often anxious and rarely still. She is very “hands-y,” in which she must always have her paws on some part of your body. She may suffer from pica, to a small degree, because she likes to eat non-nutritive things like toilet paper and dish rags. Aoive is the only dog I’ve ever met who is entirely uninterested in other dogs; she avoids them completely. Like many springers, Aoive also suffers from seizures and takes a daily medication to prevent the attacks.
Guion’s mom, Windy, wonders if some of Aoive’s issues may stem from the fact that she was taken away from her mother too early. Mike and Windy adopted Aoive when she was a bit older, so they don’t know her complete puppy history, but I think this is a pretty good guess. Conscientious springer breeders may often keep puppies with their mothers longer than the standard recommendation of eight weeks for this reason. Puppies who are weaned or removed from their mothers too young tend to develop behavioral problems later.
Comparatively, though, I don’t think Aoive has any problems that can’t be actively managed. Mike and Windy have done a great job with her and clearly lavish a lot of love and affection on her. Even though her neediness can occasionally be annoying, she’s only expressing her natural breed tendencies. I read somewhere that springers were bred to be in constant motion 10 to 12 hours a day! I love spending time with Aoive and look forward to visiting her in Southern Pines again soon. We’ll take a nice, long walk next time we do.