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a dog that freedom of movement so neces- sary to his calling. As for conformation, he has contributed much that made it easier for a Cocker to take the grueling pace and the long hours which are required of him as a shooting dog.” In the decades since Ch. Obo II thrilled sporting fanciets, Mo ffi t’s description has held true with the breed evolving through dramatic structural changes. Th e back has shortened, the dog has gotten taller and breeders have selected for more abundant coat. Th e popularity of Ch. My Own Brucie and the breed’s look and merry tempera- ment made it a favorite of people across America in the mid-20th Century—and that popularity was embraced in all forms of media. In the mid-20th Century, everyone seemed to want a bu ff Cocker Spaniel just like Disney’s Lady. Th ere were Satur- day Evening Post covers featuring Albert Staehle’s black and white cocker Butch getting into humorous situations—and the illustrations were found on all forms of commercial products, including play- ing cards that were used to advertise local businesses. Coppertone® used a black Cocker Spaniel tugging on a girl’s swim- suit bottom to sell its suntan lotion. And people sent loved ones postcards featuring America’s favorite breed.
Actors and actresses had Cocker Span- iels. In 1952, then vice presidential candidate Richard Nixon famously talked of his fam- ily’s black and white Cocker Spaniel Check- ers when responding to his political critics. But that popularity had its downside and some people tried to capitalize on the breed by producing litters with little regard for temperament, health or correct type. While responsible breeders tried to maintain the breed as a loving compan- ion, unfortunately there were Cocker Spaniels being produced which did not meet that standard. In the latter part of the 20th Century, the breed’s popularity waned. While still among the breeds with the highest AKC registrations, there has been a slow, but steady decline those numbers. Despite the setbacks, the Cocker Span- iel has bounced back because of the people who love the breed. In the conformation ring—just as it was for Ch. Obo II in the 19th century and Ch. My Own Brucie in the 20th cen- tury—once again the top-winning dog in the 21st century is a black Cocker Span- iel, Platinum Grand Ch. Casablanca’s Th rilling Seduction. As of February, 2014, Beckham was the all-time Best in Show winning Sport- ing dog with 122 BISs. In 2011, he was the number one dog in all-breed competition 3 The Cocker Spaniel , Ella Moffit, 1949.
Postcard from 1950
Photos courtesy Nancy Gallant
Photo copyright J.J. Hanlin
292 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2014
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