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Where and Who we are...
Located on 5 acres in a tucked away area of Cedar Lake, IN, we are "normal" people, living "normal" lives, and working "normal" jobs.  Where we may seem "abnormal" to some is in our sideline hobby of showing and breeding English Cocker Spaniels, and all that goes with this commitment and responsibility.

Our Philosophy...
We are not a kennel, nor do our dogs live in a kennel.  They share our home and all the love that goes with being a member of our family.  Our dogs are not just "breeding stock", we do not breed for profit nor for "fun".  We breed only occasionally and with the express purpose of continually improving our line of English Cockers - in health, structure, and temperament.  We also believe in giving our dogs the full attention and affection they deserve.  As such, we will occasionally place adult dogs that have shared our home for their first few years of showing and/or breeding so they can retire to forever homes where they are spoiled as one of one or two pets.  It is not because we don't love our dogs, but because we DO love them that we have committed ourselves to caring for no more than 6 or so English Cockers at any given time.  Any more than that and we believe the dogs will get "cheated" in attention and the individual love that they so deserve.  The English Cocker Spaniel is a wonderful breed, and we commit to do our best in being good and responsible stewards of this breed and the dogs God has blessed our lives with. 

Our Story...
Below is an article I wrote and submitted for publication in a breed Annual. It was written shortly after the passing of our beloved "Champ".  Long, yes....but for those interested, it shares the story of how we became involved with English Cockers over 25 years ago....and most importantly, it shares our hearts in our decision to always remember our roots, the reason and purpose for all we do.

Debbie and Dan Owczarzak

Remembering Your First Love

“Champ” was his name.  A little red English Cocker Spaniel entered my world and set my life on a course I would have never seen coming.  All I wanted was a pet, a faithful companion, a buddy.  Isn’t that what we all wanted in the beginning?

In the fall of 1991, I began my search for a “cocker spaniel”.  At the time, I had never heard of the English Cocker Spaniel.  As far as I was concerned, a cocker was a cocker.  However, when I checked out a “cocker spaniel” book from the library, it happened to have pictures in it of these beautifully headed, sweet expression cockers that came in all the colors of the rainbow.  I took my book with me to pet stores and to homes of cocker “breeders” listed in the newspaper.  None of the pups I visited looked like those pretty headed pictures of the cockers in my book.  I wasn’t interested. 

One day, I visited the home of another cocker breeder I found from the paper.  Upon arrival, I once again was disappointed that the pups did not look like the pups in my book.  This breeder, however, did know the difference in the breeds, and she informed me I was in fact looking for an ENGLISH Cocker Spaniel. She gave me the phone number of a local English Cocker breeder of parti colors, who then gave me the phone number of another breeder who bred solid colored English Cocker Spaniels.  That breeder’s name was JoAnn Davis of Canterbury English Cocker Spaniels.

I still remember the phone call.  “Hello, my name is Debbie, and I was told you might have a gold cocker pup available?” JoAnn replied, “Gold? No, I have reds.”  I asked, “Red? Like an Irish Setter? No, I don’t want that color. I want a gold one.”  JoAnn clarified, “No, not Irish red, ENGLISH COCKER red. It’s lighter colored than an Irish.”  “Like Buff?”, I asked, “No, I don’t want buff, I want gold.”  JoAnn was growing weary of our color wheel conversation and retorted, “English Cockers aren’t gold, they are red!”  I believed her.

As fate would have it, JoAnn had a “red” boy pup available as a pet, and that next weekend my husband and I made the 10 hour round trip trek in the worst of a December blizzard to pick up our new (gold) “baby”.  He was SO CUTE!!  We named him “Champ”…only because my mother-in-law once had a cocker named Champ, and I liked the name. (I had no idea that dog shows even existed.)

For the next year, life was “all about Champ”.  We went for walks, we played with toys, we learned new tricks, we went to puppy training classes, we went for car rides, we snuggled on the couch, and he slept in the nook of my belly. I had my “buddy”, my companion, my friend.

One day, I noticed an advertisement in the newspaper for an upcoming dog show in Chicago.  Hmmmm.  Maybe I could see other English Cockers there?  I went to the show and watched the English Cockers in the ring.  It looked like fun.  Could Champ do that? I sure thought so.  I hurried home to call Champ’s breeder to ask her if Champ could play “dog show” too.  You see, I had gotten Champ as a “pet” because at the time he was offered to me, Champ had only one descended testicle. After I assured JoAnn that Champ did in fact have all his “gear”, she proceeded to give me the “low down” on the commitment and time and learning that would accompany such an endeavor.  I was up for the challenge.  After all, it was just one more fun thing Champ and I could share together.

Over the next year, I learned how to groom, attended training classes (which were mostly for me!), met some wonderful friends, and learned more about the breed.  In short order, I finished Champ in 8 shows with two 4 point majors and a 5 point major, the 5 point win at an English Cocker Spaniel Club of America Supported entry show under Breeder Judge Anne Rogers Clark.  Champ then got his CD in 3 straight trials and his Canadian Championship in one weekend with an owner handled Group 2nd. Who would have thought dog shows could be so much fun?!!

The next year I let Champ “play with the big dogs”, and I asked the talented and well respected handler, John Murphy, if he would show Champ for a couple weekends.  I wanted to watch Champ show and also to see if Champ could get a Sporting Group placement before I “retired” him.  The first weekend out, we got a Group 3rd.  The next weekend out, a Group 1st.  Weekend after weekend, Group placements, Group wins, and then came that first Best in Show.  Oh man, is this for real?????  Each weekend, I would drive Champ to the show, and John would show him while I cheered them on.  Then, I’d take Champ back home and keep him groomed, conditioned…and spoiled of course.  Weekend after weekend this went on, and Champ finished 1995 as the #2 English Cocker with 3 Bests in Show, 2 Bests in Specialty Show, and 40 Group placements, 17 Group Firsts.  What an incredible year!  Champ officially “retired” from the specials ring by going Best of Breed at the Westminster Kennel Club show in February 1996.

Over the next several years of Champ’s “retirement”, we went for walks, we played with toys, we learned more tricks, we went for car rides, we snuggled on the couch, and he slept in the nook of my belly. I had my “buddy”, my companion, my friend.

When Champ became a “Veteran”, he and I traveled to every possible Specialty and Supported Show we could make so that Champ could once again strut his stuff.  Champ loved to go to dog shows.  He loved all the people, the dogs, the smells. He made friends wherever he went.  His last hurrah was going Best in Veteran Sweepstakes at the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America National Specialty Show at just short of 13 years old under Breeder Judge Mary Ann Alston.  Nothing will ever top this special win in my memory.

Champ recently passed over the rainbow bridge at a week short of age 15. Losing my constant companion, my faithful friend, was one of the most difficult things I have ever experienced in my life.  How can one little golden boy leave such a hole in a heart? What is all this dog showing about? What is all this breeding for?  I don’t want any of it…I just want my friend back. But then I think about those eyes, those expressive eyes. Those eyes that without a word could assure you you were loved, those eyes that without a word could tell of how thankful they were for just being your friend. One little golden boy changed the course of my life.  How could I turn back?

Did not most all of us “breeders” start out this way? Were we not all first looking for that “buddy”, that companion, that friend?  If in all the subsequent quest for wins, if in all the glory of champions produced, if we miss the eyes, if we miss the walks, if we miss the car rides, the snuggles, the sleeping in the nook of the belly…well,  we’ve missed the most special thing of all, the joy of our first love.

May you always remember your first love, but also not forget your second, or third, or fourth.  They too deserve no less of our hearts…and they, like the first, are also ready to give theirs.

I miss you sweet Champy boy. We shared so much, you taught me so much.  Your eyes will continue to speak to me through the eyes of future generations.

BIS BISS Am Can Ch. Canterbury's Golden Gait CD CGC ECM
September 3, 1991 - August 24, 2006
Bred by JoAnn Davis and Susan Fiore
Owned by Debbie Owczarzak

Sire of 15 American Champions, several Canadian Champions
13 of 15 Champion get have Specialty/Supported Winners Dog/Winners Bitch wins,
including 3 Best in Specialty Show winning daughters

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