• Male
  • Age: 9   (DOB 3/18/2011)
  • 17# (ideal weight is 15-16 lbs.)
  • Asymtomatic heart murmur, dry eyes managed with 2 daily eyedrops, otherwise healthy
  • Adoption Donation: $250


  Birmingham, Alabama


🏑 Someone home much of the day / low alone time
🐢 Canine companion of similar size & temperament
πŸ’œ Quiet, adult only home
🌱 Safe and secured fenced in yard

Xander came into our care several months ago after he was retired and released from the only way of life he has ever known - being a breeding dog in a puppy mill. Xander just turned 9 years old last month (DOB 3/18/2011) and is sadly just now learning about what life is like outside of a cage. As you can imagine, he arrived into our care with many health issues that had been completely neglected and that required medical attention along with poor psychological health due to the trauma and reproductive abuse he endured for so many years. Xander's medical issues are now well managed and he is beginning to learn that he is safe and loved. After 9 years of being locked up in cage with little to no human interaction or attention, please understand that his socialization progress will be in baby steps and not in leap and bounds. Xander deserves and needs as family who will love him for who he is, not for what he can or can not do, and one that will give him the unconditional love, patience, support, and encouragement he needs as he continues to work to move forward and put his puppy mill past behind him.

One of the medical issues Xander arrived with is keratoconjunctivitis sicca, also known as "dry eye". This is a common Cavalier congenital disease in which there is low to no tear production and the lack of lubrication can create a lot of secondary issues, not to mention a lot of discomfort. In Xander's case he arrived with zero tear production and secondary infection and inflammation. Once the infection and inflammation was properly treated, we were able to stimulate the tear gland and increase tear production. Thankfully, Xander responded well to the treatment and his tear production is now in the normal range! He needs to remain on the tear stimulant drop and a lubricating eye drop (administered twice a day) for life. Once the inflammation was down, distichia was revealed. Distichia is an eyelash disorder which causes inward growth and creates chronic discomfort and irritation. We decided to move forward with the cryoepilation procedure in which the lashes are frozen off - this is the most effective and permanent treatment for distichia and was curative for Xander.

With his eyes taken care of, next was a visit to our cardiologist after a significant heart murmur had been detected at his intake vetting. Xander, like almost all Cavaliers his age, has mitral valve disease meaning that his mitral valve is insufficient. The great news for Xander is that while the valve itself is "faulty", this has not caused any secondary changes to his heart's structure or function as his parameters per his echocardiogram were all within normal limits! Because of this, Xander does not need heart medications at this time, but his mitral valve disease should continue to be monitored via echocardiogram performed by a veterinary cardiologist. It is recommended that he have a recheck echocardiogram this summer.

Xander also underwent his neuter surgery and much needed dental while in our care, and was also treated for ear infections and giardia. His orthopedic health is great, especially for his age, and has clear knees and hips. Xander is now up to date on vaccinations, neutered, had a recent dental, is microchipped, and on monthly preventatives. His dry eye is now well managed with the is 2 daily eye drops that he needs to remain on for life. He is a very good boy about his eyedrops now that he reached a level of trust with his foster mom and knows that a yummy treat immediately follows his drops.

Like most Cavaliers, Xander is a great eater and enjoys his meals and treats. He eats his twice a day meals in an open crate where he doesn't have to worry about another dog getting to his bowl. Xander arrived underweight but has had no problem filling out. He now weighs 17 pounds which is a pound or two over his ideal weight so we are now making appropriate adjustments. His forever family must be committed to his strictly portioned meals, limited healthy treats, and opportunities for daily exercise and activity to help him stay at his optimal health and ideal weight (which we feel is between 15-16 pounds). He has a lovely Ruby coat which is coming in beautifully now that he is eating a high quality diet and getting lots of TLC.

Xander had never been in a home environment prior to arriving into rescue but he is doing well with his potty training with the help of his Cavalier foster siblings who we happily follows outside to take care of his potty business. Providing frequent opportunities outside helps to ensure potty training success - that said, Xander needs to be taken out first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and every couple hours in between. Do not expect him to 'alert' you that he needs to go, rather you need to take the initiative to take him out. A high value treat following good potty behavior will be great positive reinforcement for him. Please know that accidents are to be expected, especially initially until Xander becomes familiar with and comfortable with is new environment and routine.

Xander's foster mom describes him as very shy but that he is slowly but surely blooming and coming out of his shell. We really saw Xander come to life when he discovered toys! He LOVES squeaky toys and loves playing with them and keeping them close by him. He has also really come to love the BIG bed where he sleeps but also likes to enjoy naps in too. During the day, Xander spends most of his time in his foster home with his foster family following the lead of his cavalier foster siblings. While someone is typically home most of the time, during limited times when no humans are home, Xander stays in a gated off area of the foster home with his cavalier foster siblings where they have plenty of room and access to comfy dog beds and water. Because Xander spent all of his life in strict confinement, we do not recommend that Xander is crated, rather he does best being in a safe, puppy proofed area with his canine companions and some freedom. At night, he sleeps in the BIG bed where he likes to snuggle with one of his cavalier foster siblings. Xander uses pet steps to get on to the bed but is not comfortable coming down them so he needs a lift off.

Xander does well being apart of a group of Cavaliers as he feels most comfortable and secure being with the other dogs and not "singled out". While he is undersocialized with humans, he is very socialized with other dogs and depends on them to know what to do and how to behave, especially now that he is in a home environment for the first time in his life. Quite frankly, he doesn't know how to be a dog, unless he has another well-adjusted, confident, social, resident dog to model after and follow. He has really bonded with the other Cavaliers in his foster home and really enjoys their companionship. We will be seeking a home for him with other Cavaliers, or another dog of similar size and mild temperament. Particularly ones that will allow him to enjoy his squeaky toys with little competition and that will welcome his closeness and cuddling. He has also done well with dog-friendly cats.

In true Cavalier fashion, Xander thrives off companionship, both two legged and four legged, however, humans are brand new to him and he is still very shy and timid with people. Too much attention on him, particularly with touching, is overwhelming for him. He has come to learn to enjoy gentle petting and affection but is not comfortable being picked up and held. He is happy just being in the same space with you and needs a family who will not "push" him or expect him to reach a certain level of affection and closeness with them. Please understand that he will likely never be an overly social dog who can easily meet new people, experience new things and do well, so expectations for him must be realistic - 9 years of trauma, abuse, and neglect in a puppy mill takes much time to reverse and erase.

Xander is not leash trained and being on leash is a very advanced skill for our timid, skittish puppy mill dogs. Xander should not be asked or expected to be on a leash at this point as it is not safe for him and will only further scare and traumatize him. Therefore he needs a very safe and secured fenced yard for pottying purposes and to enjoy his new found freedom in. He enjoys being outside with the other dogs on nice days where he can sun bathe. He does not like to go out in the rain, wind, or storms, where he is easily spooked. He is also easily startled by loud or sudden noises and movements and would thrive best in a more quiet, low-activity, adult only home. His foster home only has a few wide outdoor steps which he has no problems going up or down but may be fearful or uncomfortable being asked to go up and down indoor steps or full flights simply due to lack of exposure.

Xander is an absolutely precious boy who has been given a second chance at life, at 9 years old. He is now healthy and feeling great and working on getting comfortable in this whole new world around him. He needs a family who will be committed to supporting him on his journey and helping him overcome the challenges he faces due to the trauma of his puppy mill past. His family must be able to continue his medical care including his daily life-long eye drops and ongoing cardiac scans to monitor his mitral valve disease. Xander will continue to bloom in the right environment - a calm, quiet, adult only home, with other welcoming, well adjusted Cavaliers, a safe and secured fenced yard, and someone home much of the day who will have realistic expectations for his socialization and progress. If you feel this is you and are ready for an extremely rewarding experience of loving and rehabilitating a very deserving puppy mill dog, please complete an online adoption application found on our website and then email us at CavalierRescueAL@gmail.com to express your interest. Xander is located in Birmingham, Alabama (travel there is required), and his requested adoption donation is $250.