Introducing Sandicam

My involvement in the world of purebred dogs, like many of us, takes me back to my childhood. After living in a number of rental properties, my mother promised me a dog when we finally moved into our own home. True to her word, our search began very soon after we relocated to Mum’s current residence and as such we began frequenting dog shows. In the early nineties, we set out as a family to visit to the Royal Melbourne Show. Anybody who knows my mother will attest to her teddy bear obsession that has remained to this very day. It came as no surprise when we visited on the day of Saint Bernard breed judging, she was well and truly ‘hooked’. Many years prior, my parents had dabbled in the show ring with a couple of German Shepherds and consequently she was adamant that "a dog is a big commitment and you must do something with it." I’m not certain she was aware of the beast she was unleashing that day but months later we went to our first show with a new baby Saint and eventually, I took over the reigns of handling. A couple of imports followed from the Bernabby kennel in New Zealand with one bitch in particular, Winnie, becoming a Multi All Breeds Best in Show winner.


My prefix was registered during this era and reflects not only the Saints in our family, but our Italian background as well. Broken into three, the prefix is made up of ‘san’ meaning saint, ‘di’ meaning of and ‘Cam', of course, none other than yours truly! My ‘obsession’ had well and truly started to take hold and eventually the practical expenses that went with a giant breed became too much for a young teenager. Dad was also a keen shooter so the family had always been involved in the world of gundogs. After visiting a show one weekend, he asked whether we knew anybody who bred English Springer Spaniels! At that point, I had spent some time with Mrs. Stephanie Rickard of the famous Wongan kennel and immediately suggested that we contacted her for a puppy……to work in the field! As luck would have it, Steph and David actually had a litter on the ground and we co-owned the bitch who later became Ch. Wongan KD Lang. After a few months of me stealing her every weekend to show, Dad could see there was little hope in him taking her off shooting. After all, what would happen to her coat?!


My first years in the breed involved many visits to Wongan. I sat at Stephanie’s feet like a doting child, literally memorising every word that came out of her mouth about Springers. ‘KD' had a very successful puppy career winning numerous Puppy in Show awards at major championship shows. I will never forget sitting in the lounge room at the Rickard's one evening when Steph turned to David and said “Should we show him what a real Springer is supposed to be?" Ironically enough, my enthusiasm for showing 'KD' was extinguished after seeing a video of the legendary Ch. Clanach Wrath O’Khan! It was at that moment that I decided if I was going to embark on breeding English Springers they would be based on the type, balance, movement and obviously breeding that Steph had shared with me poring over countless photographs and videos of their early dogs and English imports.


KD Lang was mated twice. Firstly to the winner of his time, Gr Ch. Kinsheran Rich Pickings and eventually to a very young Ch. Mewsdale All You Want. I had spotted ‘ Alex' taking a Puppy in Show All Breeds under the respected Prof. Brian Corbitt at about 10 months and asked his co-owner and handler that day if he would be available for me to use. Mary and Ross West and his breeder Sandy Gillingham kindly agreed to me using him and this was to become his first outside stud and the beginning of a significant stud career for this dog! The pups that eventuated were pleasing enough, with one - Sandicam Heartbreak Kid, going on to be used as an Educational Therapy dog in secondary classrooms. I knew then that though a typical and healthy litter eventuated, I needed to go in search of a foundation as I had heard by many that the basis of a good kennel is a strong bitchline.


The above mentioned litter became the first ‘doggy dealing’ I had with Ross and Mary West of the famous Maketawa kennel. Dad drove me up to the West’s dairy farm in Northern Victoria to do the mating and to see the rest of their English Springer gang! A group of farm dogs met us at the gate and unbeknown to me, some were to become the basis of my future in the breed.


Though I loved, and still love, showing many other gundog breeds I knew that I wanted to make my own mark in a breed and Springers still had such a strong place in my heart. Mary and I continued to speak quite frequently in the couple of years that followed and we would often catch up at some of the more northern shows. I spoke to Mary about needing a bitch and in the same conversation, my beautiful ‘Annie’ Ch. Maketawa Sweet Dreams and her aunt ‘Holly’ Ch. Maketawa Hollyglow were offered to me to assist in starting me off. This was to commence the beginning of a very close working relationship with these wonderful people and together Mary and I enjoyed sleepless nights talking dogs, going over pedigrees and discussing a myriad of breedings that could potentially work…….much to Ross’ disgust who often desperately tried to steer conversation towards his latest cycling race! Mary is your classic dog person, with a super eye for a dog who constantly taught me about the need to keep numbers from within a family. This, along with her practical knowledge and advice on good old fashioned animal husbandry helped shape me into the breeder I have become.


The first litter that I bred from 'Annie' produced my first homebred Springer champion, ‘Charlie’ Ch. Sandicam High Command. A winner himself as well as a sire of All Breeds and Specialty Best in Show winners and still producing gorgeous babies in his tenth year. My decision to mate her to a son of ‘Amazing Grace’ the multi titled Ch Wongan High Flyer was due largely to wanting to consolidate the English ‘Hawkhill’ breeding behind both of his grandmothers who were litter sisters. ‘Alex’ and 'Holly’ were also mated together to produce ‘Sequoia’ Ch. Maketawa My Angel and at a similar time, Gavin and Fiona Quinlan also generously offered one of their champion bitches in partnership, Ch. Coranderrk Faith. She, like Ch. Mewsdale All You Want was sired by Aust/NZ Gr Ch. Ngaruru Don’t Stop Me Now and I decided to go ahead and do a half brother/sister mating due not only to their phenotypical compatibility but again wanting to 'tie up' a lot of that old breeding. This litter produced the kennel’s goose that laid golden eggs, my much loved ‘Olivia’ Ch. Sandicam Slice O Heaven. She in turn produced S. Dancing Queen, S. Mamma Mia, S. Gimme Gimme Gimme, S. Summer Salsa, S. Summer Story, S. Summer Sensation, S. Life In The Fast Lane and S. Royal Accolade. These girls, many of them champions, founded a family of lovely bitches with producing power for Sandicam and they continue to feature prominently in our pedigrees today.


Through Darren Bowey, I was also fortunate enough to get to know Phil and Marie Merchant of the famous Clanach English Springer kennel in Adelaide. Marie and I would often speak of the producing power behind lots of the original English ‘Moorcliff' and ‘Hawkhill' bred stock that was imported to this country during the late seventies and early eighties. She, along with Mary, often spoke of Kaye Birchall of the Birchlands kennel in New Zealand and through these associations I was fortunate enough to import Champions Birchlands Crown Royal and Crowning Glory, with Crown Royal being sired by the UK’s current top stud dog, UK Sh Ch. Mompesson Royal Destiny. They in turn produced our ‘Vivienne’ Sandicam Royal Rendezvous, a very valuable bitch consolidating much classical breeding.


UK Sh Ch. Hawkhill Connaught and many of his descendants were to become a benchmark and blueprint to strive for for many breeders. My involvement with some of the globe’s most talented Springer breeders has enabled me access to the gene pool and insights into perpetuating the unique characteristics of this super breed. I have worked hard for a number of years now, sacrificing a lot and usually keeping significant numbers of dogs to ensure that my insane passion for this breed is assured for many years to come.


I am proud to share with you a number of the dogs in our family and I hope you enjoy perusing our history and the many wonderful Springers that have enriched my life.


Cam Cavallo

Sandicam English Springer Spaniels

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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