Interview with Jim and Lynn Caswell, Breeders of Wavemaker Staffords & The Stafford Knot
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you live? What is your breed? What is your kennel name? Do you have a website? How long have you been in dogs? How long have you been breeding dogs? Who are some of your best-known dogs?
We are Jim and Lynn Caswell, Wavemaker Staffords and The Stafford Knot, Inc. 501(c) (3) and have been involved with Staffords for 21 years.
Our best-known dogs would be GCHB BOSS Wavemaker Pacifica CA BCAT DMX DS RATI TKN CGCA CGCU VHMA VSWB CHIC (Marina) and MBISS GCHS Wavemaker Nonesuch TT DN CGCA CGCU TKN VHMA VSWB FITG CHIC (Felix). Marina has done it all, excelling in Performance, Conformation, and in the whelping box. She has shown in the UK at championship shows and at Crufts, and she is in the NADD Hall of Fame. Felix is our current Special and is the current Number One Stafford in Breed points. He is a beautiful example of our breed, showing exceptional balance.
As a Breeder, can you share your thoughts on your breed today? Is breed type strong? Are there things to be concerned about? Are there any health-related issues? Have you worked with breeders overseas? Are pet homes typically available for your breed?
As a breeder, owner, and judge, I can say we are heading in the right direction—at least as I see things at Specialty Shows. We could improve toplines, short upper arms, and movement, but overall breed type has held steady. Fitness has improved, and for the most part, temperament is reliable.
I would like to see health testing percentages improve. All Staffords, especially those being bred from, need to be tested for L2-HGA, HC, eye testing, and more. I believe more breeders and owners need to be paying attention to breathing issues as well. They have begun testing for BOAS in other parts of the world, and here testing is available by scope, checking issues with nares, elongated soft palate, and evidence of esophageal malformation.
We have worked with breeders overseas. We have travelled overseas to see Staffords in greater numbers in person. Finding a good mentor is essential, and some of the best mentors I have had the pleasure of working with are in other countries.
There are plenty of wonderful pet homes, but not always the right homes. I feel the Stafford is not a breed for everyone. Staffords are a very strong breed. They can be mouthy and boisterous. They can knock you down, bowl into you, and jump and grab; these actions can injure without malice or bad intentions. Staffords are surprisingly sensitive and can shut down if forceful training methods are used. I do not encourage the use of any negative training methods. These are some of the reasons we see them rehomed and in rescue. Staffords want to please, therefore it’s up to us to know this breed well and respect them enough to work with them, helping them to become a great part of our lives and society.
Staffords may not get along with other animals as they mature. This is not a flaw, but rather, part of the breed’s make up and history. The Stafford is not a dog park breed. They are easily trained and not stubborn at all, even though some will tell you they are. Please do not think that just because you do everything right you will be guaranteed a Stafford that enjoys the company of other animals. Some may be terrific, but many will not be and all buyers need to be made aware of this.
As an Exhibitor, can you comment on recent entries in your breed? Are majors available in your area? Does your breed often participate in Companion and Performance events? How can newcomers in your breed be encouraged to join the sport of dogs?
I see entries remaining about the same or higher, but I see larger entries at Specialties. One change I notice is more professional handlers having the breed than I recall in past years. Staffords are a wash-and-show breed and very easy to train. More competition raises the bar, so we don’t shy away from larger shows. Not every dog is champion quality, but rather, some are better at Performance Events or as wonderful pets.
The Stafford Breed Standard calls for an all-purpose dog, which means the dog should be willing to do just about any task asked of it. Therefore, Staffords make excellent Performance Dogs and they are widely known for being amazing companions. I cannot imagine ever being without several in my life.
What are the biggest challenges facing the dog show community as a whole and how can we address them? And finally, what are some of the positive changes you’ve seen in your breed and in the dog show community as a whole over the past decade?
This question is far too complicated to answer in the space allotted here, but suffice to say we have challenges. I have a lot of ideas, but even by serving on Boards and committees, and writing letters, positive changes won’t be made until the community is ready for them.