Interview with Liz Fujikawa, Breeder of Wynward Kennel
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?
I grew up with Old English Sheepdogs and got my first Norwich Terrier in 1999—that doesn’t seem very long relative to my years with the Old English. Probably my best-known dogs are GCHB Wynward’s Remember That (Bart) and his sister GCHB Gotta Love That (Katie). Bart won both Breed and Best of Opposite at our National Specialty, Breed at The Garden, and was also an all-breed BIS winner; all wins were breeder/owner-handled by me. Katie won a Best of Opposite at our National Specialty and also won our Old English Sheepdog Club of America’s Top Twenty event. I’m currently showing Bart’s son, GCH Wynward’s Remembering That (Michael).
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?
Liz Fujikawa: We are at our National Specialty week and there are a lot of unbalanced dogs; too many fronts that don’t match the rears. We need more focus on fronts and, of course, coming and going seems to be a weak point. As far as breed type, I’d like to see more emphasis on square, a hallmark of the Old English Sheepdog. Short legs or long backs are not correct.
As far as health, I am disappointed that our proposed revision to our Code of Ethics did not pass. Part of the revisions asked breeders to test eyes and hearing on entire litters. To me, that just makes sense; it gives a breeder a sense of where they are with their lines versus just the one or two puppies that they keep.
I’ve been fortunate to have imported a dog from Austria from Eleonore Singer, Enchant Old English Sheepdogs. This dog, CH Enchant Han Solo (Solo), became the first tailed Old English to receive an AKC championship. Solo has sired over ten champions and five grand champions to date. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to expand my bloodlines with a great tempered, healthy, sound, and typey dog.
Pet homes are typically available. To me, the companion homes are most important. I always want my dogs to end up in forever homes as well cared-for family members.
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?
Liz Fujikawa: Recent entries seem to be down; it’s very difficult to find many class entries unless we work together to make majors. The performance events seem to be doing well; our breed is fortunate to have some very serious competitors showing what the Old English can do in Obedience, Rally, Agility, Herding, and even Dock Diving. Encouraging newcomers to participate has to start with breeders and mentors.
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?
Liz Fujikawa: It’s difficult to find newcomers who are interested in putting the effort into proper coat care of the Old English Sheepdog. Many love the look of the breed but don’t realize the true effort it takes. Perhaps a way to get more involved is to have more “fun” events, such as matches, where many get their first chance to compete and hopefully get hooked. That’s what happened with my mom; our family dog won Best of Opposite at a 70-entry fun match.
In the past ten years, I’d say presentation has improved in our breed; dogs are presented in better condition.