Purebred Vizsla Breeders Mark & Bonnie Goodwein Koppertone Vizslas interview by Allan Reznik.
Where did the two of you grow up?
Koppertone Vizslas | Mark & Bonnie Goodwein : Bonnie was born in Coco Beach, Florida, moved to Long Beach, California, as a young child, and as a teen to the San Fernando Valley. Mark was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the San Fernando Valley. We both attended and graduated from California State University, Northridge, and were actually on the same page of our graduating yearbook, but did not meet each other until after graduation. Mark has a BS degree in Business Management and was the first soccer player in school history to receive NCAA All- America recognition. Bonnie has a BS degree in Foods and Business. We met while working in the same shopping center, Mark as a security guard and Bonnie managing a Mrs. Fields Cookie Shop. We have three amazing children, Aaron, Daniel, and Rachel, plus a new son-in-law, Steven.
Do you come from doggie families? If not, how did the interest in breeding and showing purebred dogs begin?
Koppertone Vizslas | Mark & Bonnie Goodwein: Our lifetime journey and love for Vizslas began before we met. In the early 1980s, a stray Vizsla showed up on Bonnie’s doorstep. At that time, she did not know anything about the breed, and without social media, details were not very accessible. Bonnie asked a groomer friend what breed the dog might be, and she immediately identified her as a Vizsla and put the bug in Bonnie’s ear that it might be fun to get involved in AKC events. Bonnie soon joined the Vizsla Club of Southern California and the Vizsla Club of America, where we are still active and members in good standing. After “Sasha” passed, Bonnie looked for another Vizsla, and puppy “Shari” joined her family. Enter Mark into Bonnie’s life. Before getting married in 1986, we searched from coast to coast to find a second Vizsla to join our soon-to-be family. After much research we connected with Ed and Bev Wanjon of Russet Leather
Vizslas and adopted our first show dog. Bonnie’s mom told us not to come back with a male as she did not want a dog lifting his leg in her house, and since I wanted to impress my future mother-in-law, I chose an 8-week-old male puppy, BIS, NBISS, 6XBISS CH Russet Leather Proud Warrior, “Cody,” who for years she called her “grand-dog,” even carrying around photos to show to her friends. Since Bonnie and I had never shown a dog before, the Wanjons showed Cody. At his first specialty at seven months, Cody went Best Opposite in Sweepstakes. We were excited but didn’t really understand yet what this meant. Cody, in the regular classes, won his 6-9 Puppy Class, went Winners Dog, Best of Winners and ultimately BEST of BREED, with three different handlers. I think we were hooked from that point. We also won the big raffle prize at the show, a new Vari Kennel crate. Cody won the Pedigree Award in 1989 and 1990 for being the No. 1 conformation Vizsla in the country. He finished his championship by going Winners Dog at the 1986 National, the weekend we got married.
Our dog show family continues to grow, not just those adopting puppies but people around the world who share a common interest.
Who were your mentors in the sport?
Koppertone Vizslas | Mark & Bonnie Goodwein: When we decided that we were interested in breeding, we spent a lot of time (pre-Internet) doing research on finding a bitch or bitches that we would be able to call “our foundation.” We turned to Marion Coffman of Cariad Vizslas (Ocala, Florida) and the author of Versatile Vizslas. We were very fortunate to start with two wonderful girls, CH Cariad’s Koppertone First Edition and CH Cariad’s Cricket’nak Hivak. Our thoughts were to take the best dogs from the East Coast and breed to the best dogs on the West Coast, thus creating a look and style that would ultimately become “Koppertone Vizslas.” We also want to recognize Shelley and Larry Coburn (Golden Empire) and Bev and Ed Wanjon (Russet Leather) for their guidance and friendship through the years. For our Wirehaired Vizsla mentor, we look to Zsófia Miczek for guidance. Her Zöldmáli Kennel is world-renowned. Even from Hungary, she finds a way to give guidance and make sure that her dogs are given an opportunity to prove their natural abilities.
Early in dogs, someone challenged me by saying I would never be able to show my own dog. Well, challenge accepted! After sitting ringside and watching some very talented professional handlers show dogs in California, I decided it was time to take up the challenge. Cindy Lane Smith, who was showing our special at the time, influenced me the most. She had such a rapport with the dogs, as well as with her clients. She always told it straight up. In fact, I will never forget a specialty in Arizona, where I was moved to the front of a big Winners Bitch class and proceeded to melt down and ultimately get RWB. Cindy came up to me after we walked out of the ring and gave me a slap on the back of the head, NCIS Gibbs style. She said, “Relax, have fun! You will learn from your mistakes.” Over the years, Peter Gaeta and Pam Lambie helped refine my skills and encouraged me to compete. All of their help has assisted me in achieving a National Best in Specialty win, multiple Group wins, multiple NOHS BIS wins, and a Sporting Dog BIS.
Some of the dogs we have bred and/or shown over the years have been wonderful mentors. CH Koppertone’s Magyar Buszke CD, NBISS CH Koppertone’s Cariad Tivadar (Teddy), 2XBIS GCH Koppertone’s Classical Minuet (Minnie), GCH Zoldmali Csongor SH (Izzy), and GCHS Renaissance Tambopata The Lionhearted ROM (Tambo) have all played a role in instilling in us that you play hard, have fun and, win or lose, there will always be unconditional love and respect. We can learn from our four-legged family members and pass this message on to future generations of breeders and mentors.
We are very proud to have had the opportunity to be mentors ourselves on co-ventures with other respected breeders. It is extremely satisfying to see some of our dogs become foundation stock for other highly respected kennels.
The Koppertone Vizslas and Wirehaired Vizslas are widely known, highly successful and well respected. What breeding philosophies do you adhere to?
Koppertone Vizslas | Mark & Bonnie Goodwein: Our goal is to improve the breeds and to produce puppies that are sound in temperament, health, and show abilities in the field, with correct conformation. As breeders, we continue to strive for the perfect Vizsla and Wirehaired Vizsla, and hope that each puppy is better than its parents. Our Vizslas and Wirehaired Vizslas are bred to be companions first, with the expectations that they are sound and meet the standard. We strive to produce versatile dogs that can compete in all arenas.
As the Breed Referral and Breed Education representatives for the Vizsla Club of America and Wirehaired Vizsla Club of America in the Southern California area, we spend a lot of time meeting with people to inform them of the nuances of our wonderful breeds. We are constantly expanding our own knowledge of dogs by consulting our mentors, Marion Coffman (Cariad Vizslas) and Zófia Miczek (Zöldmáli Wirehaired Vizslas), other breeders and local veterinarians. We are involved with numerous clubs and organizations to help promote the sport of purebred dogs as well as being available to answer questions about living with a Vizsla or Wirehaired Vizsla.
Our mentors, Marion Coffman and Zófia Miczek, have instilled in us that the true gauge of a breeding program is not in the show ring, field or other arenas, but in the whelping box and being true to the purpose of the breeds and being able to prove it.
How many dogs do you currently house? Tell us about your facility and how the dogs are maintained.
Koppertone Vizslas | Mark & Bonnie Goodwein: Our dogs live alongside our family, so we only keep as many dogs as there are enough couches to comfortably lounge on. Some of our top dogs are co-owned with special friends and fellow lifelong enthusiasts of the breed. This allows us to keep a limit on the number of dogs that reside with us, especially since property sizes in Southern California can be financially limiting to keeping kennels. Vizslas are very social, smart, and often needy dogs that thrive best in a family environment where they get plenty of socialization. They are called “Velcro Vizslas” for a reason. Our litters are born in our bedroom and graduate to the family room where they are in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the house. They are socialized with people and the rest of the pack, and get the opportunity to explore the outside when they are stable on their feet.
Who were some of your most significant dogs, both in the whelping box and in the show ring?
To date, we have more than 70 titled dogs having accumulated titles in Conformation, Field, Obedience, Agility, and Tracking. Our Vizsla foundation bitch, INT’L CH/AM CH Cariad’s Cricket’nak Hivak had a big impact on our breeding program, producing multiple Top 10 Vizslas and a National Specialty Best of Opposite, CH Koppertone’s Magyar Buszke CD, and CH Koppertone’s Cariad Baratom CDX, and his grandson, NBIS BIS CH Koppertone’s Cariad Tivadar, who took me on a ride to a Breeder/Owner-Handled NBISS in 2005. Our top show bitch was 2XBIS 16XBISS GCH Koppertone’s Classical Minuet. “Minnie” was a two-time Westminster winner and the 2008 VCA Show Dog of the Year. We have also had multiple high achievers in Agility,
Obedience, and Rally, including Koppertone Dorratz Soul Bossanova UD, PCDX, BN, MX, MXB, MJS, NF, T2B2, Koppertone’s Casey Baratom, UDX, RAE, MX, MXB, MXJ, MJB, and CH Koppertone’s California Girl CDX, RAE, NA, NAJ, NF, RATO, TKN. (AKC Pending – Breeder of Merit Gold Status.) Our Wirehaired Vizsla experience started before the breed was recognized by the AKC. We picked up “Izzy” in New York via Hungary, at eight weeks old. GCH Zoldmali Csongor CM, SH was the first Wirehaired Vizsla to earn a GCH and SH. He was also the first WH Vizsla to win Best of Breed at the Westminster KC show in 2015 and was a 2X NOHS BIS winner. He also had a Sporting Group Show BIS at the Rainer Sporting Dog Show. We have done limited breeding, but hope to have the same successes as we have had in Vizslas.
Please comment positively on your breed’s present condition and what trends might bear watching.
Given the breed’s noble ancestry, versatility in all areas of canine competition, and superior companionship, it is not difficult to see why Vizslas have seen a sharp rise in popularity. Luckily, we also have some of the most passionate and dedicated people devoted to protecting and preserving the welfare of this wonderful breed.
One observation we have noticed recently is a trend toward a dog smaller in size and lacking bone and substance. We recently sent a video to a well-known breeder in Hungary of a Vizsla class at a local show. There was a sharp contrast in size between the Open bitches being exhibited. “Are these all Vizslas?”, she asked. “They would not be able to compete in hunting competitions here!” Her comments bear some concern, since the Vizsla was bred to be a medium-sized dog that can hunt feathered and furred game on land or in the water.
The sport has changed greatly since you first began participating. What are your thoughts on the state of the fancy and declining number of breeders? How do we encourage newcomers to join us and remain in the sport?
Koppertone Vizslas | Mark & Bonnie Goodwein: As the world has changed economically and politically, and with the evolution of social media leading to the expectation of instant gratification, the dog show fancy has also changed. We live in California, and in our early showing years it was easy to find a show every weekend to go to within California, and traveling to other states was usually not a requirement to have a top dog. Now, showing a dog seems more cost prohibitive as the price of gas, hotels, food, airline transportation, and handling fees/expenses makes it difficult for young newcomers to this sport to get involved. Also, the decreasing number of venues to hold events and the aging out of the people with “Club Tribal Knowledge” leave very few volunteers to hold events. We try to encourage people to join parent clubs or regional clubs, be active members on committees as well as doing activities with their Vizslas and Wirehaired Vizslas, whether it be Conformation, Field, Agility, Obedience or Junior Showmanship.
Where do you see your breeding program in the next decade or two?
Koppertone Vizslas | Mark & Bonnie Goodwein: We have not changed our breeding philosophy, which states that our goal is to produce puppies that are sound in temperament, health, and show abilities in the field with correct conformation. We will continue to review pedigrees and we will strive to produce versatile dogs that can compete in all arenas. We try to constantly plan ahead so as to not box ourselves into a corner, and are always trying to improve from generation to generation. We will continue to use past and present pedigrees for the future betterment of the breeds we hold so dearly to our hearts and lives.
Finally, tell us a little about Mark and Bonnie outside of dogs… your professions, your hobbies.
Koppertone Vizslas | Mark & Bonnie Goodwein: Bonnie has retired from the workforce. She spent over 25 years in the packaging lab at Mars Petcare, where she was able to travel to dog shows as part of the Pedigree team. Mark works in the Defense & Aerospace industry as Senior Manager, Manufacturing Operations Finance.
At home, we both enjoy sharing our lives with our families, two moms, three adult children (and Steven) and, of course, the Vizslas and Wirehaired Vizslas. We have fun cooking and baking, and spending some quiet time together.
Outside of dogs and work, Mark is a sports-a-holic, whether watching on TV, checking the Internet or going in person. Bonnie is more of a homebody, taking care of her plants, flowers, and garden when the elements allow or when the dogs don’t destroy them.