Interview with Wendy Willhauck, Working Group AKC Judge
I have been involved in the fancy since the early 1970s when I obtained my first Alaskan Malamute from Mrs. Eva Seeley, the Mother of the Breed. My husband, Paul, was a Siberian Husky breeder, and we bred and exhibited both breeds under my kennel name, Frostfield, for the Malamutes, and his kennel name, Itaska, for the Siberians. We had Group-placing and Specialty-winning dogs in both breeds.
I am the past President, former AKC Delegate, and former Show Chair for Hockamock Kennel Club. I am a lifetime member, former Judges Education Chair, and present Board Member of the Alaskan Malamute Club of America. Other club affiliations include the Siberian Husky Club of America, the Palm Beach Dog Fanciers Association, and Morris and Essex KC.
I am approved to judge the Working, Sporting, Herding, and Toy Groups as well as several Non-Sporting Breeds, and have judged abroad extensively.
I have judged Working Breeds at both Westminster KC and the AKC National Championship.
Much of my time is now spent catering to three Brussels Griffons as well as a Maine Coon Cat, and to club work.
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as an AKC judge?
Wendy Willhauck: For the past five years, I have lived in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Prior to that time, I had lived in New England for my entire life. I have been in dogs for 52 years and I have been a judge for 29 years.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Wendy Willhauck: My original breed is the Alaskan Malamute. I also had Siberian Huskies. My kennel name is Frostfield. We used my husband’s kennel name, Itaska, with the Siberians.
Have I judged any Working Breed/Group Specialties?
Wendy Willhauck: I have judged many Working Breed and Group Specialties in this country and abroad.
Are there specific qualities I admire most in the Working Breeds?
Wendy Willhauck: All Working Breeds have a specific job to do. They must have the specific attributes, including temperament, to enable them to fulfill their specific function.
How important are the breed hallmarks in the Working Breeds? Can I offer a few examples?
Wendy Willhauck: The breed hallmarks are extremely important. They differentiate a breed from all others. In Malamutes, for example, attributes which enable them to survive and to work in a primitive environment are extremely important. These would include coat and feet. In a Boxer, the head is very important.
Can I speak to the general presentation of the Working Breeds in my ring today?
Wendy Willhauck: As in the past, it often depends upon the particular show. I have judged Groups where the quality was excellent, and others where the general quality and presentation were not as good.
Do I have any thoughts/opinions on dividing the Working Group in two?
Wendy Willhauck: At this time, I do not believe there is merit in dividing the Working Group.
What advice would I offer newer judges of the Working Breeds?
Wendy Willhauck: I would advise newer judges of this Group to think about the function of the particular breeds and to try to assess how well they could accomplish this function. Also, I feel that some of the newer judges don’t realize that many of these breeds are guard dogs. Don’t kneel down next to them; don’t stare in their eyes. At the very least, you could end up being knocked down by a very playful young dog. Every breed has a specific examination procedure. Please respect that.
Which Working Breeds provide the greatest challenge to judges? To exhibitors?
Wendy Willhauck: All breeds present a challenge. We have several breeds with missing teeth disqualifications. These need to be examined correctly and completely.
If I could share my life with only one Working Breed, which would it be and why?
Wendy Willhauck: I have lived with many breeds, but my heart belongs to the Alaskan Malamute. The Malamute is your equal. It is a breed that loves you fiercely and will do your bidding, though only if he doesn’t have to work too hard at it.
If I could share my life with only one dog, which dog would it be and why?
Wendy Willhauck: My heart dog was an Alaskan Malamute named CH Frostfield Sweet Honcho. He died in l990, and I still mourn him.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Working Group?
Wendy Willhauck: I have had many comical experiences when judging. One that I remember was one of my first experiences judging Siberian Huskies. I was wearing a brand-new suit, and it was a little snugger than when I had purchased it. Nevertheless, I wore it when judging a large Siberian entry.
I stood back to survey the entry and put my arms behind my back, reveling in this new experience. A large button popped off my jacket, went flying through the air, and hit a dog on the head. Unlike many of his breed, he just yawned. I, on the other hand, completely lost it, and couldn’t stop laughing. It took a while to regain my composure.