486 — Wayne Cavanaugh: the “Total Dog” Man


Wayne Cavanaugh: the “Total Dog” Man

Wayne Cavanaugh is literally the “total dog” man. In every conceivable way. He is a third-generation dog breeder and fancier. He worked for the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, Wall Street and Animal Planet. He created the Total Dog program for UKC, was a charter board member of the AKC Canine Health Foundation and worked for legendary handlers Bob and Jane Forsyth in their heyday.

Cavanaugh shares his fascinating and high-octane journey through the entire purebred dog world with host Laura Reeves in this first of a two-part series.

“I was born in the sport,” Cavanaugh noted. “My grandfather came over from Ireland and he had some Kerries … it was that time of the world when you’re worried more about eating and getting by and wars, but he stayed involved. My dad picked it up with Beagles. It’s a debate whether I was six or eight when I finished my first Beagle. But we do know one thing. It probably was because there were a lot of people of profile that walked me up to the ring guided me in with a Beagle. It’s not like I was full of talent.

“As soon as I was able to reach both ends, I decided the English Setter would be fancier for junior showmanship than a Beagle. My dad helped me get going in English Setters.

“I went to work for Bob and Jane (Forsyth). They had just bought a Beagle from my father for Bob to show … That’s how I got to meet Bob. I was very young. They hired me to work there. It was an experience of a lifetime. No one can explain it. 100 dogs in the kennel, all of them are the best ones. You worked really hard and you didn’t mind. The education was unbelievable.

Seeing good dogs, working with them, is so important. You can’t really form a template in your head without seeing real good ones. And we had real good ones. We would win all six groups, there only six back then, it wouldn’t be unusual to do so. But it was great experience. Not only in dogs, but in life. They were a great team and it was really beautiful to watch them work together.

Cavanaugh travels back in time to recreate the walnut paneled walls of the American Kennel Club offices in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. “We had everything but cigars.” All the way to the addition of the first women’s restroom in the offices when Judy Daniels was elected President.

The journey continues through his work on Animal Planet’s “Breed All About It” show and on to the development of the UKC’s Premiere Show and Total Dog Program. An amazing step back through the looking glass with a true “dog man.”

Don’t forget to check back next week for part two of this inspiring conversation.


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