487 — Cavanaugh on Collaboration, Change and Carrots

Cavanaugh on Collaboration, Change and Carrots

Wayne Cavanaugh awarding Winners Dog at the 2001 English Setter Association of America. The handler is Elliott Weiss.

Wayne Cavanaugh joins host Laura Reeves for part two of their conversation. Today they are talking about collaboration versus competition, changes for better and worse in purebred dogs over time and how carrots work better than sticks in implementing initiatives.

Cavanaugh shares stories from his time at the United Kennel Club, building programs and growing the organization, including creating a system that incentivized breeders to DNA test their dogs.

“I had two ways to do that,” Cavanaugh said. “One I could say it’s mandatory, you can’t enter (without DNA)… With coonhound guys, that would not work out. So, we started a program that if you got a (DNA) number you could put it in your ad in the magazine. When offspring of that DNA profiled dog won anything, (the sire) got points. Those points turned into dollars. At the end of the year, owners of those dogs got a check. Some of them got a big check.

Hands-on and possibly quirky would best describe Cavanaugh’s managerial style, from answering the phones at UKC headquarters to driving his motorcycle to work and parking it in the hallway.

“One thing I recommend every business do. I’d shut it (UKC offices) down for two days every year. We rented this gorgeous conference room here in town. And I did two days of telling every single department employee exactly why their job is important and here’s how much money we’re making. Here’s the percentages of growth, not the dollars. Here’s where we’re growing. Here’s why your job down here made this happen.

“We just tried to do that, to keep things human.”


“One of the things I did in Kalamazoo, was I invited every registry that was over 100 years old in America to come to Kalamazoo for a conference … We (needed to be) working together because we had animal rights issues to work with, we had zoning things, we had breed specific things to worry about.”


“When my dad was breeding Beagles, we put an ad in the local newspaper. Someone would buy a puppy from us. You give us the money, we give you the papers. No limited (registration), no contract, whatever. Then they would call a year or two later … and say ‘Ray, my cousin’s nephew’s electrician has a Beagle and we’re going to plug them in. You wanna help?’ My fater would help. The people would go through the process, the kids witnessed the miracle of birth, it was a mess, they never did it again. But people had pets. They had purebred pets. Maybe they didn’t look so great, who are we to tell him this, they loved him anyway. What was wrong with Americans have ugly Beagles or ugly Irish setters are ugly whatever’s? There was nothing wrong with that.

There’s a reason people like Goldendoodles. We did part of that, at least part of it, to ourselves. (We need to) take some ownership. I send friends of mine who wanna Labrador to Labrador breeder. They say ‘hey they were nice, dogs are great, but I don’t have two years to wait. I’m 37th on the waiting list, they gave me this 90-page contract, they want to come to survey my yard and turn in my work hours … we just wanna pet!’


435 – Hot Topic: Are we “protecting our breeds into extinction”?

Hot Topic: Are we “protecting our breeds into extinction”?

Join host Laura Reeves and Amanda Kelly of Fwaggle Toy Manchester Terriers for a conversation on the hot topic of “protecting our breeds into extinction” with non-breeding contracts, limited registration and more.

“Your concept that originally we were talking about was non-breeding contracts, mine is limited registration,” Reeves said. “Which is the conversation that’s been happening down here in the States.

Advertisement in the 1956-57 Sears & Robuck Catalog.

“You’re basic posit is that most of us who are in purebred dogs today did not start with a dog that had a 10-page contract. We probably started with the dog from the newspaper. What we would today term ‘the right place’ (to buy a dog) … has changed. It was very normal, go back and look the ‘40s and ‘50s, and there were dogs advertised in the Sears catalog.”

“There’s lots of layers as to why and very good reasons (for the growth of restrictive contracts),” Kelly observed. “Regardless of the reasons why they’ve changed, we have to kind of look at what the effect of that is on the world that we live in, in the dog world, and the repercussions that are associated with this rise of more restrictive opportunities to take part in our sport.

“In Manchester it is one of the conversations that comes up again and again is this idea of ‘protecting our breeds into extinction.’ That’s not a judgment. I’m not saying that as if somehow we’re doing something wrong. We obviously are all working with the very best of intentions and with the greatest hope in our heart to keep the breeds that we have going.

“So for all the right reasons, we’re doing these things. But it doesn’t change the fact that on the other end of that there is a negative impact just from a numbers perspective. That may not make as much of a difference when you’re talking about a breed like Golden Retrievers, but when you’re talking about Otterhounds or Manchesters it does make a big difference.

“One of the things I love about Pure Dog Talk is that your conversations recognize that all of these issues are layered. Nothing is black and white. There is no right or wrong decision. You do the best that you can with the information that you have.

“You try to do the best that you can for the dogs that are in your care and the breed that you are a steward for. I think the beauty of a conversation like this is not necessarily for everyone to go out and suddenly change everything they’ve done. It’s just to prompt you to question why you do the things you do.”

If you enjoyed this conversation, check in on Amanda’s previous conversations here and here and here and here.