So as you would imagine, I get this request a lot. Someone overseas sees a picture of a dog they like online, grabs the name of the breeder, and then asks if I can track them down. A variation of this is people that want to hire me to go to a dog show with them and hit up the breeders there for dogs to import.
I understand what's going on. If you could talk to them yourself, you would (many try... hello google translate). Why do I generally say no to requests like this? I wanted it down in writing, so here goes.
I do help people import/export dogs. I even set up a dedicated website and business for it because it morphed into something that the tax office required me to register www.japandogexport.com I'm a translator, it's one of the many things I do so it would seem I'd be happy to accept more work, right?
Well dogs to me are something else. They are not a money making venture. I've always felt it's important to keep it this way because I don't like what I've seen happen when selling dogs is the way a person makes a living. Dogs are living creatures, no two are the same, and it's not like selling TVs where you have them all sitting on a shelf. There's a much more personal exchange going on between a breeder and potential owner, and each exchange is a custom fit, trying to match up the right dog with the right people. I started sending Nihon Ken overseas to help with their preservation and promotion, and to help people that I felt really appreciated the breeds to find the best possible pup for them. If anything I'm doing doesn't quite add up to this initial goal, I'm not really keen to get involved. When dogs are how you make a living, I feel that it's very easy for money to invade your decision making process. When you're thinking about the bottom line, even if it's only a slight consideration, it can affect the studs you use, the breedings you choose to do, the dogs you keep, the shows you go to, the people you hang out with. The list is endless really.
So for starters, this is the reason I'm not sending oodles of other breeds all over the world. I've had requests for poodles, Japanese spitz, chihuahuas, corgis etc.
Once I start getting into that, this is just a business, I am just a broker. It doesn't have anything to do with preserving the Nihon Ken.
I also generally don't cold call breeders for people. Why not? Because no matter how the conversation or relationship goes with that breeder, to them I am a broker. I'm sure it's important all over the world, but especially here in Japan in the world of dogs, personal relationships and introductions are extremely important. If you've bred dogs, you know how difficult it is to produce quality dogs, and are only going to give them up to the right people. If I just call a breeder out of the blue, they don't know me from Jack Sprat. I usually only work with breeders that I've met personally through some event, or are introduced to by a mutual friend. It's not just being able to get a better quality dog, there is a lot more information that you'd give a person that you're friendly with as opposed to a broker that you only have a business relationship with. Why would you tell someone that is just a dollar sign about how their might be a health issue in your line, or that you didn't like the temperament of a dog you bred in this or that pedigree. I want to have the best, deepest, and most positive relationship I can with everyone I work with. Doesn't mean I always do, but that's what I'm aiming for.
This all translates into why I don't walk around dogs shows translating for people trying to buy dogs. Because then to everyone that doesn't know me at the show, I will again forever be just a broker. I am a dollar sign outsider as opposed to being an insider.
The Nihon Ken clubs here in Japan are all about amateurism in a sort of Olympic manner. Yes, there are people who make a living breeding Akita and Shiba, but for the most part we're a bunch of amateur dog fanciers having fun preserving/working/showing our dogs. The clubs are non-profits, and try to keep that amateur vibe going. I like it that way as I am not a fan of shows that feel like a big garage sale.
If you want me to translate for you and a breeder in Japan, I'm happy to do it if you've already spoken to them, or tried to speak to them. You've already gotten the ball rolling, and maybe just need some help with the language barrier and export procedures. You're also taking responsibility for importing a dog from this breeder (health/temperament/ethics etc etc). If you just ask me to look for a pup, because there's a limited number of kennels I work with, it usually takes some time.