The New China -- Dogs in Review Interviews Fan Yu

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How does a Chinese teenager in Beijing become a talented professional dog-show handler? In view of the fact that the purebred dog fancy in China is still in its infancy, with dog shows starting to be held only in the last 10 years, it is both surprising and impressive that Fan Yu, now 25 years old, has managed to become a knowledgeable dog fancier with international experience. He has already made three visits to the U.S. to learn about purebred dogs, and he is also a talented sculptor, focusing on purebred show dogs.

Dogs in Review’s Editor-at-Large Bo Bengtson first met Fan Yu in China three years ago. They talked again in California during a break in the judging at the Santa Barbara dog shows in August. Fan Yu’s enthusiasm for the dog sport and his interest in the U.S. dog scene were infectious.

DR: From what we understand here in the U.S., not many people in China have dogs as pets. So how did you become interested in dogs?
FY: Many people in America don’t believe that, but lots of Chinese love dogs, just like you do in the U.S. I loved animals from the start, not just dogs but also horses and pretty much all animals. My parents like dogs, too. At home we had a Tibetan Terrier. Well, it was mostly Tibetan Terrier — it was probably not quite purebred, and of course it was not registered.

DR: But you lived in Beijing. Could you have a dog in the city?
FY: Yes, but there’s a one-dog limit, so now we have a place about 40 minutes outside the city, with more space for the dogs.

DR: What do your parents do?
FY: My father was a famous builder of traditional Chinese architecture, but when I was 12 years old he was in a very serious train accident, where he lost one arm and part of his face. My mother is in the same business, so after the accident she had to support the family. I am their only child. Both my parents are artistic, so I think I inherited my interest in sculpting, which I have been doing for the past couple of years, and in grooming dogs, from them.

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