Saturday, one of my favorite people died. He wasn’t a close friend, but he was special to me. Yesterday, the dog world mourned his passing.

Kaz Hosaka was the epitome of the quote:

“People will forget what you said,
People will forget what you did,
But people will never forget how you
made them feel.”

-Maya Angelou

Kaz was a great dog handler. The bond between him and the dogs he showed was clear for the world to see. Kaz showed at Westminster (the Super Bowl of the dog world) for the first time in 1980. He showed some of my favorite dogs (2 to Best in Show at Westminster, too many major wins to count).

I’ve gone to Westminster almost every year since I was 18 (I missed a few years when I had a job, the year of my accident, and this year). I always looked for Kaz. I cheered him on in the ring, and he always took time to connect and catch up…whether he was surrounded by people after a big win or at his grooming table. If he was too busy, he’d ask me if I could come back later.

It’s always been my dream to show a dog at Westminster – hasn’t happened yet – but Kaz always treated me like a fellow exhibitor, truly like a good friend. One time when I was looking for a puppy, we spoke on the phone. He sincerely wanted to help. And, I was so excited that he would reach out on my behalf.

Kaz was kind, passionate, talented, and humble. In a super competitive, too often cut-throat world, I never heard anyone say a bad word about him. Kaz was a legend!

When he announced at Westminster last month that he was retiring, the dog world (including me) cried. When he won Best in Show with the great-granddaughter of the dog he won with in 2002, we cried again…tears of joy.

Kaz was retiring to travel the world with his wife. We wished him well. When we heard yesterday that he had passed, the dog world was devastated.

He brought love, light, and the best of the sport to the dog world. Just last week he told his story on a podcast and the weekend before he went as a spectator to commemorate a friend at a special dog show event.

Kaz’ presence will leave a powerful legacy of the best we can be in the dog world…in fact, a legacy for how to be a great human.

I know at Westminster next year, I’ll imagine him watching over his human and canine friends. Cheering them all on.

No doubt he will be sorely missed…Sadly, he left us too soon. Dr. K