Home Articles The Fancy Speaks ~ March 15th 2017

The Fancy Speaks ~ March 15th 2017


The question this week, is for our judges. Judging is not easy, there are long days in sometimes horrendous conditions, cement floors, bad outdoor rings, endless hours of travel, travel mishaps, lost luggage and on and on the list goes.

What is the best part of Judging?
What is the worst part of Judging?

Ainslie Mills, British Columbia
The best parts of judging are the dogs and the people. It is wonderful to share a common passion with fellow judges, show committee members and exhibitors. Meeting new people, sharing ideas, going to new places and learning new things are added perks. I love having the opportunity to judge some exceptional dogs, and to be able to encourage new exhibitors along their journey in dogs.
The worst part of judging can be the travel and time away from my home, my husband and my dogs. The occasional poor communication from show chairs, lack of judge’s hospitality or consideration for the judge’s welfare is frustrating, but rare in my experience. Likewise, disgruntled exhibitors and nasty dogs can be a concern but have also been rare events in my judging career.
I am finding too, that many dogs and exhibitors are not prepared for the show ring. Be it the lack of matches or handling classes, I see increasing numbers of newer exhibitors who require additional help and attention in the ring, and I try to give it when I am able. But with a full load of dogs to judge, it can be challenging and a bit frustrating when time is of the essence. It is even more frustrating when there is a nice dog on the end of the leash that is misbehaving or poorly presented and not showing off his attributes.

William (Sandy) Gunn, Ontario
For me, the best part is getting my hands on some truly wonderful dogs and being able to express my opinions, even if only by pointing, as to which I consider the closest to their respective standards on the day. Seeing really promising youngsters realizing the potential I saw when they were babies is also tremendously gratifying.
Though the actual mechanics and logistics of travel, even within North America, but especially the long-haul international flights are exceedingly tiring and often frustrating, the hospitality of the host nations has, without fail, made up for the trials of getting there. I have, through my judging, had opportunities to travel the world and meet scores of wonderful people who have become good friends, and I’ve had the pleasure of having judged some great dogs along the way, both in the conformation rings and in the pointing breed trials and tests I judge.
The worst part of judging for me has been on the few occasions when I have been billeted, after show completion, with folks whose dogs did not fare as well under me as they had perhaps expected they would! Of course, they should not have been entered under me anyway, when they were aware that I would later unknowingly be a guest in their homes. This no longer ever happens as, after the second occurrence, now more than 15 years ago, I no longer accept billeting with any dog show exhibitors or breeders not already personal friends, and obviously not entered in shows I will judge in their country on this visit.

Raymond Lariviere, Ontario
I have only been judging for the last 10 years and you are correct that judging at times is not for the faint of heart. Friends, family, plus co-worker’s think I am out of my mind when I tell them of my activities at a weekend’s show and that is just the showing of my own dogs. They also cannot understand this sport and constantly question why I spend so much time and money. I then ask them about the thousands of dollars they spend on golf, skiing or some at their local casino.
Then I tell them about all the traveling that I have done over the years and the years to come at my own expense to judge dogs and they think that I should be committed. There are days I might agree with them, but when I get to see and put my hands on a dog that takes my breath away it reinforces why I do what I do. After ten + years I judged my first Best in Show last August and my winner was one of those dogs who I had seen from a puppy to his current age. He made me excited and I continue judging in hopes of finding another like him.
With the good comes the bad. I am not a great flyer but will if necessary. I like it when I can drive as driving always relaxes me, well let me rephrase that, driving anywhere but in the GTA relaxes me. Those in the Toronto area will know what I am talking about. Traveling either by plane, train or automobile is a very lonely existence.
At this current time the pro’s out-ways the con’s and I hope it will for years to come.

Dr. Richard Meen, Ontario
Without question the best part of judging are the dogs themselves.
The worst part of the judging is the presentation of the great dogs who are frequently distorted by their handlers, therefore the judge has the challenge of discovering exactly the quality of the dogs that are standing and moving in front of them. Frequently I believe the best hands are that of a junior handler’s who are not distorted by the politics of exhibiting, and therefore allow their best friend that dog, to be what they really are and not what they think I want them to be.

Judy Taylor, Ontario
For me the best part of judging is the opportunity to evaluate beautiful dogs! Getting my hands on quality never ceases to amaze me & I so appreciate everything that this entails: presentation, showmanship, & “good” dogs!
The hardest part of judging is trying to evaluate a poor line up of mediocre dogs, where you are just trying to figure out which one is the not as bad as the next!!

Sandra Anderson, Ontario
The best part of judging is seeing a person that handles the dog have a loving bond with that animal and to see them work as a team. I also love to see good muscle, coat and shin condition.
The worst part about judging is not being permitted to talk to the exhibitors, as to why I placed the dogs the way I did.

Jack Ireland, Ontario
There are many good parts about judging which out weighs the negative part. I will start with the negative for me and that is travel delays, lodging accommodation where there is not a restaurant on site, or one close by, these are minor. There are so many positive things about the wonderful hobby that we are involved with along with our four legged friends.
The friends, that we meet from all walks of life, covering every nationality from all parts of the world, at this time in history with the turmoil going on, I just wish that more people could have the opportunity that we as judges have, to find something in common with their fellow man regardless of religion, wealth, race or political views.
I feel so fortunate to see old friends, make new friends, see so many parts of the world, and to having a learning experience at every show.
If we feel the negative aspect of judging out weights the positive then we have a choice to make. We are free to stop at any time.

Honey Glendinning, British Columbia
The dogs. No doubt about it. Making sure each and every one of them has not only an equal chance, but, a very positive experience in my ring. Watching the young ones look around in pure fascination with what’s going on in the buildings, seeing breeds they have never ever seen before. One of my English Setters when she was 6 months old went to her first show, she was doing great but just before she came up to the judge from the down and back, she stopped dead in her tracks, I looked down at her to see what had made her stop, she looked up at me then stared into the ring beside me. A 6 month old Peke was also coming back up to their judge and must have looked like a wiggling fur ball on a lead. It just blew my Corey’s mind. I laughed and after we left the ring I asked if I could introduce Corey to the Peke. I thought Corey’s tail was going to wag off she thought it was so interesting.
That is why I love it so much. What must they first think when they come into the building for the first time. It is up to us as judges to make sure they want to come back again and again.

Larry Kereluke, Manitoba
The best part of judging, finding that great dog that just sends ‘goose-bumps up your spine’ (or other places). Worst part of judging: There is no ‘worst’ part. As Judges, we are so very lucky to do what we do. We travel the world, meet some of the nicest people, are treated to fantastic hospitality, and get to do what we love to do. And on top of that, we get paid!

Anik Primeau, Quebec
The best part: Getting to see and examine the may beautiful specimen’s of the différent breeds. The worst and most difficult part is when faced with having to judge mediocre quality dogs.

Patricia Nemirovsky Alsina, Argentina
Thank you for including me, I have three favorite moments when judging: As I approach a dog, I feel a great deal of pleasure when I’m able to make eye contact and immerse myself in its eyes. Of course some breeds you can’t do this…But most breeds you can! Also, I greatly enjoy when I point to the winner especially the top honors, I’m so happy for them and I share the thrill!
Finally: from time to time there’s this dog that gives me goosebumps. OMG!
Nothing equals that feeling!
Now…, judging is not “a bed of roses”. You mentioned some items: long days in sometimes horrendous conditions, cement floors, bad outdoor rings, endless hours of travel, travel mishaps, lost luggage… My worst fear is when the club officers show (handle) at their own show. Such an uncomfortable situation! If you like the dog and it wins, people make comments. If you don’t like the dog and don’t put it up… bye-bye! You never judge for that club again!  It’s a “loose-loose” situation.

John Rowton, USA
The best part of judging…Finding that dog, the one who makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck, and sends a shiver up your spine… Worst part. Getting there and home. Travel isn’t what it used to be. The glamour is gone. Small airline seats, but balanced with the adventure of some amazing people watching.

Wendy Maisey, Alberta
The best part of judging is the dogs. Finding a young star is thrilling or finding the grand old dog that has come out of retirement is so rewarding. Meeting some of the nicest people and enjoying some of the best conversations.  The worst, the travel can be brutal, the hotels are sometimes terrible, schlepping up an outside entrance staircase late at night with luggage in a rain/snow storm is not fun, but glad the club saved $10.00 on the hotel. One club had no judges’ hospitality beyond a cold room with nothing in it, no coffee in the morning was terrible, but it went with the absolutely terrible food offered for lunch. Clubs that have Judges on the executive or in charge of hospitality often go the extra mile to ensure we have a great stay and it is so appreciated.

Brian Taylor, Ontario
The best part is finding new and upcoming great dogs, unfortunately sometimes the worst part is the exhibition of poor sportsmanship.

Pamela Bruce, Ontario
The best part of judging – is watching great teamwork between a dog and their handler. I also love those days when a dog walks into your ring and gives you goosebumps – not only seasoned dogs, but finding the promising youngsters!
Mental and physical conditioning is paramount. The worst part of judging is trying to concentrate, and then having unsolicited feedback on social media websites – saying you are a great judge but you don’t smile enough. I am very happy to be there – OR I would not be there – plain and simple. I have a very expressionless face and I am aware of that – trust me some days it is a blessing. I admittedly do not smile all day long – especially in large classes when I am concentrating. Long and arduous travel also makes for a very tiring experience. I prefer to embrace all that is positive about our sport and I am thrilled with all my assignments. It is a great way to be involved in our passion and see the world.

Dr. John Reeve-Newson, Ontario
The best part of course is the dogs, and finding a new “star”. The worst part is the travel, and sometimes the “attitude” of some of the exhibitors.

Jacqueline Rusby, Quebec
The best part is being in a ring in the company of lovely dogs, the worst part unfortunately is travelling by air, it is not what it used to be.

Robert Whitney, Ontario
The best part of judging is when I discover a new dog, that send shivers up my spine. Although it certainly doesn’t happen at every show, and can be at one of our smaller shows, you never know what is coming in the ring next. Also I love having a huge class of dogs of excellent quality to sort through. I must say, that wherever I go the people running the shows and the exhibitors are generally of good spirit. We are all there to celebrate the purebred dog. The worst part of judging most will say is the traveling, but I think of it always as a new adventure. The biggest beef I have are dirty dogs or those in poor condition. I just want to ask the exhibitor that if they want to waste their money by showing this type of dog, please just mail me their entry fee and stay at home. Although this may seem harsh, and in some cases is just a lack of knowledge, I think you must put the time in working with and on your dog to get good results.

Nancy Popovich, Alberta
The best part is definitely the privilege of examining some of the world’s best representatives of their breeds, and then having them as a mental benchmark.
The worst part?  Most times it is horrid weather, but others it is exhibitors who are nasty to everyone around them, including their poor canine charges.

Robert Denis, Ontario
The best part of judging for me is the quest to find that exhibit that gives me goosebumps. I love nothing more than to find and reward that hotshot puppy, if it is a bitch, even better. I believe this comes from the excitement I have to show one of own puppies to those truly special and knowledgeable judges. I want to be that judge that exhibitor seek out, and have pride in showing their very best. If you find and are able to reward/excellent dogs then the worst part is that much more tolerable. I would have to say that I find all of the late, or very early travel to the assignments daunting. I still work, love to travel and we are still active breeder/owner/handlers. Life is busy and I try to find the best balance that I can.

Murray Eason, Alberta
Judging is something I chose to do, it was solely my decision and if I am not having a good time and enjoying it, I shouldn’t be in the middle of the ring. The best part of judging for me is sorting through a class of quality dogs and finding the one that gives me goose-bumps and make my heart sing. The efforts that breeders, owners, handlers put into their exhibits, also buts a smile on my face. I feel so very grateful that they have given me the opportunity to evaluate their incredible efforts. The worst part of judging would have to be the air travel. The airline industry I feel is to blame for this, and not the dog show community. They have taken away most of the pleasure of getting to your destination feeling relaxed and stress free.

Dianne Miller, Ontario 
The best part of judging is finding a beautiful youngster who turns out to be a consistent winner as an adult. The worst part is airports, too many connections and long layovers.

Carmen Haller, British Columbia
The best part of judging is the dogs, especially puppies that are having fun but behave badly. The clubs and exhibitors who are trying hard to make a difference. The worst part of judging is getting there. Longs road trips, airport delays etc. etc.

Barbara Heal, Ontario
The best part of judging is the opportunity to travel the world seeing breeds either not recognized in our country, or seeing different types within the same breed. As judges we must always keep an open mind in recognizing differences not only within the various breeds, but also in ways that some are presented in other parts of the world. Generally speaking the worst would have to be the travelling, primarily air travel and the many mishaps sometimes associated with it. But if I may sneak one more in which is more judging related, it would be dogs poorly presented, i.e. unclean or un-groomed. Fortunately it does not happen often but when it does, I do not hesitate to address it.

Dick Lopaschuk, British Columbia
I find the best part of judging, of course, are the dogs. Having judged all over the world, I find that the quality of dogs are much the same as here in North America. It is absolutely wonderful when judging the Groups and BIS, the line up of wonderful specimens presented in front of you. I really do enjoy judging at FCI shows where you have to critique your entry, this gives the exhibitor the reasons why you have given them their dogs grading. They walk away knowing what you have seen in their dog.  I wish we could do this here, it would give each exhibitor the reasons why you made the choices on that day. As well as the dogs, I enjoy the people and judges you meet, some of which have become very good friends. On several panels I have been on recently the camaraderie was wonderful, where we would all meet after judging and socialize together. The downside to judging is of course the travel. Long waits at airports, the 15 hour long haul flights that usually are full and less than stellar accommodation and food. I dislike judging outdoors in inclement weather. One show last year was unbelievable, where there was thunder, lightning and heavy rain for four consecutive days , not fun at all for judges, dogs and exhibitors.

Lee Steeves , Nova Scotia
As I thought about this question, the answer seemed to come down to a couple of simple facts. A love of dogs – all dogs – is the essential component to enjoying each judging assignment. Learning to leave the rest of life outside the ring, focusing on the dogs and maintaining an awareness that each person at the end of the lead should benefit in some way, if you do your job properly, makes judging a pleasure. Judging is complex. It is not simply a matter of assessing the dogs and as each of us grows in our judging career, we get better at supporting and encouraging exhibitors; we study, learn and we relax; if we are lucky, we have great mentors who are close friends and able to steer us, when necessary.  When we think of the judges we admire, very often it is their connection to the entire sport that makes us want to sit and watch them judge. They are the successful breeders who are still asking questions, studying breeds at ringside and taking the time to speak to the folks just starting in the game. The worst part can be the occasions when the quality of the entry is so deep that there are not enough ribbons to award all of the deserving dogs.

Joy Huntley, Ontario
The best part of judging, those dogs who have breed type, structure, movement, and attitude. Balance, symmetry, syncopation that makes my heart and my brain sing and my feet want to do the happy dance..these dogs become the “bench mark” for that Breed in our mind’s eye.
The worst part…Judging those dogs who lack breed type, or structure, or movement and/or attitude. Not only is it uncomfortable to judge these dogs, it is hard on our hearts as well. Always looking for that moment of brilliance, that feel of the shoulders that  says that our eyes were lying to us. The excuse is in our hearts that it is untrained, a young dog, a new Handler and then our brain then asks for “ a down and a back” again to confirm. Then the resignation that it truly is unworthy and withholding. Compound this with it being a breed very near and dear to your heart, your passion, this is the very worst part of Judging…All the rest, the lost luggage, the bad weather, endless hours of travel, crappy food and or accommodations are trivial!!!!

Patricia & Michael Lanctot, Ontario
The best part of judging is finding that special dog who gives you goose bumps and being able to follow his/her career. Meeting other people from around the world who share the same passion for the sport. The worst part is the traveling. Long early morning flights, getting up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning to be at the airport. Driving at that time in unfavourable conditions. Cancelled flights, lost luggage, delayed flights which result in missing connections.

Patricia Taylor, Manitoba
In my opinion, the dogs. I love working with the dogs. Finding the good ones, the truly beautiful ones is the best reward there is for all the above listed drawbacks. I also enjoy most exhibitors with just occasional bad sportsmanship surfacing in my ring. The hardest and sometimes worst part, the endless hours of travel where your luggage can and does get lost by the airlines; judging outdoors in either pouring rain, or horrendous heat; some club officials who don’t communicate travel and accommodation arrangements very well; dealing with some AKC reps is a pressure no one really needs. You do have to keep fit for the endless hours on your feet in a bad outdoor ring or on a cement floor. Sometimes uneven mats that can trip you are even worse. But having said all that, I love doing this. The rewards of the great dogs and really nice people are far greater than the few drawbacks.

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Rob is a long time purebred dog enthusiast. Starting out in obedience sports, his main interests morphed into conformation and breeding. Rob is a breeder and exhibitor of Golden Retrievers under the Conquerer prefix.