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Diary of a Dog Show Judge

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288 – The Annual, 2018-19

By Sandy Weaver

November 4th – Finished two days of judging at a rare breed show. These are kind of like a match show – less formal, lots of people new to the sport, many who’ve been around for years, and a handful who are just after the ribbons, not the learning opportunity or the chance to have fun with their dog. A few observations from the center of the ring:

1. I love dog people. There were quite a few people whom I recognized from AKC shows, using this weekend like an extended match show opportunity. They brought puppies and veterans – the puppies for training and the veterans so they could once again bask in the glory of being the center of attention. The handlers were gentle and patient with both ends of the life spectrum. There were people who stepped in to help novices, handle dogs for others, and clean up when the ring got soiled. They ran to get competitors who were outside pottying their dogs instead of inside going into Groups or Best. They won graciously, and for the most part, lost graciously, too. There’s that one person with no eye for a dog at all, but with a big heart for the dogs and the sport. I root for people like that to find a good mentor that they’ll actually listen to. Soon.

2. I love puppies. Young males getting their first major noseful of eau de season and not remembering who their person is, what the bait is for, or why the heck the judge is getting between them and that glorious smell. Young bitches not quite sure of themselves to begin with, then getting more confident by the minute. The puppy who is a brick on a lead the first day and then gaits like a dream the second. The boisterous puppies who can’t calm down, won’t calm down, and bouncy-bouncy-bounce until their handler turns every shade of shame-faced red. And the puppies who bribe the judge right from the start, like the young Cardigan who insisted on jumping up to kiss my fingers at the conclusion of his down and back. Puppy kisses…oh, puppy kisses could be the best payment a judge gets.

3. I love veterans. Oh. My. Stars! There were some wonderful old dogs in the ring this weekend. A Kees who never quit, a Chinese Crested who is certain the universe revolves around her, a Golden well past his prime and who looked like he’d rather be on the couch than in the ring, but he was pleased to go around the ring with his person. He seemed to understand the gravity of the moment for her, and to acquiesce graciously to her passion for the sport.

4. I love superintendents and their staff. They work so hard so the rest of us can have fun, they field all the complaints, they grit their teeth as they watch their cleaning deposit evaporate because of dogs pottying where they shouldn’t. They juggle the rings, the stewards and the lunch. They keep the accounting books, the judging books and the title progression books. They get there early after long drives, lug equipment, set up, and work the whole weekend. At the end, as tired as the rest of us, they’re still not done. They pack up, clean up and reverse that long drive to get home, often to start again the next morning. And they manage to smile much of the time. There might be some angel wings tucked under their shirts. I’ve never looked, but they could be there.

Click here to read the complete article
288 – The Annual, 2018-19

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Posted by on Jan 15 2019. Filed under Current Articles, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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