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Rules Are Made to Be Broken? – Judging Guidelines

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238 – July 2019

By Sandy Weaver

Showing dogs is a subjective sport. This isn’t a news flash to you, right? Dozens – maybe hundreds – of judgement calls are made by breeders, owners, handlers, kennel help and veterinarians long before a dog ever steps foot in the show ring, and once in the ring, those judgement calls continue to be made by the judge as well as the handler and/or owner. Most of the judgement calls are governed, or at least informed, by existing rules – codes of ethics, vaccine protocols, feeding schedules, tack choices, etc. etc. etc. – and most people try hard to follow the rules while making the right choice for their dog.

And, sometimes, doing both isn’t the easiest thing to do – whether you’re the dog’s breeder, owner, handler or judge. Plus, when looking at rules, whose interpretation is the right interpretation?

I recently judged some dogs. The breed I judged can be a bit reactive and part of my job is to make independent decisions. In a puppy class, one of the youngsters was having a hard time. He was fine with me at his head – relaxed, tail wagging, kiss on my wrist after the pearly-white exam – and as soon as I moved around to finish his exam, he forgot his dog-show manners a bit, scooting around so that I was at his head, not on his side. The handler was calm as she and I worked to help him get it right, but it wasn’t to be. He turned on me once too often and I had to make a judgement call – forgive and continue, excuse for one of three different reasons, or DQ.

What would you have done?

If you’re a judge, chances are you’ve made this judgement call before. If not, you’ll probably make it one day soon.

If you don’t judge, have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your hands on a hundred or more dogs a day, some of which would really prefer you not to touch them? And at least one of them perfectly happy to get its way, one way or the other?

What would you have done? Know this – no matter what you choose, there’ll be people who believe you did the wrong thing, people who believe you did the right thing, and one dog that you hope you read correctly, no matter which way your decision went that day.

Click here to read the complete article
238 – July 2019

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