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What Judges Could Learn from a Silent Movie Star

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84 – October, 2020

By Sandy Weaver

Remember watching the Charlie Brown cartoon TV shows? The kids in the show could all converse normally, but when an adult was talking it sounded like, “Wah wah waaah wah wah.” Whaaaa? Somehow it managed to make some sort of sense and, in good sitcom fashion, everything worked out well in the end.

Fast-forward to the days of COVID and dog shows where everyone is wearing a mask or a face shield. If you’ve been to a show post-lockdown, you’ve probably flashed back to those Charlie Brown days – whaaaaa? Understanding each other while wearing masks is difficult at best. Add barking dogs, announcements on loudspeakers and maybe the sound of air handlers or generators and it can be almost impossible to understand what some judges are saying.

If she were still around and judging, there’d be one judge no one would have trouble understanding: Lina Basquette. If you’ve been in dogs a while, perhaps you remember watching her in the ring as a handler or as a judge. She bred and showed Great Danes from the late 1940s through the early 1980s under the Honey Hollow kennel name. She had top winning dogs and eventually transitioned to the center of the ring. Whether guiding a dog into the winner’s circle or awarding a dog to that same storied place, Lina Basquette put on a show

And why not? After all, she grew up in show business.

Lina was “discovered” when she was 8, dancing to a record playing on a Victrola in her father’s drugstore. The RCA Victor representative hired her to be part of their exhibit at the 1915 World’s Fair. She was taken in for a short time as a dance protégé by none other than Anna Pavlova, the prima ballerina, and ended up as principal dancer in the Zigfield Follies.

Think of every dancer you’ve ever seen – you know how they feel and what they want by the way they use their bodies, right? The same was true of Lina Basquette. It was true when she danced, it was true when she was a silent movie star, and it was true when she judged dogs. Even when no words were spoken, exhibitors and spectators always knew exactly what Judge Basquette intended, just by the way she used her body, arms and hands. Sometimes a head tilt was thrown in for good measure or good humor.

Click here to read the complete article

84 – October, 2020


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