From Spectator to Judge
By Amy Fernandez
Shows like Westminster are a whole different ball game when you come without a dog to watch the show. The spectator experience truly does provide all of that fabled glamour, excitement, and adrenaline rush, which is almost impossible to tap into if you are spending the week lugging crates, fighting crowds, and struggling to keep dogs looking tip-top under impossible conditions. Bert Easdon knows that better than most. His Yakee Pekingese are famed worldwide. He doesn’t need to prove anything. Therefore, when he comes to Westminster, he’s here on vacation. He hadn’t visited New York since 2013 and there was plenty he wanted to see and do.
That didn’t include devoting all of day one getting into and out of Newark due to snow, traffic, and airport delays, but that’s how it goes. Still, he had a whole week ahead of him; at least that’s the way it looked when he finally got settled into his hotel that night. That’s when the phone rang. It’s a good thing he thought to pack a suit because guess what Bert, you’re not busy tomorrow, how about stepping in as a last minute replacement judge at Progressive?
Back home Bert’s judging schedule is packed and he admits that he would like to cut back and devote more time to showing his own dogs. But he had done three assignments for Progressive over the years and he is an internationally noted Toy specialist. And he was going to be at the show anyway. So, he was up at dawn and getting into that suit and going to work. He covered Luc Boileau’s assignment of Brussels Griffon, Chinese Cresteds, Pugs, ETs, IGs, Chins, and Papillons. And how did it go?
He said, “Overall, the quality of the entry was quite high. I was especially impressed with the Italian Greyhounds They were so typey, and the toplines were just beautiful. The Cresteds were also very nice; some were truly hairless. You never see that in the ring in Britain anymore” adding that he had recently judged the breed in Norway where he was treated to another disturbing trend. He continued, “The Powderpuffs were done up in topknots. Most of them had one, but one was done up like a Maltese with two. The exhibitors tried to tell me that it was for cleanliness, because the dogs couldn’t see properly with the hair in their faces. Well, if they had proper coats, that wouldn’t be a problem.” That was the end of Chinese Crested topknots in Bert Easdon’s ring.
On a more positive note, he noticed another encouraging trend at Progressive. “I was really pleased to see that so many young people are getting into showing over here and they are really enthusiastic about it. We really need more of that in Britain.”
Bert’s a big advocate for getting out there and starting young. Easdon says, “That’s the only way to really learn a breed. I started with a Boston when I was 21. No one was showing them up in Scotland then, but I just went in there and learned.” The learning curve got a little steeper when he switched to Shih Tzu. From there it was Pekes and Bichons. There’s nothing like jumping in at the deep end. He admits that it wasn’t easy but he’s got an interesting perspective on it. “Your first show dog should always be a bad one. That’s how you learn. If you have a good one, you’re going to ruin it anyway. I spent a lot of money on the next one [dog] and of course it wasn’t any good either. Everyone learns that way,” he says.
He certainly did. These days Bert’s been showing a grandson of his 2003 Crufts BIS winner Ch. Yakee A Dangerous Liaison by the name of Ch. Yakee Ooh Aah Cantona (aka Eric). Along with winning the group at Crufts last year, Eric has racked up an astounding 60 CCs making him a new breed record holder.
That said, it’s pretty obvious why Bert comes to Westminster strictly to watch. And yes, his vacation eventually got back on track Saturday. Along with Westminster and the Metro specialties, he managed a hardcore shopping trip to Chinatown and a Broadway show seeing Glenn Close in the revival of Sunset Boulevard.
He’ll be back, and just in case- he will definitely bring along a suit.
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