AMAZING DOG JUDGING EXPERIENCE
By a Still Intact Pat Gilbert
Some years ago I judged a rare breed dog show. I got to judge the whole show including Best in Show, Reserve Best in Show, and Best Puppy in Show.
Now for the amazing part. Those of you out there who know me will get an even better kick out of this story.
I received a contract along with FCI standards for those breeds most likely to show up. The contract said I should understand and respect the working dog temperament. Oh Oh.
As I started reading the standards, I realized it was going to be a major feat to return home with all my body parts intact. Some of the breeds are strictly hands off for the judges. Some of the breeds are hands on at the judge's and/or handler's discretion. One of the breeds is even supposed to be agitated with a big stick and a gun! All of those hands off or discretionary hands on have to have full and complete dentition.
I went to the hairdresser to look really spiffy even though the weather report called for some light rain.
I woke up at 5 a.m. to get ready. It was already raining. Fortunately the show was only about an hour and a half away. I drove through torrential downpours to get there.
I arrived in a lacy silver knit suit with matching slippers and my Canadian Dog Judges' Association badge proudly displayed on my lapel.
I didn't have my Duckies because I left them out on the back deck right side up and they were soaked. I did take my Big Bird huge yellow trench coat.
The show was top heavy for Herding/Flock Guardian and Working dogs. Another Oh Oh.
My protection from the elements was an 8X8 dining tent. That tent was also used for examination of dogs.
Well, I was doing OK and feeling fairly comfortable until one of the Mastino breeds walked in the ring. These dogs weighed over 190 pounds and were on thank God huge chains. Their handlers were even bigger than their dogs and mostly biker types. They too were wearing chains everywhere.
That's when the rain turned into more torrential downpours. I didn't have binoculars with windshield wipers to check dentition but was able to anyway from outside the tent. ;) You don't want to invade this breed's space.
My ring steward asked if I wanted an umbrella. I was thinking what are you nuts! This is the breed you are supposed to smack with astick!
I walked around the dogs to evaluate them and moved them. I was very careful not to make direct eye contact. I made my placements and one man was left out of the ribbons.
He was easily 6"5" and came with his dog in a sidecar attached to his Harley. The dog had his own helmet with flames and goggles along with the required spiked collar and heavy chains. The man demanded his ribbon. I explained politely that there were no more ribbons to give out. He said "I WANT A RIBBON AND I WANT IT NOW!".
I said "sorry sir I have no more" and walked over to the table to stand behind my ring steward. My ring steward was 5'6" and probably 140 pounds soaking wet. Come to think of it, he was soaking wet. I asked my ring steward to “make him go away”. I was also thinking I can usually run like stink but I just got off of crutches so I wasn't getting anywhere quickly. Besides I wasn't sure I could outrun the dog if the handler released him.
I had a brainstorm. I told the handler that there would be ribbons tomorrow. I knew I wasn’t going to be there. He finally left the ring much to my relief. I don’t know if he returned the next day.
This is really comical. The only dog that made a serious attempt to grab me was a Toy Fox Rat Terrier.
Now picture this. Best in Show was ready. You can't really have them in a line up because some of the dogs are either people or dog aggressive. I had them spread out all over the ring in the pouring rain.
The woman with the Toy Fox Rat Terrier was very novice and misunderstood my directions. She tried to put her little dog between a Dogue de Bordeaux and a Catahoula Leopard Dog. I asked her to pick up her dog and step to a far corner. She still didn't understand. The Dogue at this time had big stringers running from his mouth as he was eyeballing the Companion Dog. The Catahoula Leopard Dog was also very interested in a possible snack.
I wanted to yell Drop the Chalupa! if there was an incident but that would not have been professional. Nor would it have been very judgely.
I explained to the woman with the Toy Fox Rat Terrier that her little dog was wet and cold and needed a snuggle. She picked up her dog and stood next to a Black Russian Terrier dangling her tiny dog as she smothered it with kisses. Of course the little dog thought it was tough and started growling at the very big Black Russian Terrier. I finally talked the woman with the little dog into going under the tent by herself. Whew!
I carried on with my judging and finally gave Best in Show to the Dogue de Bordeaux. Apparently that was his third Best for the weekend. My Reserve Best in Show was the Catahoula Leopard Dog. My Best Puppy in Show was a Sporting pup. It was a Munsterlander Small.
The show club was very considerate and cordial with me. They did their best to protect me and make me more comfortable. They had people (without big sticks) standing by to prevent any serious incidents.
All I can say more is that I was thoroughly drenched but I enjoyed myself. The rare breed exhibitors are totally different from what you see at regular point shows. The whole show was really informally run but educational for me.
What an experience!
I guess they liked my attitude because they invited me back to judge another of their shows.
It was one of the most amazing dog show experiences I have ever had in my life.
Call me nuts, but I still judge rare breed shows.