JUDGES THAT ALSO EXHIBIT!
By E. M. Gilbert Jr.
Dog judging is like umpiring baseball, as a retired Big League Umpire wrote “You must be 100% perfect on all your calls and decisions, and then you must improve from there.”
The AKC “Guidelines for Conformation Dog Show Judges state: “Breeding and Exhibiting: Judges start in the sport as breeders and exhibitors. It is natural to want to continue these activities after becoming a judge. AKC understands this.
“Judges who exhibit are frequently a major source of complaints. This is even more so if you handle your own dogs. …
“You can combine exhibiting and judging without ever causing a complaint, if you are prudent in how and when you exhibit. Remember, if you exhibit you should expect to be subject to special scrutiny. …”
Judges that exhibit seems to be a negative issue with certain people in the dog fancy. Exclusively losers.
If you want to be the most popular person at a dog show - don’t judge.
First, it is my opinion, that all judges should be involved with dogs - not just with judging dogs. Involvement can vary from just owning and loving a dog - they will be paid back fully with that unconditional love that all humans desire - to breeding, showing and/or having dogs exhibited for them.
There are circumstances that do not permit this involvement - living in an apartment where pets are forbidden. Being single and judging and/or traveling a great deal also prevents the involvement. But even then involvement can take the shape of working with your kennel club, and possibly putting on, or assisting at conformation handling classes. Another outlet would be to present a breed seminar, or mentor other judges on your primary breeds.
Instead of receiving condemnation, judges that breed, show or exhibit should be commended for their dedication to pure-bred dogs. The Guidelines state: “Judges are presumed to be honest, competent and dedicated.” Yet “if you exhibit you should expect to be subject to special scrutiny.” The same scrutiny as any other exhibitor - Yes; special scrutiny - No!
Many judges miss life in the whelping box, watching a litter develop and the smell of puppy breath. Why, just because they judge, should they be robbed of these great moments in life?
As a judge, that occasionally is an exhibitor, I keep in touch with the exhibitors view of judging. Yes, and I see some of the problems - a judge that obviously hates or is scared of the breed they are judging. (Why did they accept the assignment?) A judge that is watching the next ring instead of the dog he told to go down and back. When I check, in almost all cases, the judges that show a lack of interest are also those that are not involved anymore with purebred dogs in their life.
I consider the biggest problem facing the purebred dog fancy today is the lack of dedicated breeders. A breeder works for years developing a line - going through the ups and downs of a breeding program - then decides to judge. They receive pressure to quit breeding - just the person we need breeding. The pressure is there whether spoken openly or not. The easy path is to opt out of breeding.
The only real conflict I see to an active involvement in breeding, showing and exhibiting is purely in the mind of the beholder. Why should the fact that a person is an outstanding breeder, suddenly change them into an ogre when they start judging? The reason they were permitted to judge was that they bred and exhibited. Yet many feel forced to give up the very reason that permitted them to become a judge in the first place. How stupid! No wonder we see a thinning of the ranks of the real breeders. Yes, the vacuum will be filled when the experienced breeder leaves the ranks to become a judge. And you wonder why some breeds are in trouble. Wonder no more.
And just the opposite happens, breeders that would make good judges, refuse to judge because they feel they would have to give up their breeding. How many Annies have we lost due to this type of thinking? We’ll never know as long as the stigma to judges breeding, showing and exhibiting lasts.
Yes, negativism is rampant and is damaging the sport of purebred dogs.
Support your involved judge instead of making false accusations about them. Involved judges have fresh memories of the importance of doing a competent job of judging.
All judges shall meet the criteria stated in the Guidelines: “ Breed Knowledge …, Procedure …, and Impartiality … (judges) decisions are based solely on the merits of the dogs being judged.” Yes, judges should be involved. As Harry Truman stated: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”