TABLE FOR TWO – SAUCER OF MILK FOR ONE
By Patricia H. Gilbert
I have been reading various posts on the internet with interest about what can and cannot be, should and should not be done as far as numbers of animals together when judged on a table. Exhibitors should be aware of the various breed specific judging techniques used when judging table breeds. The dog is evaluated on the table and judged on the ground.
No, I don't put two dogs together up on a table. No, I don't send two dogs down and back together. I don't need to. My brain works differently. Those who feel they need to for a complete assessment can. We don't need to poke fun at those who use different methods. Whatever it takes to do the job is fair.
My saying is: “Monkey See. Monkey Do. Monkey Get In Trouble Too.” So please read on and understand why.
CAVEAT - Know why you are doing something and be able to explain why. Don't go through the motions because someone else did and you want the moves to make it appear you know. That is when you look and sound dumbest. I saw a judge at the Best In Show level pick up a Peke for the very first time in her life. How did I know? Pekes are front end loaded and if you know the breed it is common knowledge. She obviously saw a Peke judge lift to check weight and weight distribution but did not know why ot how the judge did it. Sooooo She lifted the Peke and the dog went straight up in the air and over her head and down the backside. That dog was on his way into auguring into the ground head first. That is as pale as you will ever see Hiram as he grabbed his dog on the way down. I was actually holding my breath and was relieved that the handler's reflexes were so fast.
Sometimes things are done by tradition. Tradition is not the end of the world as we know it. Pekes have historically been lined up on long tables and assessed in that fashion. Remember the old bench shows or am I dating myself? We who do AKC shows would only put two dogs on a table. If you are elsewhere, it is not awful to line them up on tables.
Yorkshire Terrier handlers in other parts of the world place their brush on the table for the judge to use. You only need to brush lightly once to check quality and color. In AKC shows I use my hand to lift the offside of the coat to see drape, texture and color.
Some Maltese judges ask to see the feet. It is not to admire the freshly cut toenails. It is to admire good and black pigment.
You lift the tail of a Pug to check the set. You do not need to straighten out the tail. That will hurt the dog. You do need to and should check for kinks.
What we need to be aware of is what works well for one breed does not always work well for other breeds. We should not carry something from one breed to another unless we have a purpose in mind. We must above all else be breed specific. Honoring a tradition is being breed specific.
Two Min Pins on a table is at the very least entertaining. One is entertaining. Two are a party. Three Cavies any day at any time are a party. They don't have bad days. Chihuahuas, a breed that can be sparred, should never be put two on a table. Also don't mix the sexes if you don't have to do it. Girls get girlie and boys get studly.
Breeds of dogs that are traditionally judged on the ground or table CAN BE touched on the floor. Shelties can be evaluated on the table and then be rechecked on the ground. The Sheltie should be confident and hold his ground and be approachable on the ground. I wouldn't think twice about rechecking muscle tone on a Whippet or Basset Hound on the ground.
Of course if you are thinking generically, then the Sheltie, Basset Hound or Whippet should never be touched on the floor.
We all take information in differently. Some judges are more visual and some are more tactile. When you get the judge that combines both, then you have a great judge. I think if we honor tradition, keep it safe, and respect the rules, whatever it takes to make a full and complete assessment is fair.