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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FROM DOG SHOW JUDGES, BREEDERS, EXHIBITORS & HANDLERSYour Letters To Editor are one of our most-read features!

 

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LETTERS ON “WHO JUDGES DOGS”

Click here if you missed "Who Judges Dogs, Judges or AKC?"

Incestuous: Perhaps I'm going to be in the minority, but, if anything, I think there should be MORE oversight over judges than is currently the case. The "sport" has become too incestuous, with AKC reps who become judges, and professional handlers who become reps. There is no professional class of AKC rep currently in existence, people who love dogs, and love dog shows, but don't owe anyone anything because "back in the day, he/she gave me some big wins, or got my start as his/her assistant," or whatever.

    We have FAR too many judges who are so visually and physically impaired that they cannot, honestly, do justice to the work they are paid to do... Yet, I don't see reps removing these people when it is clear they can barely stand, walk or see. I do not see reps taking action against the MANY judges who simply close their eyes and point when they are in breeds they do not like or do not recognize any handler on a dog.

     I've been in multiple situations were legitimate complaints about judges were made to the AKC reps at the show, who just sort of brushed off the complaints with a shrug and an obligatory, "I'll talk to him/her." And of course, NOTHING ever happens.

     Judging dogs should not be seen as a full-time job … too many, it would appear, rely so much on this supplemental income from judging every weekend that they do not have the ability or will to take themselves off the stage when they are no longer physically or mentally capable. They can sleepwalk through many of their breeds without any concern that an AKC rep will call them it. They can do this because they know the reps are handlers they were putting up for years, went to dinner with after the shows, or had working for them when they (the judges) were still breeding and exhibiting.

     Every other sport has a professional class of judges/referees/umpires, as well as league officials. What we have now is a situation where last week's judge is this week's exhibitor. This year's rep, was judge X's handler last year. None of this would ever fly in the NBA or the NFL. Why are we tolerating it in dog shows?

     The reps, in turn, look the other way, out of, sometimes, a weird sense of loyalty to these people who "gave me my start." Just look at the ranks of AKC's reps right now and pick out how many are former professional handlers. Being an AKC rep has become a retirement gig for handlers, just like being a judge has become a retirement gig for reps. And the circle goes round, and round, and round. Thank you for acknowledging my response. Corey Rigoni - Renaissance Bassets – MI

Editor: astute observations, the question is can this system be changed?

Judged by Rep: These ideas sound good to me. As a provisional judge (for IS, approved for ES and juniors) who was second guessed by an AKC rep I would truly like to be "judged by judges". Meantime I have about given up due partly to my husband’s health problems and partly to the rep in question. Eventually I must find a mentor. Frances Stevens

Another judge on Reps: Boy have you hit it on the head.... I was getting ready to write an article on this very problem of the fox guarding the hen house. I already knew of one judge who refused to get any more breeds because she was, to her way of thinking, abused by an AKC rep telling her she put up the wrong (dog) at a specialty SHE was selected to judge at. She did so because she believed the dog she chose was better and it took confidence to do so. I've been waiting years for a judge I love hiring to finish out the working group. He told me he was done, with a rather disgusted look on his face. Too bad as he is a very good judge and his assignments pull good numbers.

     It was quite a while ago but I overheard an old time, well respected judge worrying to his wife that he might not recognize the dog that won Westminster in his ring that day. She told him not to worry about it, just pick the dog he felt was the best example. No wonder he always brought her to his assignments.

     Lately I've been hearing some awful tales … can only be verified by those judges involved or witnesses and that's the problem if these people want to continue to judge. In one instance the wife of an AKC higher up entered the ring after this judge made his awards and lambasted him for not putting up the #1 dog in that breed... and she allegedly had been giving him indicators from outside the ring. He gave her his reasons. I'm told she accosted him when he went to the restroom - once again. This woman had no official business telling a judge what to do and even if she had, this was his assignment and he was not being observed on a new breed. Other provisional judges report they have been told to always go with the #1 dog. Well, first off, if judges say they aren't influenced by magazines...how the heck do they know who the # 1 dog is?

     Secondly what are the qualifications of the reps telling these judges that? Are they having to jump through all the hoops I'm having to jump through - and start over every time they change the requirements - to become a provisional judge after 40 years in my breed and 24 shows as chairman? The thing is...they are safe making these stupid comments because they are the ones passing or turning down applications for new breeds from these judges. Who, if they want to judge, is going to call foul?

     Perhaps they should be making tapes or giving sworn testimony to Mr. Pede's group, as should exhibitors that observe signals from reps on judging choices. The names could be kept from AKC but the point could be made. Why should those of us not campaigning a dog bother to enter beyond getting our CH.... and why should honest people with integrity want to go through the judging process if their knowledge and love of the sport and dogs isn't allowed to come into play? Sue McClure - Hounds of Legacy & Animal Art by McClure

Open forum, any subject, just keep it short!  Send your:: Letter To Editor.

Sick Of Politics: Why are the judges being told by the AKC to put up professional handlers and not owner-handlers? I was told it was the "bread and butter" of the professionals and that owner-handlers have money to waste on their hobbies.

    I for one am sick of the politics! Each dog should be judged fairly... based on the DOG!!! Not the handler at the end of the lead who has wined and dined the judges on numerous occasions. It's sickening! And they can’t understand why more and more people are turning to UKC or other venues to compete with their dogs! It is completely UNFAIR in the world of AKC Breed Ring. The public needs to know how bad it really is.

    The whole dog show circuit is a sore subject for me. I am what most would consider a "newbie" in the breed ring sport. I have been showing my dogs, mostly owner-handled for about 5 years. I am in a very political ring, Dobermans, which does not help matters. I find myself not taken seriously by my peers. Before Dobes, I had Rottweilers, so I am not new to the world of dogs.

    I pick my shows based on venue locations within a certain number of miles from home. That's based on when I can afford to show to begin with. I am not married to a doctor or lawyer or make a gazillion $$$ a year, so my pocketbook for dog show entries is not endless. How some of these other owners show week after week, is beyond me!!!

    I don’t pick my shows like the professional handlers do. They travel to "their" judges. The ones they wine, dine, and schmooze with. We all know that they even (send their apprentices) to other shows to cover a larger show area. Handlers tell the clubs which judges to pick for the shows, so that they have those guaranteed wins and boost up the entries. Me? Well I guess I am just there to help have a dog in the ring to bring up the points.

    I don’t like the idea of hiring a handler for my dogs. I have done it out of necessity. … the judges pretty much know who they are going to "put-up". I have some nice dogs, I am in no way saying they are the best, but when you have a handler showing a dog that is a total PIS... and win... well...

    I have been in the ring a few times where I should have had the ring steward call for an AKC rep because the judge didn’t bother to physically examine the dog I was showing. I didn’t, simply because I didn’t want to be viewed as a troublemaker or un-sportsmanlike. Yeah I've tried playing their games, wearing low-cut blouses to show cleavage for the old perverts, but the results are always the same. The judge puts up the handler. Now, I am not the best owner-handler in the world and I might not present my dog the best, but I do the best I can. The judges should be able to see BEYOND my faults and look at my dog. This is one of the reasons (not avoiding the biggest being POLITICS) I have turned to showing UKC.

    I am honestly tired of spending money on entries, which seem to keep going up. Plus they tack on parking daily.... We showed this last weekend 4 days in a row. Entries were horrible!!!! We won but there were no points! I am sick of it. Frankly, I am about ready to quit showing AKC and only enter my dogs in the United Kennel Club shows. The competitors are nicer, competition itself is more enjoyable, it isn’t as cut-throat and nasty, and CHEAPER!!!

    I wish I knew what to tell you about getting exhibitors together to discuss the problems at hand. It seems to me that many of the judges out there need to be forced into retirement. … my dealings with the AKC breed ring are going to be limited in the near future. I don’t see things getting any better. Thanks! Andrea Smeltzer

As a judge ... and still an exhibitor, I would like to say I have been in the ring for 40 years and in my humble opinion the judging was much better when I started showing! That system was a test, with the AKC Rep in the room, no open book. No seminars, just go out there talk to other breeders, get to know the breed and judge. Judges talked about having an eye for a dog, they worked at it and the reps watched new judges for ring procedure only! If you did not do a good job, your entries dropped and you would seek help from well known breeders, and more than one.

    Then the judge's groups put together seminars, really good ones, well balanced and well presented. We attended these seminars and learned a lot! The AKC has now taken these over, and they are struggling to do them as well.

    Now it seems the judges live in fear of reps who earned a living relying on owners who were unable to show their own dogs, or dogs that where "hard to finish". Or a dog that needed to be "presented," groomed and traveled, that I can see. We can't all be out there every weekend like the handlers. In any case you are buying recognition or status for your dog. Add a few well placed ads and some average dogs become top dogs! I remember discussions with other breeders about average dogs, it was usually decided that a handler would have to be hired to "politically finish this one".

     NOW they are the reps deciding who is showing the best dog??? Evaluating the judges? They are human, they will naturally be influenced by their former associates, other handlers and clients, who may or may not have shown or bred good dogs.

    These same handlers fly through the judging system attaining group after group! This whole system becomes very incestuous! Keeping the power and judgment in the hands of the few! I truly believe the average person looking in from the outside can see this more clearly than a lot of us who are close to it.

    That may be what has led the dog show world down the "dying sport" trail. Often when I attend shows I look around and can count the number of exhibitors under the age of 50 on one hand. We have a shortage of group judges but continue on the current long expensive trail for approving new judges. Oh did I say expensive? You bet, judges spend a fortune attending seminars, hotels, food, flying and who benefits, certainly not the exhibitors! We may have some really good potential judges out there who don't have the fat pocket books it takes to pay for all this!

    Our sport rewards those who have made a living on it all their lives and punishes the back bone, THE BREEDERS & EXHIBITORS! They are the Tax payers of the sport! Sharon Smith

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