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Should judges solicit assignments question sparks more facets than a million dollar gemstone because even the Judges can’t agree on the answer!


November 30, 2010

Barbara "BJ" Andrews, SAAB Member


Sources tell us Col. Joe Purkhiser, President of the Dog Judges Assoc. of America (DJAA) has stated (in print) that he will make sure anyone who solicits a judging assignment won’t get any more. We don’t know how Dr. Jerry Penta and the ADSJ (American Dog Show Judges) feel about AKC capitulating to Col. Wally Pede and the SJCA (Senior Conformation Judges Assoc) but we probably will soon…


It is complicated so let’s look at the “judges soliciting assignments” issue which is like cracking a diamond.  First, for those who don’t get ShowSight Magazine, I should clear up something.  My column there was more discreet but I would never lead anyone into thinking that AKC’s decision to recognize judges as Independent Contractors was an epiphany generated by concern for the judges.


The solicitation story has been badly miss-characterized by other publications. This is not a new debate.  AKC did not back down out of “consideration for judges.”  The closest any publication came to the truth was the suggestion that there was a “threat of lawsuit” and even that was wrong.  There was no need for a lawsuit.  Just a little pressure on IRS to enforce the tax code, especially with tax time looming, would have done the deed.  I think it safe to say (so I will) that the AKC Board has long held a vested interest in the “good old boy” system of judging approval.


AKC didn’t give it up willingly no matter what writers baking Brownie Points for AKC would spin for you.  Forget the idea that multi-group judges today suffer long drives or awful flights so they can stand for hours in blazing sun or cold rain out of “love for the sport”.  That was then.  This is now.  New judges may do it because in fact, they love the attention and getting their hands on great dogs.  That’s because they still have stardust on their glasses.


For most, it is a grind made bearable by good club people, good dogs and seeing good friends but I’m the first to say; multi-group judges deserve more than a “thanks for coming.”   And new judges need a chance to become multi-group judges so where’s the debate over whether it’s “right” for judges to advertise or solicit assignments?


Pretend you are Nobody.  Unconnected.  You never did the club thing because you had a family to raise and support.  Still, you managed to breed or handle a few top dogs.  You know dogs and you really feel you can contribute something to the three breeds you’ve worked with for over twenty years.  So you apply.


Or let’s say you have a few breeds but you are tired of going in the judging hole.  You need to have more breeds in order to be “worth it” for the clubs to hire you and pay enough to offset your expenses.  You are thinking about retiring so earning income from something you’ve given more years to than most people spend at one job seems fair.  You know you can do the whole group.  So you apply.


After a lot of hurdles and hoops you nimbly overcame, you are AKC approved for two of the three additional breeds for which you applied.  Or having applied for a full group, you got four more breeds.  You might be happy with that but do clubs start calling?  Who knows (or cares) that you now have a few more breeds on your resume?  You can’t solicit and you aren’t politically or club connected.  You’re not an extrovert; actually you are a bit on the shy side.


If you’re counting on getting assignments from the next Judge’s Directory, you will be disappointed.  Unless you’ve already judged for them, show chairs won’t recognize your name and if you have been on their panel, the club will pass over you because they can’t be hiring the same (nobody) judges every year.  People would talk!


In the past, you couldn’t advertise and were afraid to mention that you had new breeds because someone might report you.  Your friends tapped out their club member friends on your behalf.  But suddenly, things are different after AKC bowed to IRS code.  How you look at the matter of freedom to solicit, to look for job opportunities as a free agent, depends on who you are.  If you have multiple groups, you don’t see this as a problem for new judges.  YOU got to the top right?  YOU are comfortable and the deep dark truth is - you don’t want any new competition. You like being assured of a spot at shows where you know the ropes and the people.  That’s okay.  Who wants to rock that boat?


If you were thinking about applying or you are a provisional judge, the path is suddenly easier.  You don’t have to become a social butterfly or drop discreet hints about your approval and how much you’d like to go to Nowheresville Alabama.  Not with the new AKC soliciting policy in place.


BARBARA "BJ" ANDREWS BIOThe first thing you can do, depending on your judging status, is either curse or thank the Senior Conformation Judges Association for winning you the right to shun the political system and come right out and list your availability on a few websites, maybe run a little business card advert, talk to show people and tell them how much you enjoy their shows and yes, you’d love to judge there.  Common sense, business sense is legal now because the SCJA believes you have the right to solicit an assignment.


Not only that, to ensure that you get a chance to prove yourself, SCJA started the Help The Provisional program.  And AKC had a fit!!!  SCJA multi-group and all breed judges told clubs to keep their fee and “hire provisional judges” so of course there were judges who didn’t like that either.  They said we didn’t need any more judges.


They were half right.  We don’t need any more judges who get assignments the old way.  We need fresh faces, hearts that love the sport, and brains that remember the standards.  We need judges who will be invited back, not because they do favors for the show chairman but because suddenly, they can afford to just judge the dogs, knowing the exhibitors will appreciate honestly applied knowledge.


And that my friends, is the real story.  If there’s any spin in this publication, it’s for truth and common sense.  One thing’s for sure, I rarely show nowadays but if I do, I sure know who NOT to show to.  <smile



Get more information and dig for gold below.


Judges Are Independent Contractors   ~   AKC Ethics   ~   Crime & Punishment


The Purloined Poodle   ~   Judge Boulton Defeats AKC

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