Editor's Column | On to a New Year
Literally hours before we send the final pages of this issue to the printer, the final curtain has come down on the ninth annual AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, held again this year in our neighborhood in Long Beach, California. We’ve reported on the finalists in the regular conformation, the Bred-by-Exhibitor competition and the Eukanuba World Challenge on page 22, and we’ll have complete coverage of the entire five days in Long Beach, as well as the four Southern California shows the preceding weekend, in the next issue of DR. But I want to be sure to mention that also announced on the weekend was the honoree named AKC Breeder of the Year, Claudia Orlandi of Topsfield Basset Hounds.
Dr. Orlandi was selected from an impressive group of breeders, one representing each of the Groups, which included Leslie Russell of Avon Farm Irish Setters, Judy Cooper of Tip’N Chip Great Pyrenees, Maripi Wooldridge of Terrydale Airedale Terriers, David Fitzpatrick of Pequest Pekingese,
Jean and Bob Hetherington of Hetherbull Bulldogs and Michelle Edling of Sky Acres Belgian Tervuren. Dr. Orlandi is the seventh individual or couple to be named AKC Breeder of the Year and we congratulate her on this achievement.
I owe an apology to Walter Goodman. In my coverage of the Montgomery County show in the November DR, I mentioned the hard work and dedication of Dr. Josephine Deubler, Montgomery’s Show Chair for almost 30 years, as well as several other devoted members who have given so much to putting on this show, but I failed to mention that Walter Goodman has not only been president of Montgomery since 1986, he has been as active a part of putting on their magnificent shows for all those years — and probably many more — as anyone I mentioned. During the years that Dr. Deubler was Show Chairman, she and Walter conferred often — sometimes on a daily basis and sometimes many times a day! — and worked together consistently regarding the many details that go into putting on a show of this magnitude. So it is a very sincere and humble apology that I offer to Walter for failing to mention the role he has played for so many years in putting on what is one the most loved dog shows in America.
Seldom do so many people give duplicate answers as those who responded to our “5 Minutes With…” questions for American judges in this issue. Of the 10 judges we asked about their pet peeves, five mentioned the use — well, I have to call it mis-use — of bait by those showing dogs to them. So at the shows the past two weeks I watched to see if I could tell what they were talking about. This is an issue that isn’t that familiar to me personally because for several years Poodles are the only breed I’ve shown, and Poodles are shown quite differently than most of the Working, Sporting, Hound and Terrier breeds. Seldom does someone showing a Poodle rely very heavily on bait in the ring, and when it is used it is rather sparing. I say “seldom” although it’s tempting to say never, but I’m sure there might be someone who baits a Poodle the same way they would an Akita, or a Boxer.
Anyway, I ring stewarded at one of these recent shows, primarily for Working breeds, and sure enough I had no trouble at all seeing just what these judges refer to: handler after handler, whether an owner, a professional or an amateur exhibitor, more or less constantly fed their dogs while in the ring, in particular while the judges were examining the dogs. I feel certain that in many cases this has become such a habit that the handlers don’t even realize they’re doing it, but how annoying it must be to try to examine a mouth when the dog has just taken a bite of liver or chicken. And how overwhelmingly annoying it must be about the hundredth time it happens during a day’s judging. I decided to alert everyone who shows dogs to the frequency at which this is mentioned so that we’ll all be more aware of how and when we feed (or bait, although they really are not the same thing) our dogs in the ring. Next time you show your dog just give it some thought, and try to see from the judge’s perspective the times when it would be inopportune for the dog to be chewing on a hunk of liver or a bite of cheese or hot dog. And while we’re at it, let’s also think a little more about the second frequently mentioned subject: moving dogs around the ring at a faster — sometimes much faster — pace than is natural for the breed. This subject also came up several times at the past few shows, and all of the people discussing it agree that this is a rampant problem. Not only does it do a disservice to the particular dog being judged, it also contributes to the genericization of our breeds. Judges become accustomed to that which they observe over and over again, and if 99 out of 100 Shih Tzus or Cairns or Wire Fox Terriers are raced around the ring at break-neck speed, eventually judges become inured to it. The last thing we want is for judges to expect something from our breeds that is atypical! The speed at which dogs are moved around the ring is not, of course, a new topic, but it is one of which we must be mindful.
As we close 2009 and head into 2010, all of us at Dogs in Review wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year, in which we as a fancy make positive progress in our many engagements and battles. I hope you enjoy our Annual issue.
Christi McDonald, Editor
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