The AKC Realignment Proposal and Smith Judges Approval Process

Potential changes to the AKC's judges approval system and new Group designations have the dog world buzzing

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The Judges Approval System
The latest incarnation of the AKC’s attempt to create the perfect judges approval process has been announced, amended and then re-announced. Looking at the approval systems used in other countries is all well and good, but thought must be given to the fact that what might work well in some other country may be difficult if not impossible to realistically apply here in the US.

Our current “check the box and move forward” judges approval system has not proven to achieve its goals. Its implementation was considered an impartial democratic and fair system that would avoid favoritism, provide for education of applicants and thereby improve judging. The options given the applicants to prepare themselves were clearly outlined and indications were that, once accomplished, the applicant would be granted approval to judge a given breed.

In reality all boxes checked regardless of the number of times ensured little, and much to the surprise of many applicants it was often those that appeared to have the least knowledge and experience who proceeded the most rapidly.

The number of breeds an applicant might be approved for changed frequently during the current judging approval process and while it might be given to understand that eight breeds were the maximum anyone might be approved for, it was not unusual to see as many as double the number granted to individuals during the same “eight maximum” period. At the same time, all appearances indicated that some applications including all designated requirements resulted in fewer than eight breeds. Reasons given for having either over or under the “eight maximum” granted could at times be very difficult to comprehend.

Far too many of those emerging from the process appeared ill-prepared to undertake what they had been given approval for. It seemed those best suited to judge were those who already had the knowledge and experience entering the process and those seemed to be the areas given the least consideration to begin with.

The powers that be at the AKC realized without question there was need for change. The long-awaited Smith Judges Approval Proposal is the result of what Dr. Robert Smith and his committee comprised of Dr. Thomas M. Davies, Mrs. Rosalind Kraus Kramer, Mr. James S. Corbett, Mr. Edd E. Bivin, Mr. James W. Smith, Mr. Robert S. Forsyth and Mr. Darrell L. Hayes has offered.

The details of the Smith proposal appear well thought out and in actuality could work to the advantage of that rare element of the sport that are blessed or perhaps gifted with that proverbial “eye for a dog.”  They are the individuals who warrant special consideration and accelerated promotion.

There is little need in reading beyond this point if the reader does not believe that those who have that eye for a dog exist. I have been around this game of ours for now approaching 60 years. I have watched enough judging and breeding program results that have convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt such a thing exists, and it is what separates the successful from the also-rans. It is just as simple as that.

The positive side of the Smith Committee proposal is that it attempts to assist these desperately needed individuals within the fancy to proceed more rapidly in their judging aspirations. Its entire success, however, lies entirely within the review board whose responsibility it is to actually be able to recognize talent and have the objectivity see it move forward.

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