He or She Gets It

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

Under the current AKC guidelines for obtaining the honor of judging a particular breed is the requirement that an approved mentor must have at least 12 years of verifiable experience with the breed in question. Unfortunately, just because one has been exposed in some manner for that minimum amount of time doesn’t equate to having the skills to educate others in the nuances of said breed. As the gene pool of people with a “good eye for a dog” seems to be diminishing, finding just the right teacher can sometimes be a challenge. Finding that person who fills that role is solely on your shoulders.

In an effort to gain further knowledge of our breed, prospective judges and seasoned ones alike will seek out the advice and opinion of those supposedly well versed on the virtues and features. At most shows you will find a AKC representative who due to regular their exposure, may know who is well respected and considered knowledgeable in a particular breed. No doubt, this person or persons will have had years of experience and will have produced and/or judged outstanding examples. It is participants at this level whom we should seek out for education, and in turn they should be willing to provide it.

One simple phrase that has been heard many times by individuals seeking additional information is that you should speak to this person because he or she “gets it.” This simple phrase is actually a badge of honor, and once bestowed upon you, it carries responsibility along with integrity. It is very easy to wander aimlessly around the dog show world and desire to learn more about a breed, but you may never truly understand it to the level you need to—or for that matter, in fact should. After all, as a judge you owe it to any and all exhibitors who enter your ring to do your utmost best to find the examples that adhere as closely to their standard as possible. As a breeder, it is important to emulate those examples that have traits you admire and how you can incorporate those features into your own breeding program. The difficulty is finding that person who is ready and willing to guide you through the many essential points of the breed standard and expound on those conformation problems that crop up, but also highlight those virtues that breeders value, so that you will reward those when recognized in the ring or breed to improve your own kennel’s reputation.

The good news in this scenario is that 99 percent of those people who do “get it” welcome the opportunity to school others on the finer distinctions of the breed. It is exciting and somewhat refreshing to witness their enthusiasm as they explicate about the many great dogs they’ve seen and the little tricks of the trade that they just don’t teach you at the judging institute. Many times, they are well acquainted with top exhibitors and can provide some hands-on opportunities to further your understanding. These “up close and personal” encounters are priceless learning experiences and ones you should look forward to, and they can improve your confidence when approaching some of the heavily campaigned breeds

Don’t be hesitant to approach others and ask them point-blank, “Who in this particular breed ‘gets it’?” One of the aspirations that any judge worth their salt should seek is to obtain the reputation such that they would be recommended with the words “Talk to him [her], because he [she] gets it.”

—David L. Anthony 

First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, September, 2017.

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