“DNS”—Rethinking “Do Not Show”

Cardigan Welsh Corgi Breed Column

DNS … After a frustrating day at the dog show, one might come home and place these three letters in a database next to the name of a particular judge who just didn’t meet your standards that weekend. However, let’s take a hard look at what those  letters mean and see just what it should take for a judge to earn that designation in your little black show record book

When perusing the numerous premium lists for shows, seasoned exhibitors will recognize those judges who generally have a good eye for their breed or perhaps have consistently awarded their stock in the show ring. Some exhibitors are so confident with their latest examples they will enter under nearly any judge, knowing that the general competition in a particular area may allow for a supposed “easy win”—of course all of us are aware of the consequences of the best-laid plans!

Most of us keep records of past judging experiences, but sometimes we will give a newbie or unfamiliar judge a chance to prove themselves by entering under them. After all, how will you ever get a feel for a particular judge’s abilities if you don’t give them the opportunity to adjudicate your stock? If you truly believe you have a good example of the breed, then you should have no hesitation entering under an unfamiliar judge. Of course with today’s social media, you can pretty much get the inside scoop on just about any judge; nevertheless, remember this is someone else’s opinion and could be based on a pointless opinion of which you have no verifiable information.

Now that you have entered and unfortunately came home with a second-place ribbon and a somewhat sour taste in your mouth, you pound out your frustrations on your home computer judge’s database. Let’s review the situation. Lesson one: If you really gave the competition a good look, it is very possible you lost to a good dog. There is no shame in losing to a quality example. Remember judging is subjective, and the final decision may have been a close one, on ear placement, eye color, or tail carriage. Only the judges know what swayed that final decision to point to a particular dog. Lesson two: Have you really assessed the qualities of your own exhibit—or even better, asked someone whose opinion you value about the virtue of your latest exhibit? This is the time to be honest and forthright. One can easily say to themselves, Oh, yes, my bitch is turned out a little too much in the front … but gosh, she has a great topline. You have justified your entry in your mind, but that may not be the criteria list that the judge is using to make their decision. Lesson three: How are your handling abilities? Again, have you ever had someone provide some constructive criticism of your dog-handling skills? A video of you at a show is a great tool for reviewing just what you and your dog look like as a team in the ring. You have not have realized your freestack was so poorly executed, or that the speed of your gaiting was far too slow and wasn’t showing the proper reach and drive that you are sure your dog has. This can be a huge eyeopener. View it with a trusted friend, and be thick-skinned. You only stand to improve your chances of a successful day if you can honestly look at both your and your dog’s strengths and weaknesses.

Perhaps a better place for those three letters denoting “Do not show” may be beside your or your dog’s name,rather than the judge’s. Think about it!

-David L. Anthony 

First published in the AKC Gazette Digital Edition, December 2018.

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