LINES FROM LINDA: FROM JUNIOR TO JUDGE, ERIC RINGLE LIVED HIS DREAMS
Ch. Reann’s No Jacket Required takes the Group at K.C. of Beverly Hills under Mr. Tom Stevenson. “Higgins” is handled by Eric Ringle.
I never had to become involved with politics. Fortunately, both Jim Crowley and Dennis Sprung are still there, so, I think things should stay in relatively good shape. My main function at AKC was to produce the Breed Standard Video Series. I produced about half of all the breeds; Midge Mar- tin was my predecessor and she did the other half. It was a great experience. Just think of the top breeders in each breed and the dogs assembled from throughout the country. We did eight breeds every six months, so the work on each video was about three weeks long. It was a unique education. Working with the committees was always interesting. On more than one occasion, a committee mem- ber would call to inform me that he could not possibly work with “so-and-so” on the same committee. By the time they got through the script meeting or an editing session, they would come to real- ize that most had the common interest of their breed at heart, and how much they were of the same opinion after all. After a meet- ing, some of these people (who had not spoken in twenty years) would be off together to a New York City restaurant or to see a Broadway play. When I decided to leave the AKC, a few of my co-workers took me to lunch and brought up the prospect of judging. It made sense, as my position at AKC was sort of like having my own private col- lege for the job. The following morning, there was a FedEx pack- age with nine breed applications on my doorstep. I applied for eight breeds. After almost ten years now, I do the Working and Herding Groups, and about one-third of the Sporting. I really enjoy judging. The other judges are very helpful and supportive. I worry about the sport’s future, as some of our most beloved judges are getting up there in years. There are many good, new, dedicated judges, but I’m afraid there are also those who
attend seminars and participate in the in-ring observing just to check off the right boxes on the application, and who have no real talent for judging. I suppose, however, that there have always been all levels of quality in judging, just like anything else. I consider my approach to judging as being basically scientific, with a touch of art added in the equation. It is a challenge to apply the breed standards to the living animals that you see before you on a given day. I try to imagine a couple of old-timers in the breed that I’m judging, watching me to see whether or not I’m doing justice to their breed. My friends who show under me in my own breed understand that I am just evaluating the dogs on the day. Sometimes, a friend whose dog does not win may cop a bit of an attitude, but it is soon forgotten. I have to remind myself that I was sometimes fairly intense when I was showing. People in other breeds, who do not yet know me, appear to settle down a bit when they realize that I am just trying to do an honest job, with the points of the breed standard in mind. All in all, it’s been a fun ride. I’ve met a lot of good people and have many fond memories. I do wonder from time to time where I would be and what I would be doing if I had chosen the other option presented to me at age thirteen, when the Beagle/Bassett made its way onto our front porch.
I hope many more youngsters will follow in Eric Ring- le’s footsteps by deciding to begin a lifelong journey in our wonderful sport of purebred dogs.
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