THE LEARNING CLUSTER JUDGE Q&A
This is a baseline. Other clubs will modify, change and find innovations that might not as yet been thought of. Shows outside will present new challenges. With that said—it was a great start.
mainly through Photoshopping the judge into the pictures to mini- mize contact. This last element seemed to bring out an element of our community in a negative manner when social media “medical experts” expressed their displeasure with judges not wearing masks and standing too close to the exhibitors. The judge was not even in the photo area when the dog’s pictures were being taken. In my case, at the beginning of the day, I was photographed with the photogra- pher and assistant social distancing while these pictures were taken. At no time at this show did I observe (as a medical professional) anything that would have put me, my personal family or my dog show family at risk for Covid-19. Were rules noticeably enforced? Not only were the rules enforced by those putting on the show, the handlers and exhibitors went above and beyond to assist and make sure that the show was done as requested and required. Did exhibitors practice social distancing? Yes, generally. It is a dog show and hard habits are difficult to break. Occasionally, there was a little clustering, but before anyone could point it out, the problem was self-identified and resolved. Indicators in the ring and around the ring assisted in this process. What was it like to judge without spectators? For me personally, it was like any other show. My focus is in the ring, not outside. How “clean” did I find the facility overall? The facility was a dirt floor arena. It was well packed and did not become particularly loose with use. It was clean, people kept it clean, and I for one would hope that many more dog shows are allowed at this facility. Was everyone wearing a mask and did the dogs react to them? Everyone wore masks while they were in the building (during and after the show). The few that did not have masks with them (one policeman comes to mind) was offered a mask immediately and he took it with a heartfelt thanks to the show staff. Generally, the dogs did not react negatively to the masks. While I had a few exhib- its that were not as steady under the exam, I came away with the impression it was the temperament on the day rather than the expe- rience of the mask. Exhibits just are not getting the exposure to the show environment, but [I] believe that the handlers and owners are giving the canines exposure to the masks. Was I pleased with the ring set-up (separate entrances and exits)? Yes. Initially, it took a few breeds for me to find a procedure that worked for me to optimize my time in the ring with the dogs. Ini- tially the entrance and exit were almost as far apart as possible. Over the few days, it was observed and implemented that the same result could be done with slightly less distance. These modifica- tions decreased the amount of walking for the stewards (especially if there was only one for the ring) as they not only called the class into the ring, in most cases also pulled ribbons for presentation as
the exhibitors left the ring. These modifications maintained social distancing and at the same time increased efficiency. How would I rate my experience overall? First, overall it was great to be back at a dog show. I thought I knew how much I missed them, but the impact did not hit me until the middle of the first day. I will say that while it was a great cluster of shows and I enjoyed myself, there was a difference that I felt. I enjoy that my peers ask me for my opinion. I am honored that my peers bring me canines that they love, and that love is seen in their faces, their smiles and their experience in the ring. I smile when I judge because there is nothing more fun and brings joy to my heart [than] to be able to have this experience with them. Masks impact this. Social dis- tance impacts this. Not shaking hands or touching impacts this. I came away with a feeling that this experience was a little “ster- ile” when compared to past experiences. This is not bad or good— just different. Would I say that the shows set a good example for other clubs to follow? I would say yes, these shows are a good example. But with that said, there is more work to be done. This is a baseline. Other clubs will modify, change and find innovations that might [not] as yet been thought of. Shows outside will present new challenges. With that said—it was a great start. Is there anything that could have been done differently? Not that I observed. Am I planning to judge other shows that are held this year? Every one that I have been asked to judge. If they put on the show and I am on the panel—and God willing—I will be there. Do I have a message that I’d like to share with the dog show community? Again, most who have shown to me these many years know I smile when I judge. Good day or bad day, when I get into that ring I am honored to have the best seat in the house to watch the dogs each of you love. With the mask, you may not be able to see the smile, but please know it is still there. LUIS SOSA Oklahoma was fine, I enjoyed
myself, I only wish I could have had Patty for company and gone to eat at better restaurants. When did I decide to judge the shows in Oklahoma? I was asked to judge about two weeks before entries closed, when Onofrio Dog Shows and the all-breed clubs finalized the Learning Cluster.
144 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JULY 2020
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