THE LEARNING CLUSTER JUDGE Q&A
Do I have a message that I’d like to share with the dog show community? Yes, stop canceling shows; have shows, and practice social distancing with masks.
How many days was I judging? I judged for four days. I judged the Non-Sporting Breeds on Saturday, and Best in Show, some Working Breeds and the Working and Hound Groups on Sunday, and Hound Breeds and the Non-Sporting Group on Monday. On Tuesday, I judged a few Working Breeds and flew home. I did not judge any Groups on Tuesday, so I could fly home and save the clubs a night’s hotel. I also judged several NOHS Groups the first three days. How far did I travel to get there? Guthrie, Oklahoma, is about a 14+ hour drive so, needless to say, I flew from New Orleans to Okla- homa City and drove the 45 minutes to Guthrie. I flew Southwest Airlines and changed planes in Houston. The Southwest flights were on time, and went out “full” with the middle seat open, so roughly 95 passengers or less on a plane that normally holds up to 143 passengers. How well organized was the show in regards to COVID-19? The show staff spent a lot of time getting the site ready. There were six feet markers on the floor and outside the ring for social distancing. There was a six feet demarcation line to the rings so you could stay six feet from those inside the ring. There was no seating on the ring’s aisle side, only seating on the first row of the bleachers. Each ring had an entrance and an exit so exhibitors did not walk past each other on the way in or out. Were rules noticeably enforced? Yes, there were several “rules police” people walking about keeping exhibitors six feet apart. There was a grooming tent for anyone who wanted to use it; but due to the daytime temperature, I don’t think it saw as much use as it would have at another time of the year, or in a different part of the country. Did exhibitors practice social distancing? Yes, I think most exhibitors were glad to be at a dog show. If we had large classes to judge, we split them to give the exhibitors room to social distance in the ring. Same thing for the Groups; the larger Groups were judged in two parts, with cuts to give more room for exhibitors to spread out. Exhibitors picked up their own ribbons on the way out of the rings. I did hand out the Group win ribbons, but not the Class or Breed wins. Everyone wore masks while inside the show building. Exhibitors picked up their own armbands on two of the days at tables by the rings; on two of the days the armbands were picked up by exhibitors at tables by the superintendent’s office. On one of those days, the armbands were at tables near the superintendent, separated by Groups, and on one day alphabetized by the agent’s or owner’s names. I thought the armbands laid out on a table outside each ring worked out the best, since the judge could see which arm- bands had not been picked up. It would also appear that this also required the least amount of work in getting the armbands ready. On the days when armbands were picked up by the super’s office, we could not tell which armbands had not been picked up (dogs absent), so we had to call dog armband numbers and see if they were there and came into the ring. Sometimes we marked them absent
and then they showed up, so we let them in. I don’t know how the exhibitors felt about the different ways to pick up armbands but, as a judge, I felt that the armbands by the rings worked the best. What was it like to judge without spectators? Frankly, I never notice what goes on outside the ring; plus a lot of shows don’t have much in the way of spectators, so that did not feel different to me. There were a number of exhibitors live streaming much of the show which gave owners and people at home a chance to feel part of a dog show again. How “clean” did I find the facility overall? The facility was “clean,” at least as clean as a dirt floor arena can be. The dirt was very well packed. Was everyone wearing a mask and did the dogs react to them? Everyone wore a mask in the building, or the “rules police” would ask them to put one on. There were masks at the superintendent for any- one who did not have one. I did not find any reaction from the dogs to the masks, perhaps they were used to their owners and handlers wearing masks. Was I pleased with the ring set-up (separate entrances and exits)? The ring setup was good, you could tell that a lot of thought was given to what would work and what would not. How would I rate my experience overall? It was a positive expe- rience. Hopefully we can get shows moving again. There were a number of show chairs from other clubs that attended to see how it would work. There were also several AKC Board members and staff who also came to see the show and get ideas to implement. Would I say that the shows set a good example for other clubs to follow? These shows set an excellent example for other shows to follow. Is there anything that could have been done differently? Most judges had their photos taken early in the day to be inserted digi- tally in win photos as recommended by AKC. I had one photo taken each day, as asked, but largely stood for the photos for the dogs I rewarded in the photo area and held the win ribbons. When judg- ing, I usually have plenty of time between sets to stand for photos and, that way, the exhibitor has a photo with the judge, not one where the judge was digitally inserted. I did not feel that I was any closer to the exhibitor when having the photo taken than when going over their dog in the ring, and I stood away from the exhibi- tor for the photo for social distancing while standing for the photo. By standing in the show photo and holding ribbons, the exhibitor has a record of the win, and not a composite photo. This also results in much less work for the show photographer. Am I planning to judge other shows that are held this year? Right now, I have one more judging assignment in Florida in November, plus I’d certainly consider other shows if asked. Do I have a message that I’d like to share with the dog show community? Yes, stop cancelling shows; have shows, and practice social distancing with masks.
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JULY 2020 | 145
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