Cunningham. He was between assignments when Bill Martin walked up with a miniature goat on a lead. Bill immediately asked him to bring the goat into the ring and began going through the motions of judging it, including going over the goat on the table. It was hysterical, except one of the Poodle exhibitors waiting was not amused and complained to the rep. However, when the rep saw the goat, she could not help but laugh. Truth is, the goat was better behaved than many of the dogs. SOPHIA KALUZNIACKI I was born in Poland during WWII. I live in Green Valley, Arizona, just south of Tucson. I am a veterinarian and I own and operate the Green Valley Animal Hospital. I went to my first dog show in 1957 with a German Shepherd puppy that I bought with babysitting money. I purchased my first Akita in 1968 and have bred over 100 AKC and/or FCI and interna- tional Champion Akitas, including top national specialty, spe- cialty and ROM Akitas in several countries. I have been judg- ing for more than 25 years and have judged in many countries including nationals in at least six. I have judged at Akita Club of America National for six times now and have been a mem- ber of Akita Club of America Judges Education Committee since its inception. Outside of dogs, I have bred and shown horses, even before I showed dogs. I also work on and race Corvettes and love art. 1. Describe the breed in three words. I need five words! Large, substantial, heavy boned, balanced and dignified. If you insist on three words, it would be large, substantial and dignified. 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? Good head, ears and expression. Strong and level back, both standing and moving. Proper size, proportions and sound, balanced movement. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? I don’t think much is becoming exaggerated, except per- haps in some few instances, heads with muzzles some- what short or ears a bit on the small side. Also in a few dogs, exaggerated rear angulation. But I’m being picky here and do not see a huge problem at this time. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? Overall, the Akitas today are sounder with better rears, angulation and top lines. However, we are seeing many
more dogs that are lacking in size and are low stationed without the proper length of leg. Akita males are sup- posed to be between 26" and 28" at the withers, with under 25" being disqualifying. Females should be 24" to 26" tall. Most males, and definitely the females, being shown today are on the low end of the standard. One seldom sees a 28" male or a 26" female in the ring today. In the early 80s, I had a top-winning bitch that was 27" tall; I doubt you would see that today. Remember, this is a breed that has a height disqualification: under 25" for males and under 23" for females. I measure regularly and more judges should. I will also add that, happily, tempera- ments have improved substantially. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? New judges often do not understand what proper size and length of leg are and often mistake fat for substance. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. I believe I have covered most of the important points. I would be happy to take questions! I would also encour- age all judges to come to one of our Nationals and attend our judges’ education class. It is excellent and you will see more quality dogs than you will see at the majority of our all breed shows today. 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? Many amusing incidents (most not fit for publishing), but one eye opener for me was early on in my judging career. It was a large entry and there was an observer judge watching from outside the ring. Afterwards, we had a dis- cussion. The judge asked, “So what did you think of that big, black and white dog in your open class?” I replied, “I placed him third.” Then the judge asked, “What did you not like about him?” I said, “Well, he did look like some- thing I might have bred.” The judge then asked me why I didn’t put the dog up. “Because he had some of the faults I least like in my breeding,” I told him, but I don’t think he ever got the point. He did not end up being a very good judge of Akitas. (I can safely say that today, since he passed away several years ago.) I wish him well judging dogs in heaven, as all of them are perfect once they have crossed the rainbow bridge.
“LARGE, SUBSTANTIAL AND DIGNIFIED.”
256 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2017
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