Showsight Presents The Akita

THE AKITA

assess how each exhibit compares to the written standard in two and a half minutes. It goes without saying that knowledge of the standard is critical, but using the standard to inform one’s judging separates a great judge from an average one. It’s a learning experience and one that does not always happen overnight. I try to present a judge with a sound methodology for their approach and examination of an Akita. My advice to anyone judging Akitas is to manage their ring, leaving adequate space between each dog, and when all of the dogs first enter the ring, to initially and confidently greet the handlers and their dogs by “walking the line.” This provides a quick glimpse at both fronts and heads, plus a quick impression of eyes, ears, temperament, and expres- sion. Then, take a look at the profiles of the dogs. This is an excellent opportunity to observe balance, fronts and rears, proportion, head, ear carriage, neck, topline, tail, length of body, depth of chest, and size. Does the depth of the body at the elbow equal half the height of the dog at the withers? Of course, this is all followed by a thorough hands-on examination of each dog, paying careful attention to the fine points that make an Akita distinct, and an opportunity to watch each dog move. Then, it’s time to make a decision! To better assist judges and breeders, the JEC has spent the last five years working on an Illustrated Standard (IS). We are confident that the IS will be a valuable resource and tool for judges, breeders, owners, and others who are interested in the breed. The project with nearly 50 origi- nal drawings is nearing completion and we eagerly await the opportu- nity to share it. At the same time, the JEC is developing an AKC Canine College course on the breed, as well as an updated presentation that can be used for in-person seminars and virtual events like webinars.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sylvia Thomas was introduced to Akitas by her tennis partner in 1980, and six months later she presented her husband, Frank, with an eight-week-old puppy as a surprise. (She doesn’t recommend this technique!) Akita ownership presents some challenges and, as a result, they are not the breed for everyone, but personally, they fill Sylvia with much joy, unconditional love, and devotion. She can’t imagine her life without one. Sylvia and Frank were fortunate, as that eight-week-old “surprise,” named “Sweetie,” became the foundation of their line, Chiheisen Akitas. Sweetie’s descendants include two National Specialty and Best in Show winners, and three generations of National winners along with Registry of Merit producers, Specialty and Group winners, and numerous champions, along with loving family companions. Sylvia has also owned, bred, and campaigned Samoyeds. She has held various offices in the Akita Club of America and currently serves as Chair of the JEC. Sylvia belongs to two all-breed clubs, serving as the AKC Delegate and Secretary for one, Editor of the Delegates’ publication “Perspectives,” AKC Trial Board Member, and an AKC Judge. Professionally, Sylvia is a retired educational administrator, retiring as Associate Vice Chancellor of Educational Services Emeritus for a three-college district where she has been inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame for Community Contributions.

190 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2022

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