Top Notch Toys January 2017



W hat would you give to own a top dog? It’s no secret it’s going to cost a lot of money for trav- el, entries, handling and advertising. Oh, and the dog! In return you get the excitement of a campaign, the admira- tion of others and the acknowledge- ment that you have the best dog in the land! But what if you bought those acco- lades? What if some of your expenses were in payments to judges? Would that be as fun? Such was the case with 1986/1987’s top dog, the Fox Terrier, Ch. Galsul Excellence, winner of 103 Best In Shows. “Paddy” was undoubtedly a stunning example of his breed, but co-owner William MacKay wasn’t satis- fied with the many BISs the dog could have won without any additional help. He apparently funneled millions of dollars of company funds for his own uses, even signing up AKC judges to the company payroll. An IRS investigation along with irate business associates brought these matters to AKC’s atten- tion and MacKay was banned from AKC for life. Paddy’s record was allowed to stand, but since all his dogs, even co-owned ones, were banned from AKC activities, Paddy’s offspring couldn’t be registered for five years while things were sorted out. MacKay’s was certainly not the first such instance. Some years before several prominent judges were barred for life from AKC affairs for accepting bribes in the form of swimming pools and new cars. Who says judging can’t be lucrative? And just a few years ago the show world was buzzing when a prominent handler was caught offering a judge $500 (or $5,000—the stories differ) for a BIS. The initial response of everyone I knew was not so much outrage at the offer, but at the fact that had they known it was so cheap, they would

have bought a BIS a long time ago! May- be a dozen! After all, either sum is far less than most of us shell out before we can even dream of bringing home the big rosette. But if it came down to it, would you really pay for it? We might initially say, “You bet!” but upon a moment’s reflection most of us would change our minds. Because if it’s just about buying a ribbon, you can get a really big one for about $20, with anything printed on it you want. True, you won’t get that win picture and your dog’s name in the show results, but here’s a news flash: Nobody but you cares. Basically, all this stuff you’re doing, all this running around, freaking out about the competition, spending money—nobody but you (and maybe your dog’s breeder) really cares wheth- er your dog wins or loses. So if you’re cheating for wins and records only you care about, how is that any different from cheating at solitaire? How is it a win if it’s bought and paid for? Or is winning at any cost, outsmart- ing the competition through any means, the ultimate challenge? As exhibitors, we’re all faced with this same dilemma, just usually on a much smaller scale. If we entered dog shows simply to get a judge’s opinion on our prospective breeding stock, we wouldn’t scour

premium lists for judges who “like us” or “like our type.” We’d either take them as they came or choose them solely on their knowledge and integrity. And we wouldn’t hire handlers based on their face recognition. When I was just a teen I had a Borzoi who was not a very good show dog; I talked to a handler about taking her and the han- dler agreed she wasn’t great but said she could finish her because several of the judges coming up were friends with her father, who was a judge. I didn’t want to finish her like that and I ended up showing her myself. She never won a single point, but I’m more proud of that today than had I given in and bought a title. What would the title mean if it was based on the handler and not the dog? We wouldn’t accept it when judges tell us we’re going to win before the show even starts, as one judge told a friend of mine on his birthday—that he’d be getting a nice present from him. And sure enough, he “gave him” the group. Many years ago I was show- ing a top ranked Saluki, but we were at the last day of a three-day weekend and had yet to get a group placement. I was bemoaning my lack of wins to a friend who said, fear not, he was very good friends with the group judge, he’d put in a good word. Sure enough,


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