Top Notch Toys January 2017

we eeked in with a Group 4. I do not believe I have ever been more uncom- fortable or at a loss for words than when I went to get a picture. Maybe he liked my dog, maybe not—it wasn’t like I could ask and I was too embarrassed to ever show under him again. I sold my ethics for a Group 4. Would I feel differ- ent if it were a BIS? We’d be offended if we were the beneficiary of any of “group cleansing” by breed judges who want to make sure the group is so weak that the one big winner (owned by their friend) they let get through is the only possible choice for the hapless group judge to make— and coincidently that breed judge (or spouse) is judging BIS! How must the ultimate BIS winner feel knowing her friend had so little confidence in her dog to make it through the group? How must they feel knowing that their BIS was “won” at the cost of all the other group’s competitors who showed up expecting an honest day’s judging but left not even winning the breed they deserved? For every winner there’s a loser—sometimes many losers. We wouldn’t stand in the middle of the ring and point to a fellow judge’s dog in hopes the favor will be recip- rocated. We wouldn’t put our friends who are judging on the spot by placing undue pressure on them or holding it against them when they failed to find our sterling exhibit. We wouldn’t follow a judge friend from show to show, to the point that the judge is the backbone of one dog’s entire career, other exhibitors quit entering under him, and the show world just snickers at yet another “what-did-you- expect?” win. It’s one thing to go back to a judge for another win, maybe two or even three, but at some point what are you proving? How many times you can get the same judge to do the same thing before you make everyone lose respect for both of you? Is it really just the accumulation of numbers that counts? Even when you must know yourself that they’re a farce? At what point does “having an edge” turn into cheating? And yes, I get it, at the end of the year the cheats and favors and edges will be forgotten— Maybe. But more news: So will the dog. Nobody cares about who was #1 even two years ago. They won’t remem- ber. But they will remember who they saw cheating.


Maybe I’m a Pollyanna, but I truly believe that 95 percent of judging is honest. It may be influenced by faces, advertising and subliminal cues, but I think the majority of judges try to get it right. But it’s the other 5 percent who knowingly point to the wrong dog that drive people out of the sport. Because cheating has larger effects than one award on one day. When you cheat, as a judge or exhibitor, you put another nail in the dog show coffin. You convince another exhibitor their time and money would be better spent elsewhere, and they leave. One day you may have the top dog, but there may be very few dogs left to defeat. There’s more. When it becomes known you cheated for one win, it makes me suspect you cheated for all of them—even if you didn’t. Your honest wins become tainted. And the honest judges who put you up because they really did like your dog the best? They get painted with the same brush of skepticism. Good job. What is the point of showing dogs? To evaluate breeding stock? To get an honest opinion from a respected judge? How will cheating help that? Or do you show for the social aspects, to spend a day with friends? Great way to treat them. For the respect of others? News flash: They will respect you more if you are honest. For the thrill of competi- tion? Where is the thrill if you’ve fixed the win? For the good of the breed? I don’t know where to begin. It’s nothing new. Some of the earli- est dog shows had judges judging—and putting up—one another’s dogs. AKC has rules outlining relationships that

can’t be in the ring, but they can’t cover everything. A free happens all the time; who’s to say it’s not just being helpful. Even if it’s the day before the show. In her 1911 book Toy Dogs and Their Ancestors , Mrs. Neville Lytton bluntly summed it up as aptly as any could do today: “...I have tried to show the fancier how ridiculous and con- temptible the present judging system appears to outsiders, who are not all as blind, deaf and stupid as they are given credit for. I want all those who read this to make up their minds once and for all to judge fairly and honestly for the sake of the dogs, whatever it may cost them in unpopularity with those who are less scrupulous...” “The judging of some breeds has long been a perfect farce... No won- der we get amazing exaggerations—no wonder type is lost and quality forgot- ten. No wonder respectable people are driven out of the shows, endless dissat- isfaction, rows and ill feelings are cre- ated amongst exhibitors by the aston- ishing awards of people who ought to know better (and often do know better in their hearts)...” “There are many people who ‘good- naturedly’ favor friends by giving them undeserved prizes, yet these same peo- ple would no more dream of taking a five-pound note belonging to a stranger and bestowing it on a friend than of robbing a mail coach. This is, however, exactly what it comes to.” Wise words from more than a centu- ry ago, which we still paraphrase today: “Just judge the dogs.”

T op N otch T oys , J anuary 2017 • 77

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