ShowSight Presents The Australian Shepherd

austTalKan sJeRJeT˩ Q&A

Q&A

Costa. I am proud of the fact that when I first exhibited at Westminster Kennel Club, “Bodie,” Ch. Peachcreeks Simply Sterling, was the first Australian Shepherd at this prestigious and historical show with advanced herding titles after his name. He was also on the cover of the AKC Herding magazine and the featured (as a conformation champion with herding titles) demonstration dog for the AKC Advanced Herding Institute. Bodie also went on to win Most Versatile Aussie in the early days of USASA. This experience has greatly affected how I look at and judge dogs in the breed ring. I know what attributes are required and look for those when judging. LR: I have not, but I have herding dogs myself so have attended many events. I think that is why I highly value the balanced movement and good feet, with nothing to excess overall. LS: Watching Aussies in the herding arena confirms why our Standard is written as it is. This is a moderate breed and anything that loads it one way or the other detracts from the ultimate goal of freedom of movement, a handy size and beauty all rolled into an eager to please, brilliantly colored package that will follow you through fire and always be in your space. 7. How do you view undocked tails? SGP: Many of the standards were written long before we had the capability to fly to Crufts, or have foreign dogs fly to Westminster, Eukanuba, etc. Tail set is more important than length. However, I must judge to the AKC standard, so in some breeds, given two dogs that are absolutely equal, one with a tail and one without, depending on whether it is a DQ, severe fault or minor fault, I would judge it accordingly. But it would be a rare, if not improbable scenario! JH: I have judged in countries that have undocked tails and I can honestly say that it was fine and didn’t influence my decisions. That said, I prefer the look of the docked tail. GK: As I stated previously, I’ve judged many times overseas in countries where undocked tails are the norm. I’ve also sold tailed pups to a few people in countries where docking and the importation of dogs with docked tails is forbidden. Because of this, it doesn’t bother me to see natural tails. However, when judging here in the US, I have to fault the presence of any tail over 4 long. Both USASA and ASCA have made official statements regarding the judging of Aussies with tails, and I am obligated to abide by their statements. I strongly believe in having the right to dock tails and would never be in favor of having that right prohibited. LM: I don’t care for the way it changes the dog’s appearance, and I gather from the working stock dog people that the tail might be in danger of injury when working livestock. Interestingly, when I judged a large entry in Sydney, Australia a couple years ago, not one Aussie had a full tail nor even anything appearing to be a natural bob—this in a country where docking is mostly banned. Checking the catalog showed that most were born in Australia, after the docking ban went into effect. How do they do it? Search me! But there were many very nice Aussies pres- ent, and in fact I ended up giving my BB winner, a lovely blue merle bitch, the Group on the finals day. She would

win a lot here in the US as would some of the others I saw. LR: I have not seen an Aussie with an undocked tail. I judge the Sporting and Working dogs and in general I consider the docking of the tail a man-made item. I try to follow what the parent club wants. But the bottom line for me is the structure and proper type of the dog. LS: The naturally bobbed or docked tail has a huge influence on type and distinguishes the Aussie from other similar breeds. The tails, when presented at birth, can be from one joint long to a full tail. Docking them gives unifor- mity where tails are concerned. SLW: Undocked tails are considered a fault. I would like to see a “foreign bred” class offered for dogs whelped in countries with a ban on docking. 8. And, for a bit of humor: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? SGP: There are so many! I guess the time my half-slip’s elastic gave out as I was running around the group ring. I stepped out of it, neither breaking my stride nor the dogs. As I recall, I got a piece of the group! JH: Wow! I can’t think of anything funny, but I do know we laugh a lot and have a great time at the shows with friends and our “fly by the seat of your pants” attitude! GK: Gosh, I’ve had a lot of humorous dog show experiences, but the funniest thing I’ve seen happened to a friend of mine years ago at an ASCA national specialty in the Best of Breed ring. I had finished presenting my special to the judge and gone to the end of the line. The judge exam- ined my friend’s dog and sent her down and back. When my friend stopped her dog in front of the judge, a bit of folded paper money fell out of her bra onto the ground in front of the judge, who then said something to the effect of, “Is this for me?” The crowd and everyone in the ring burst out laughing and clapping! LM: There have been many funny moments, but the one that comes to mind just now—perhaps because I have blue merle in mind—was when I took a young blue Sheltie bitch of my own into the ring for her first time. She was leash trained and usually eager to please—or so I thought. Around we went. Then the time came for the down and back, and about half way out she lay down, rolled on her back and stuck her paws in the air. And that was that… not another step. I told her she would never have to go to another show, and she never did. LR: I am pretty relaxed when I judge and the exhibitors and I have good time. So really too many to mention. I did get a good laugh when a Siberian Husky slipped out of its lead in the show ring and enjoyed running around the ring for 5 minutes before the handler could catch it. Everyone got a good laugh. LS: One of some funny stories: Vicki Lembcke and I travel occasionally to shows. One year in Washington, at the nationals, our exercise time for the dogs came rather late. We looked out into the moonless night at some very black earth with little vegetation. I was concerned about not being able to see our dog’s poop or others left behind. I looked at Vicki and expressed my concerns. She said, “I know what you mean! It will be like trying to separate fly s--- from pepper!” I laughed until I cried!

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