WITH ALICE BIXLER, MICHAEL GREENBERG, SULIE GREENDALE-PAVEZA, PAT HASTINGS, JOE HOLAVA, BRIAN & CINDY MEYER, STANLEY SALTZMAN, MARGARET SHAPPARD, WALTER SOMMERFELT, DONAVAN THOMPSON & MARY WEIR
they were bred for—working sheep; try to find herding instinct tests or trials—you will be glad you did! The Briard is a loving and loyal family companion. Strong leadership will keep his guardian instincts in check. WS: I think it is a wonderful breed with very good temperaments on the whole. They have a good group of breeders and exhibitors that seem to truly care about the breed. Because it is a well-coated breed, it requires a true dedication of time and effort to keeping it in proper condition. That in itself a great compliment to the own- ers and breeders. DT: The Briard is not a dog for everyone. The grooming is time consuming and if you are going to exhibit a Briard there must be the requirement to learn how to groom without pulling the coat out and training your Briard to enjoy baths and being brushed. The socialization required is very time consuming and your dog needs significant exposure during puppyhood and adolescent years. MW: Briards are a Herding breed; they are smart, clever, workers and with proper bloodlines and socialization are wonderful pets with a great sense of humor. As with most working breeds, the form and function is very important for the total look. Every piece of the Briard has a reason, not just for looks. 6. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? AB: Though I’ve seen or experienced hundreds of hilarious moments over the years, most of them are more enter- taining when viewed rather than described. But let me try—back in 2013, I took a bad fall the day before I was to fly out to California to judge a specialty. Consequently, I wore sunglasses for all the photos to cover up the eight stitches on my forehead, black eye and bruises. Sometime later, the husband of a friend asked what I looked like and she showed him the magazine with the specialty photos. Looking at the shots with my sunglass-covered face, he asked, “Is she with the mafia?” MG: One of the lighter moments in years of showing wasn’t especially humorous at the time. In 1984, my wife was showing a black Briard special that had been doing quite well, and she wanted to get him back out after giving birth to our son under a judge who liked the dog. She had needed a c-section and I didn’t want her to drive to a show in Kittaning, PA, alone, and as I had to work, asked a friend to go with her, as she was taking both dog and infant son. However, she had concerns about the weather, as the dog was not a mudder. In fact, he didn’t even like to go out in the rain for the necessities. I had been tracking the weather, and assured her it would be fine. Of course, the inevitable happened; it didn’t just start raining as they approached the show region the night before—it deluged. By the morning, it was so bad that the rings were moved into a Quonset building on the grounds, as the rain, lightening and thunder contin- ued on. Needless to say, the dog was over the dog show by the time he had to go in the ring and a deserving dog won the breed, and I was in the doghouse for my
weather forecast. The postscript to this story is that a few weeks later, on a 90-degree plus day on Long Island, under the same judge, the dog looked great, showed wonderfully and became the first black Briard to win the Herding group. SGP: I lost a shoe in the mud at an outdoor show under the late Ed Stevenson. I finished my go around, one shoe shy. Ed politely picked my shoe up, walked all the way down to me, gallantly got down on one knee (which, for those who remember him, was not an easy task for this gentle- man), and said to me, “Cinderella, I believe you lost your glass slipper?” (Also, I got a piece of the group!) JH: This was humorous for me and hopefully for the exhibi- tor as well. While judging Shetland Sheepdogs, an obvi- ously new exhibitor nervously brought her dog into the ring. I usually have the dog go around the ring one time before examination to help relax both the dog and the exhibitor. Well, that didn’t work. When she presented the dog on the table, she appeared even more nervous. So, I started a conversation with her to try to help her relax and enjoy her day (sorry AKC, but circumstances called for it). With a straight face, I told the exhibitor that she probably didn’t know this about me but that I was also an animal communicator and that her dog was telling me that she was very nervous. She responded with impressed amazement that I could ascertain that infor- mation from her dog. Breaking from my straight face, I smiled. She then started to laugh realizing then that I had been messing a bit with her. From that point on, she was most relaxed. Unfortunately, there were better dogs than hers and she never made it to Winners. MS: I would have to say it happened when I was judging the Briard National in 2014 while doing the individual exam of an adolescent male. All was fine until the very last step… checking for double dewclaws on each rear leg. This very determined youngster was having no part of it; he tucked his feet tightly together and sat right on top of them (picture a large, tawny hen sitting on her egg and refusing access). His handler, whom I knew to be a very experi- enced Briard person, informed that he was just being a brat and that she would just get him to lie down so that I could complete the exam. He lay down… right on top of his rear feet. By this time there were ringside chuckles, as that we were in a ballroom full of Briarders. I have no clue what was going on in the judges education group, but I am sure our Education Committee explained the situation. With a minimum of additional flailing we “got ’er done”! DT: One year at Sir Francis Drake someone with a real sense of humor took into the ring a potbelly pig! I believe the judge was Eileen Pilot. The AKC would never allow such folly today—things were more fun and not so serious— we actually clapped for our competitors and shared won- derful picnics. Dog shows were much more social! WS: I’ve had lots of great and funny moments over the years. I find some type of humor at almost all shows. Life is so short and I wish more people would focus on all of the wonderful things and fun that we have with our dogs and our “dog show family” instead of only caring about the almighty wins.
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