A CALL TO ACTION AROUND THE CONFUSION SURROUNDING NOHS JUDGES: LOOK AT THE LONG GAME
(including permit judges) must be approved for at least one Breed in the Group. If a judge is approved for one full Group, they may judge any AKC NOHS Group. I’m going to be brutally honest about this. I’m a four Group judge who has been judging for twenty years. As such, I judge NOHS Groups and have seen a variety of both rare and not-so-rare breeds. I have been studying many of the breeds that I’m not yet approved for in anticipation of applying for those breeds. There- fore, I consider myself pretty well-informed on the majority of standards. Of course, you wouldn’t have any way of knowing that unless you were my best friend. TIP: APPEAR TO BE KNOWLEDGEABLE BY PRESENTING TO EVERY JUDGE, NO MATTER THEIR EXPERIENCE. IF THEY AUTHENTICALLY ARE CURIOUS ABOUT YOUR BREED, BE READY TO ASSIST THEM WITH CORRECT AND CONCISE INFORMATION BASED ON YOUR STANDARD. DON’T TOUT YOUR OWN DOG. QUOTE YOUR STANDARD—VERBATIM! REMEMBER, THE BREED STANDARD ACCORDING TO THE AKC IS, “A WRITTEN DESCRIPTION OF THE IDEAL SPECIMEN FOR EACH BREED.” DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY, “I HAVE ONE YEAR IN MY BREED, BUT HERE’S WHAT I KNOW. THE STANDARD SAYS…” So what if the judge is learning? That’s a win-win for you, your breed, the judge, and the sport! And what if you lose your stand- ing in your breed? Make it temporary. It happens all the time in the regular Groups. Regular Group winners are always jockeying for top position in the rankings. Why shouldn’t you as well? They navigate judge changes and levels of knowledge all the time. For example, rankings change continually as a result of judges who are new, or judges who weigh certain characteristics of a standard in a way that doesn’t necessarily benefit a particular dog’s rankings. My old friend, Art Tingly, shared a story with me about rank- ings. Those of you in dogs for a while will remember Art. He was a recognized Briard breeder and owner handler who was an hon- ored and revered member of our sport. He told me about a seem- ingly inconsequential bump in the road on his way to #2 with one particular dog. Art was on his way to some shows with his #1 Briard when he had a flat tire. He was able to fix the tire and could have made his ring time, but he was tired and just wanted to get to his hotel. Since there was only one other Briard entered, he decided to skip that show and get to his hotel. You guessed it. At the end of the year, he lost the number one spot by—a mere—one point! Had he only gotten to that show! He would have been #1—Top Dog! And so it goes; if it happened to Art, it could happen to any of us!
A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE When individuals have an exceptional depth and breadth of knowledge, it is to the benefit of the sport to have that knowledge in a judicial position. As an exhibitor, you should be both thrilled and honored that your dog will be evaluated by such an esteemed judge. If you don’t win on that day, you should be on an impas- sioned quest to figure out why. I value their opinion—I would let most of them buy me a dog—certainly a high compliment! There is a deep understanding of dogs when you are a dog per- son who has been steeped in the sport as a career. We say, “a good dog man or a good dog woman.” They know . Most can look at any breed, and if they learn the hallmarks, they can judge the breed. It’s that simple. It’s second sense for them. Or is that sixth sense? AKC is in the process of making it easier, not harder, for judges to add new Breeds and Groups. The new judging approval system makes it easier to get a Group if the judge is exceptional and/or if they have over four Groups. Let me explain the wisdom behind this recent decision—as I see it. Take note that these are my thoughts and no one at AKC has said this. What about the Four-Group judges? Well, judges who are allowed to go beyond four Groups are considered by the AKC to be “competent judges.” And just as important to understand is that they have learned how to learn new breeds. They have both honed their process of learning and have the breadth and depth of judging experience that allows them to be able to pick out the best dogs in a lineup. So, the next time you bemoan a judge who according to their bio appears to have no experience in your Breed or Group, remem- ber these words. It’s a matter of perspective. Consider their knowl- edge in the sport, how their understanding of dogs will inform their decisions, and on a larger scale, consider how your presence with your dog will impact that judge’s course, your dog’s rankings, and the advancement of the sport of dogs.
BIOGRAPHY Ms. Lee Whittier has been involved in the sport of purebred dogs for over three decades. Her involvement began as owner, exhibitor, and subsequently, a breeder of Rottweilers. She has also owned and exhibited numerous breeds in three
Groups, currently Tibetan Terriers.
Lee began judging in 2000, and then took a hiatus for several years to work for The American Kennel Club as an Executive Field Representative. She returned to judging in 2011, and currently judges the Working, Terrier, Toy, and Non-Sporting Groups, eleven Hounds breeds, six Sporting breeds, Bouvier des Flandres, and Best In Show. She has judged throughout the US as well as internationally. Lee is a standing member of Dog Fanciers of Oregon, the American Rottweiler Club, and the Tibetan Terrier Club of America. She is Show Chair for Vancouver Kennel Club and the Terrier Association of Oregon’s January show with Rose City Classic. In addition to judging, Lee Whittier has developed the Dog Show Mentor program, exclusively for owner handlers. This is an online program where owner handlers of all stages and levels learn to develop an individual, strategic approach to showing dogs. She also travels to speak to owner handlers all over the world.
144 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MARCH 2022
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