Showsight Spring Edition, February/March 2021


1. Where do you live? How many years in dogs? How many as a judge? 2. Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from dogs? 3. How were you first introduced to the Non-Sporting breeds? 4. Have you bred any influential sires or dams? 5. Did you handle any memorable show dogs? 6. The Non-Sporting Group is the most diverse. How do you prioritize the essentials for each breed? 7. What are some of the challenges that come with judging the Non-Sporting breeds? 8. How important is presentation and “showmanship” in the Non-Sporting Group? 9. Are any breeds in better shape than they were 25 years ago? Any that are worse off ? 10. What effect has popularity (or the lack thereof) had on the Non-Sporting breeds? 11. Do you have any advice to share with new judges of the Non- Sporting Group? 12. Is there a funny story you’ d like to share about your experi- ences judging the Non-Sporting breeds? DEBORAH BARRETT I am a “military brat,”

The Non-Sporting Group is the most diverse. How do I priori- tize the essentials for each breed? I love that the different breeds in this Group were meant to do so many different tasks. I especially enjoy thinking about correct, sound movement, since it general- ly reflects the structure of the dog. The proper, stilted gait of my Chows would be quite different when compared to the shuffling, rolling gait of a Bulldog, which would be so distinct from the clean, effortless gait of a Dalmatian, which contrasts with a springy, proud Poodle gait, and so on. What are some of the challenges that come with judging the Non-Sporting breeds? I just retired from being a computer pro- grammer/analyst, so I think about my brain loading a program for each breed when it comes into my ring. Because there’s so much variety within the Group, I try to take a few seconds to “reset” to the next breed template in my head; beyond gait, there’s balance, head- pieces, substance and size, toplines and tail carriage, angles, feet, temperament and breed attitude… click, click, click, click. And I do prioritize varying attributes differently by breed. If I am observ- ing how many exhibits in a breed seem to be commonly lacking in a particular trait that might be difficult to achieve—and somebody is showing a nice exhibit that has what I think the breed needs— I would like to reward that. As an example, if I’m thinking as a breeder, “While I do appreciate a gorgeous head, I also know in this breed that you can put a lovely head on a dog in one generation, but it’s harder to find and keep a good front, for instance...” I might be more likely to use a dog with an adequate, but plain headpiece, yet with a terrific front assembly. If the standard doesn’t have a point system for evaluation, judges have to decide for themselves how they want to weigh the varying characteristics of each breed; and, what one breeder or judge cannot tolerate varies as well. If you tend to be a detail person, and if you aren’t careful, you can drive yourself mentally crazy, juggling all of the components! In the end, ideally, you don’t want a dog looking like it was put together by a commit- tee. Even if it has many exemplary traits, everything needs to flow to present an appealing package as a whole. And sometimes, inex- plicably, a dog might actually use itself better than its components can reveal. How important is presentation and “showmanship” in the Non- Sporting Group? I try to see the inherent good qualities of the dog standing in front of me. Some dogs are lucky enough to have a skill- ful handler with them, and some are not. Yet we still have only about two minutes per dog—so you have to look fast! That said, I have seen evidence myself that a talented handler, whether a pro or an owner, can really make a huge difference, particularly if they have done their homework and know what to point out. Although, as I’ve already mentioned, some breeds inherently are not supposed to be as “showy” as others, and I don’t want to overlook them. Like- wise, I am sure to carefully look at low-entry breeds. They have paid their entry fee like everybody else and I am happy to find and reward some breeds that we don’t see as much, when I think they are exceptional. Are any breeds in better or worse shape than they were 25 years ago? Off the top of my head, I’ve seen some admirable Bos- ton Terriers recently, superior Cotons (though, of course, they weren’t with the AKC 25 years ago), and I’ve also rewarded some commendable Shar-Pei. I hate to point out any Non-Sporting breeds that are worse off. It’s tempting to look longingly back at the good old days—as breeders “fix” one thing they might also set- in something less desirable. This was always true. It’s always been an ongoing effort to preserve and improve what you have; and

now living in Hoover, Ala- bama, which is near Bir- mingham. I have been in some aspect of dogs all my life but, after we married, my husband and I did our research and he preferred Chows—a fabulous breed! I showed our first (pet) Chow in 1982 and became a permit judge for them 15 years ago. Do I have any hobbies or

interests apart from dogs? I do full-coverage cross-stitch (the super- detailed kind that takes years to complete), and I was a voice major back-in-the-day. Now, with COVID, choirs can’t meet in person and, so far, I have submitted over 50 pieces and guide tracks for various virtual choirs and composers around the world. How was I first introduced to the Non-Sporting breeds? After serving in so many positions for my local Birmingham Kennel Club and working with the Chow Chow Club Inc. in several capacities, I naturally started judging; first with my breed and then I moved on through the Group. It gives me great joy to be a perpetual student of dogs! Have I bred any influential sires or dams? I co-bred and han- dled some Chows that did well at our National and the associated shows, and at regional specialties, but I was never a hugely success- ful breeder. My co-breeder buddy and I have had to be very selec- tive, since our circumstances have dictated that we could only have a few litters. Did I handle any memorable show dogs? I generally only han- dled dogs that I owned or co-owned. And although I know it isn’t a popular stance with some, I made the decision to mostly quit exhib- iting when I chose to begin judging.


Powered by