Showsight Spring Edition, February/March 2021


breeds. I started my judging odyssey with a single breed, the Dal- matian, in 1990, and I now judge Groups I, IV, V, and VI. Have I bred any influential sires or dams? We bred and exhib- ited the No. 1 Dalmatian in 1991, 1992, and 1993. In addition to a spectacular show career, he remains an important producer in the breed. We’ve bred and exhibited many other nationally ranked dogs and bitches, and bred and co-owned the #8 all-time brood bitch. Did I handle any memorable show dogs? During our many years of exhibiting, I was forced into the ring on only two rather unsuccessful occasions. My wife, Eva, was the handler. I was the bucket boy. The Non-Sporting Group is the most diverse. How do I priori- tize the essentials for each breed? Like all judging, the Standard is the blueprint by which each exhibit is measured, and each breed has its own unique priorities that define breed type. The diversity in the Non-Sporting Group does not change this basic criteria, but ampli- fies it. Obviously, the features of the Bulldog are not compared to the Poodle, but each to its Standard. What are some of the challenges that come with judging the Non-Sporting breeds? Judging Non-Sporting breeds is no differ- ent from judging any other Group of breeds. The judge needs to be able to switch gears to keep in mind the priorities of each breed that create breed type. Judging the Non-Sporting Group presents unique challenges because within the Group are breeds with breath- taking beauty, functional utility, exquisite grooming, unique gait, and specified outline. The judge must take care not to become over- whelmed with one feature so as to evaluate each breed in accordance with its Standard. How important is presentation and “showmanship” in the Non- Sporting Group? Our job is to evaluate breeding stock. Therefore, at the breed level, I attempt to look beyond less than perfect han- dling and grooming to analyze the merits of the dog itself. At the Group level, presentation is of greater importance. Some breeds require specific grooming, gait, attitude, and showmanship, and that is all taken into consideration in determining the placements. Are any breeds in better or worse shape than they were 25 years ago? In any given year, I have seen excellence in almost all of the Non-Sporting breeds, somewhere in the country. Conversely, in some portions of the country, I have had difficulty in selecting four quality placements. So, my response is that on any given dog show day, some breeds are better off and others, less so. I think that, in general, there have been fewer shows over time where the Non- Sporting Group was the strongest of the seven Groups. What effect has popularity (or the lack thereof ) had on the Non-Sporting breeds? I am not aware of any instance when an increase in popularity had a positive effect on a breed. In my breed, the Dalmatian, the popularity of the 101 Dalmatian movies had an extremely negative effect. There was over-breeding nationwide to satisfy the burgeoning demand, with genetic problems and temper- aments ignored. In other Non-Sporting breeds, disqualifying colors are marketed by unscrupulous breeders who are eager to make a fast buck. While these problems are of great importance and signifi- cance to the ethical breeder, I don’t believe they materially impact the show ring. Do I have any advice to share with new judges of the Non- Sporting Group? For judges considering entering the Non-Sport- ing Group, my advice is: Delay and Defer. This Group is, in my opinion, the most difficult of the seven Groups to master due to the extreme diversity in size, coat, structure, heads, and function. Unlike other Groups, where breeds can be grouped by similarities, almost every Non-Sporting breed is dramatically unique. There- fore, a judge can benefit from gaining expertise and experience in the other six Groups, where there is more similarity to some of the Non-Sporting Breeds than within the Non-Sporting Group itself. The Non-Sporting breeds can logically be included with other

throughout all the breeds, various traits cycle, waxing and waning in popularity. What effect has popularity (or the lack thereof ) had on the Non-Sporting breeds? You might get a ring full of a popular breed with fewer outstanding individuals to find than you might think. This is particularly true of the flavor-of-the-moment breeds, with which some folks might just want to quickly cash in on popular- ity. Then, of course, there’s less genetic diversity available with low- entry breeds, but I know their breeders are going all over the world to try to alleviate this problem. Regardless of breed popularity, the capable and dedicated breeders are the lifeblood of every breed. Do I have any advice to share with new judges of the Non- Sporting Group? Keep in mind that different breeds need a dif- ferent approach. Several of the standards in this Group mention their delightful temperament as a hallmark of the breed, but about half of the breeds in this Group are naturally, perhaps, not going to be effusively reveling in your exam—and might not even deign to glance your way. Their standards might allude to it with words like “aloof/discerning” with Chows, “reserved/independent” like the Shibas, “stand-offish/snobbish” with the Shar-Pei, perhaps “cau- tious” with the Finnish Spitz, “chary/aloof ” with Lhasas, and even the charming little Tibetan Spaniel is “aloof with strangers.” Sev- eral others’ standards mention some flavor of “wary of strangers” or “cautious” or even “slightly conservative.” I’m not trying to point out all of them, but clearly, there are plenty and I hope you can love them for what they are. Naturally, you aren’t rewarding aggressive or failure-to-examine shyness (and I have met sparkling show dogs in all of these breeds), but do try to recall what a typical attitude for each breed might be, and give them grace accordingly. Savor the opportunity to witness these living works of art, which many people have labored to prepare for you! Is there a funny story I’d like to share about my experiences judging the Non-Sporting breeds? I can’t think of one as I, myself, was judging. But once, I had a little Chow bitch that did a lot of winning with a scowling headpiece that looked just like her dad’s. (As another exhibitor put it, she moved like a little girl proud of her ruffly dress and patent shoes; she did have kind of a snotty attitude.) My co-breeder friend was in the ring with her and, accidentally, dropped the lead. This bitch went on around the ring perfectly and, when she got to the judge, she hit her stack and favored him with a glance. She then looked back at my friend who was catching up. She knew her job and did it, and we still laugh about it. Sure, she won! KENNETH BERG I live in Moraga, Cali-

fornia, 20 miles from downtown San Francisco. As I was winding down my consulting engineering practice, I started wind- ing up my second career of judging purebred dogs. Do I have any hob- bies or interests apart from dogs? More than I have time for. Live opera, sym- phony, jazz, theater, mov- ies, politics, and hanging

with our five grandkids. How was I first introduced to the Non-Sporting breeds? I’ve lived with purebred dogs all my life; Scotties and Boxers, until I married Eva. We, shortly thereafter, had to add a dog to our lives. I wanted a Scottie and Eva wanted a German Shepherd. We com- promised on a Dalmatian, our introduction to the Non-Sporting


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