Showsight Spring Edition, February/March 2021


showmanship does enter into the equation when making a decision, it is not the most important thing! Are any breeds in better shape or worse than they were 25 years ago? As a judge of this Group for about 24 years, the Group dynam- ics has changed through the years. Needless to say, Poodles do dom- inate this Group. They did when I was first approved to judge the Group and they still do today. However, the two points of concern in the Standard Poodle that I have noticed recently are that their feet lack the tightness they once had, and their front legs appear to be set under their necks instead of their withers. We have many low entry breeds, so it is hard to evaluate their progress in the Group. However, I must say I have judged a fabulous American Eskimo that consistently won the breed at the Garden for many years, and a Finnish Spitz that literally owned the ring. My breed, the Lhasa Apso, was once a powerhouse in the Group and is, sadly, now a low entry breed. I think the breed has become much more consistent in balance and type than it was 40 years ago, but I worry with so few in the ring that new judges will find it hard to develop a true understanding of the breed. I worry about that problem in all the low entry breeds. When I started judging, Dalmatians were one of the “key” breeds in the Group, and now their entries have dropped significantly! French Bulldogs and Chinese Shar-Pei entries have surged and the quality is very strong. Tibetan Spaniels have done a good job of maintaining true breed type, and they have a solid presence in the Group. I feel the Bichon Frise has become more consistent in type through the years, but I find heads have lost the equilateral triangle that the standard requests for proper expres- sion. And I am bothered by the practice of using make-up to create the halos.

Do I have any advice to share with new judges of the Non-Sport- ing Group? My advice to new judges would be to learn your new breeds thoroughly before going on to learn more breeds. I believe it takes much longer than three assignments to really become com- fortable with a new breed, unless it is a breed with which you have extensive experience. Don’t go forward unless you feel very com- fortable with the breeds you have. My goal was always to have the knowledge of every new breed match the knowledge that I had of my own breed. Talk to as many breeders as you can; they will all have good points to share on their breeds that will improve your understanding of them. I was so lucky to have had the knowledge of my friend, Wendell Sammet, who mentored me when I started judging Dalmatians. He would come and sit ringside whenever I had an assignment at a show that he was attending. He would watch and then, when I was finished, we would go off and talk about what I had done. He was always positive and informative, and I learned so much from those conversations. But in the end, judge the whole dog and don’t get hung up on individual parts. Is there a funny story I’d like to share about my experiences judging the Non-Sporting breeds? Years ago, I was judging a lovely entry of Tibetan Terriers out in California. They are mostly a very happy breed and seem to enjoy meeting everybody. I got down to Winners Bitch and, on the last down and back, this beautiful bitch went down perfectly. But as she came back, when she got close to me, she turned into a projectile and leapt into my arms and—to my great surprise—I caught her. I laughed so hard and gave her back to her owner/handler. She won a well-deserved Winners Bitch. I just couldn’t resist her pure joy of the show ring.

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