Showsight Spring Edition, February/March 2021


The Judging Problem “Meanwhile each year we see more shows which necessi- tate more judges, and there is an ever-increasing problem of obtaining sites. Fortunately, the AKC in 1978 selected as its president a man acutely aware of the situation. He is William (Bill) Stifel. When I asked him what AKC proposed to do, Bill responded, ‘Since 1971, entries have increased 36 percent. We are re-evaluating our stand on all-breed clubs holding shows on a common site. There is no problem with specialty clubs, since the AKC can approve up to 20 specialty shows to share one common site.’ When I pointed out how exhibitors are constantly com- plaining about the judging, he replied, ‘Approving judges is one of our most important jobs. We are having personal inter- views with all applicants. We would like to expand the whole program, with more testing—both oral and written.’” We all know the judging problem still exists and, as long as judging is subjective, there will always be those exhibitors who complain. The only question is, “Does the current system really work?” One of the more interesting sections in the book deals with short, informational biographies of judges at the time. Here are just a couple of insights: “The first woman veterinarian graduated from the Uni- versity of Pennsylvania was Josephine Deubler. She can also be called Doctor-Doctor for she also has her Ph.D. in Pathol- ogy. Jo, as she is known to her friends, comes from a family of veterinarians, her father, uncle, brother, and two cousins all holding VMD degrees. Even more remarkable is the fact that since early childhood, Jo has been almost totally deaf and had to learn by reading lips. This courageous and determined woman for many years has been doing research at the Univer- sity of Pennsylvania Veterinary School. All her life Jo has been with animals, her father's practice having been farm animals. Her first love was horses and the Doctor won any number of ribbons, riding hunters over the jumps. Indeed, her thesis was written on the recurrent ophthalmia in the eyes of the horse. In the dog world, she long was known for her terriers, particularly Dandie Dinmonts. She also had Irish Terriers, Smooth Fox, and Kerry Blues. In 1956 she imported a Dandie, Salismore Silversand, and Jimmy Butler, her handler, quickly finished him. Silver was best of breed at Westminster and three years in a row took the national specialty. In 1961, Ch. Salis- more Playboy was Dandie of the year. The same year, Jimmy persuaded her to start judging, which she did on a very lim- ited scale. When Butler retired in 1966, Jo retired from the show ring and she began to accept more judging assignments. She was chosen to name best of breed at the national specialty that year and in 1967 was invited to do the British specialty at Carlisle. Now she has no dogs but plays a leading role in club work, being show chairman for Bucks County. Each year Bucks grows larger. Located between the Delaware River and the old ship canal, just south of New Hope, it has become one of

also housed breed-specific (and hundreds and hundreds of canine- related) books and magazines. This was a great resource for any- one, from the novice to the well-seasoned veteran, to learn all there is [to know] about dogs; just about everything ever written about not only the dogs themselves, but also the sport of dogs—from the whelping box to field trials and the show or obedience ring. Since the library housed so many books and periodicals, it also had a subscription to the New York Times . Every Thursday and Sunday the late Walter R. Fletcher had a column in the Times that covered the dog show world. Mr. Fletcher's columns carried the most popular events and, because of his keen [interest in the] history of our sport, he could take the readers' imagination to the actual show with his high-quality descriptions of the event and what had happened. Walter Fletcher covered dog shows for more than 60 years and passed away on February 15, 2000, just hours before the 124th Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winner was selected. In 1979, Walter Fletcher wrote about his life in our sport. The resulting book, My Times with Dogs , was first published in 1980 and is still one of my all-time favorite books about our sport. It is a timeless classic that, when looking back, shows that even though times have changed there are some things that have stayed the same. The 320 pages cover everything from “What Breed for Me?” and “The First Dog Show?” to “The Judging Problem” as well as biographies of judges of the day, shows and handicapping shows, breeders and exhibitors, and a plethora of information that any dog lover will appreciate. I was recently reading my copy again and I thought that many of our newer enthusiasts might enjoy a few excerpts from this great look back. (Note: All information in bold is from the book My Times with Dogs by Walter R. Fletcher, published by Howell Book House Inc. First Printing, 1980.) FAMILY AFFAIR “I never ceased to be amazed at the tremendous number of people taking part at the shows. Few sports are as demanding. This is a participation activity for dad, mom and the kids, in which the odds are all against them. Take a show with 3,000 dogs. Only 10 percent are going to do any meaningful win- ning, whereby they get points toward championships or take the breed to advance to a group. And there is only one best in show. The others get nothing, save a ribbon or two and per- haps a token trophy. For those fortunate to have a top winner, there are head- aches as well as prizes. Skyrocketing motel prices, food, rising gasoline costs, high insurance rates, entry fees, basic veteri- narian expenses make it an expensive hobby. Should there be a professional handler, and the owner attend the shows, it runs into big money. Peggy Westphal, whose Ch. Sagamore Toccoa was the top winning Cocker Spaniel in history, told me she never again could afford to campaign a major victor.”

Here we are, 40 years later, and these statements still ring true. Following the previous entry, Mr. Fletcher talks about:

“I never ceased to be amazed at the tremendous number of people taking part at the shows. Few sports are as demanding. This is a participation activity for dad, mom and the kids, in which the odds are all against them.”


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