Committed to the improvement of the breed by breeding for health, temperament and better structure in dogs that have the ability to herd.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Do Not Show List and Judge Accountability

Since the beginning of my showing of animals (pigeons, sheep, dogs, dairy cattle, etc) I've always heard people say things after losing for various reasons "Well I will not show to that judge ever" or something like "He won't get my entry again". Many times I felt like asking the person WHY they will not bring a bird, cow or dog to that judge again but usually I keep my mouth shut.

In my seven years of dog showing I have never come across a judge that I would never show to again. Until recently. Sure I have shown to judges several times and never won anything. They didn't like my dog on that day, or didn't like the type of dog that I was showing at that show, or maybe their condition, maturity, lack of grooming etc etc. The list could almost be endless.

I've shown and lost to these judges numerous times. Every time I would say, 'well they didn't like my dog today'. And in the first 5 years of so I did have many different types of Cardigans in the ring. Every time it was a different style of dog, and different age if I showed the dog several times to that judge. Never did I say I wouldn't show them again. Stupid? Perhaps.

Things I need to remember:

1. My dogs' merit based on what else was at the show that day. The next time my dog could be the best dog in the ring and maybe the judge will see it.
2. My dogs' age. A judge may not like it as a puppy but later, when mature love it. sometimes the other way around.
3. My ability to show the dog to the best of its ability. This includes training, grooming and everything about presentation. It may have been a wild child in the ring and again later could be better trained.

In livestock and pigeon judging, which I've been certified to do both for over a decade, we have to give oral reasons for why we placed animal 1 before 2 and why 2 was where it was over 3, even though 3 may have had something nicer and more obvious to the public watching. By the end of the reasons and judging everyone knew why I placed a class the way I did, and fully understood it and respected my reasoning (for the most part). In dog shows we get no critique (at least in AKC). We the exhibitors get to go on a huge Assumption Hunt and decide to say things like "he's a blue judge, she's a movement judge, she doesn't like puppies, he loves puppies, he only puts up a familiar face or she only puts up handlers".....the list could be extensive. And then we talk about it to each other. A lot. And online. Over the phone. At puppy parties or even ringside.

I was raised a very strict and traditional Lutheran Missouri Synod boy. We did not talk ill of people. And most importantly we would make our own judgement on a person (be it a teacher, friend, judge or whomever) on our own time and in our own dealings. Just because 90% of the population hates someone or won't show to someone, if I haven't met the person, or in this case, shown to the judge I will still enter until that judge proves me the idiot for entering under them.

I haven't had a special before. I have never followed a judge that gave me a group placement (because I've never had one yet). I've never followed a judge to shows because they put my dog up before. I HAVE entered shows where the judge put me up before, but I will not go out of my way for it. I also have never made friends with the judges and then bring my dogs to them in hopes of winning because of being their friend versus the merits of my dogs. Can other people do it? Certainly. And a lot of people do. Will I ever do it? Its hard to say today, but my thoughts in my mind are NO, i will not do that. If a judge happens to come back to this neck of the woods and has put my dog up before, I will certainly enter but that does not guarantee I will win or that my dog was the best dog there that day. And I can live with that.

The past few years the style of dogs in my home have narrowed in on two types for lack of a better description (yes the obvious Briard vs. Cardigan for you funny types reading this) but two 'styles' of Cardigans rather. And I do not remember judges well enough (names or faces for that matter) to remember showing under certain ones before. So now if a judge would not like my dogs, I would understand why (perhaps they don't like the style of cardigan I am showing to them, or the slow developing lines or whatever it may be). Because we don't have oral reasons we are not holding our judges to accountability

Again I don't mind losing to dogs that are better. Mine are not perfect. When the entire ringside group of CWC breeders stand there in shocked disbelief (myself included) I would think that none of us will be showing to that judge again. And maybe, next time the kennel club brings them around to judge, with little to no entries....well....they'll figure it out.

I myself being a judge, (all bred pigeon judge, which the National Pigeon Association recognizes over 1,000 breeds) it is difficult to know every standard for every breed. Luckily we are able to have a 'book of standards' available to use at all times. We still have to discuss orally our reasoning for placing birds the way we think they should be, and then usually spend time after the judging talking to the exhibitors about what to improve on, what I did right, and how far off base I was to the interpretation of the standard. Fortunately for many breed specific shows you must be qualified and passed to judge larger shows, and if you screw up a big show, you go back for more 'shadowing' and tutoring to be the best judge you can be. I'd hope AKC has something like that in place for judges and when complaints are filed, that the judges heed the criticism just like a pigeon judge would and want to be a better judge for the betterment of the breed.

I"m sure this is just ranting to some of you, but I appreciate all of the private emails and phone calls as of late in regards to my posts. Its comforting to know I am not alone in these thoughts and welcome feedback to my thoughts. I'm not saying I'm right, I'm just glad to be able to 'work things out' as I get them off my chest.

Who knew 2012 would be so insightful for me? :)


Taryn said...

Unrelated to the dog show part, your line where you wrote: "We did not talk ill of people. And most importantly we would make our own judgement on a person (be it a teacher, friend, judge or whomever) on our own time and in our own dealings.".

What a wonderful way to be raised!

Cindy said...

I've been trying to teach this to someone for about a year now! Thanks for the great post.

Yes, you do have to look at each show individually. Who was there, the condition of the dogs(including yours)and yes, the judge's preferences.

I never have an issue being beat by a better dog or knowing dogs of equally good qualities, the dog with the qualities that that judge prefers won that day.

Being beaten by the face on the north end of the lead or the color of a dog does put me off quite a bit and yes I do have a DNS list. But I also know to reevalute that list based on the dog I will be showing on a given day. Though rude judges or those that are openly opinionated by the person handling, never get off that list.

Next time I have a blue dog, I know which one to show to. Or if I have a large dog with loads of clearance and a specific head type-though I very much doubt I'll have one of those :) that's the judge I'll show to.

Now is that correct? Not necessarily, but if the dog has other attributes that make it a nicer dog, then yes. Take the advantage where you can get it, knowing that the next judge might totally hate that quality.

penni said...

I have a list. The judges on it were rude to exhibitors, or heavy-handed with puppies, or I could not figure out what they were looking for. With the last group, I notify the CWCCA Judges' Education Committee. The Committee can offer the judge a refresher on Cardigans. My DNS list has nothing to do with whether my dogs won or not.

Garrett808 said...

I agree Penni....judges who are rough with pups, or barely go over my dog will get a serious second thought about entering under again. Or those who say things to me like "oh i already knew what i was going to do with the dogs before they came in the ring" kind of comments.

The one judge we were all so shocked and embarrassed for I don't think any of us will show to again. When we found out who his mentor was it made a lot more sense and he needs to be re-educated.

Cindy said...

On that same line, mentoring, we have run into cases where it's also important to know who the judges showed with while they were exhibitors.

We have one judge who hates a close friend because she routinely beat him in the ring-decades ago! She can not show to him, even if she were the only dog-he'll withhold. And since it's become known that we are friends and show her dogs-we can't do anything under this judge now. It's really ugly.

As far as reeducation, it's hard, especially when you hear that a particular judge is an oldie and stuck in their ways or that anything said won't do any good because of who they are friends with or mentored by? It would be great if all judges were willing to learn but many aren't.