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When Judging Goes Wrong

by Ian Copus

DOG SHOW JUDGES, as I discussed previously, usually emerge from the ranks of exhibitors, breeders and in Canada, professional handlers All judges will have their personal preferences when judging, this is only natural. As long as they keep in mind the standard for the breed they are judging, all should be fair to exhibitors. The topic of poor judges is particularly hot in Canada at present with new rules for Conformation Judges being issued by the C.K.C., effective April 1st 1999. The C.K.C. is attempting to ensure that judges are ethical and completely fair when carrying out their duties for which they are being paid.

Judges must know the breed

There are always a lot of complaints amongst exhibitors at dog shows, often referred to as the "Sore Loser Syndrome". Exhibitors must not confuse the judge who has placed his dogs in preference of type or some individual breed standard point he may be fanatical about, with the judge who is blatantly picking out faces of handlers or people he knows. The first is bad luck. You have entered under the judge who does not like your type, or your dog does not possess his particular fad. The second is bad judging

Nothing is worse for exhibitors than the judge who has not familiarized himself with the breed standard - this happens more in Canada and the USA., than in England. I was recently shocked when a judge on permit, for whom I was stewarding, admitted never having looked at the standard for the breed she was judging that day. Another example was a top all-rounder at a breed seminar I was giving on the Bearded Collie, judged eye toning in the Beardie, with the white of the Beardie coat. This is an expensive hobby for all exhibitors, and it is essential for any judge to familiarize themselves, and become knowledgeable with the broods for which they are seeking approval, or for which they have been approved.


Judging the Dog, not the exhibitor


There are judges who intimidate exhibitors, and take advantage of their position. These people have no place in the centre of our rings. 1 witnessed a young exhibitor who was really put to the test at a Specialty, when the judge spent an inordinate amount of time looking at the free stacking of her exhibit, only to be told by the judge, " 1 just want to see how good a junior handler you think you are." Exhibitors have paid the judge a compliment of entering and showing under him and deserve to be treated in a fair manner. Furthermore, a rough judge can easily destroy a young puppy or a novice handler. Patience, tolerance and understanding are essential qualities, and if not possessed by a judge, I do not believe they are temperamentally suited for the task of judging.

There are, and always will be, judges who judge the person on the end of the leash, instead of the dogs they see before them. However, this is a difficult point for any exhibitor to prove, unless there are witnesses who overhear the judge stating he judged the handlers and not the dogs. Yet it happens. A recent visitor from England told me of the judge who gave her dog the Reserve C.C. Whilst filling out, the card, the judge said to her "Oh, my wife thought I would give you the C.C., but I'm sorry I did not recognize you". (C.C. - Winners', Reserve C.C. = Reserve Winners) More often than not, an exhibitor is too shocked to respond immediately, and clever judges, as in this case, always ensure there are no witnesses close by.

This leads one to the issue of judges who place certain people in order to ensure further assignments or engagements, because those exhibitors hold positions of power within certain show giving clubs. Again, this is wry difficult to prove, and could often be coincidental; the exhibitor may well have had the best dog. One must remember that it is equally unethical to accuse judges of corruption - unless one has the proof

International issues

Since moving to Canada from England the big difference I see is the accountability of judges In Canada and the U.S.A. judges are not expected to write critiques on dogs, unless at a Specialty. Therefore, they can just place the dogs, record in their judge's book and move on. Some exhibitors will question judges (this should always be done at a suitable break in the judging), but some judges are threatened by this action. However, the novice exhibitor who is keen to learn should be encouraged to ask the judge for their opinion, as long as it is done politely, and without disturbing the flow of judging. I well remember, years ago, showing a male under a judge who had previously placed the same dog very highly. This time the judge completely ignored him, stating the class was big and he could not find him. In a later class I returned with a female, who was not worthy to be placed, but actually won the class, with the judge saying, "I hope that makes up for not placing your ale". Sometimes judges do not know when to keep their mouths shut.

There are endless examples that you and I could give to illustrate the point of judges who make mistakes. A judge should never apologize to the exhibitors for his placements; that is what he is there to do: judge the dogs and place them in order of his choosing, interpreting the breed standard.

I close this article with another quotation from Tom Horner. In his book, "Take Them Round Please", he sums up judging perfectly.

"When judging you must not be swayed by any consideration, except by the relative merit of the dog. in front of you. You have but one duty: to judge the dogs. Forget the handlers, and forget what the dogs have won previously. Place the dogs as you think they should stand, never mind if the winner belongs to your best friend or your worst enemy. Disregard the fact that you won under one of the exhibitors last week, and that another is judging at the next show Be completely selfish - please yourself and simply judge the dogs and safeguard your reputation. That is the only way to gain respect from your peers"

If you follow this advice, you will never be used as an an example of "when judging goes wrong."


Copyright © 1999 (Ian Copus)
All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
   


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Last revised: November 11, 2010