The Literate Kerry (Vol. 9)

Thoughts on Judging and Exhibiting

(The following excerpts were taken from a number of sources, however, they all have a central theme.)

Excerpt below taken from, “Bobby’s Main Vice was Orgies”
by Terence Brady

The more I see of dogs shows, the less I like people. I’m not talking Cruft’s here. I’m talking local. And rural. And small. They can be quite unnerving experiences as I discovered. I was invited to adjudicate in “The-Dog-You’d-Most-Like-To-Take-Home-With-You” class recently at one of our friendly neighbourhood canine expos, and accepted. Shows just how wrong you can be. I got savaged.

And not by a dog either. Nor by an owner. By several owners. All the proud proprietors of Dogs-You’d-Most-Like-To-Take-Home-With You. And they weren’t kidding. Two middle-aged ladies of indeterminate sex, who are usually to be found arranging the flowers in the Church, gave me a public and extremely abusive dressing down for passing over their most unappealing pub. A hitherto quite amenable ex-military gentleman now blantantly turns his back on me in the snug of The Mason’s Codpiece the moment I have bought him his gin and tonic for ignoring his rickety and foul-breathed whippet.

Worst of all, I receive regular anonymous hate mail from the little old lady down the road in the Thistle Cottage who looks like Mrs. Tiggywinkle. I know the letters are from her because she signs them Yours anonymously, Miss Ada Woolridge, Thistle Cottage. Apparently she will never forgive me till her dying day for failing to call into the final line-up her aging and toothless dachshund who rumour unkindly has it is in fact not a dog at all but a stoat.

But as anyone who has ever adjudicated knows only too well, the business of amateur arbitration more often than not veers inevitably towards the subjective. And the fact that I gave the Blue Ribbon in the class to the lookalike of my own first and beloved of canine companions, a sort of sheepdog thing, all hair, George Robey eyebrows, size ten and a half paws, and straight off the Walt Disney drawing board, should come as no great surprise to anyone.

Excerpt below taken from Bulldogdom, 1919
by A. G. Sturgeon

There is an old axiom. “An exhibitor’s business is to hide his dog’s faults and a judge’s to find them,” but do not infer from that saying anyone is entitled to fake his dog. There is just an ordinary ring-craft sense required, and if the dog being shown has a particular fault, the exhibitor will learn in time to make so much of the dog’s good qualities that the fault in question is more or less lost sight of by the judge.

If the exhibitor is a sportsman there is no need for me to dwell on the advice, “Keep smiling – win or lose.” But unfortunately there is a class of exhibitor whose idea of dog-showing is covered by the words, ” Wine, tie or wrangle,” and to such people there is only one course suggested, which is, either change their methods or keep out altogether. This class of exhibitor, unless placed at the top, either rags the judge openly or crawls round the show hinting at all sorts of low down ulterior motives.

If an exhibitor cannot both win and lose decently, his place is at home. To shy one’s hat in the air and behave otherwise like an exhuberant puppy with a bone, when one wins, and to give way to pettish temperment with malious mouthings when one loses, is to declare one’s-self absolutely outside the pale in any sport.

Excerpt below taken from Me and My Dogs, 1933
by Lady Kitty Ritson

Then I had to make tracks for New York, where I was judging Alsatians at the Westminster show.

I found to my horror that I was scheduled to begin at eight o’clock in the evening, a moment when I am generally thinking of my bed. This was the second time in my life that I have been really frightened in the show-ring, when I stood there really quite alone in a huge ring with hundreds of seats around, many of them filled with women in furs and wearing diamonds. Somebody kindly gave me a clap, and then everybody clapped – a friendly demonstration towards a shivering stranger which did do quite a bit towards heartening me.

That is a magnificent show, and the organization is wonderful. The dogs are kept below and brought upstairs for their classes when wanted by means of telephone messages. The rings are scrupulously clean and there is hardly any noise. I have judged three times in America, once at the “Garden” (Westminster) and twice at Mrs. Dodge’s show, the Morris and Essex. The latter is a fairyland show, held in May, out of doors, in blazing sunshine on a ground which is bright with flags and coloured chairs. Last time there was an entry of 2,000 individual dogs, and a “gate” of 25,000 people.

But to return to the New York show. I was inwardly shaking with the fright in that great ring, until I had looked over the first puppy dog, and then I was only interested. If you know your job you haven’t time to be frightened, and you can say that you know your job without being conceited. You may judge well or badly, but you can still know your job. At the end of the day you are fully cognisant of whether you have just judged “according to Cocker” or whether you have been blessed with that wonderful spirit of inspiration which every judge sometimes gets.

I enjoyed myself that evening, and I was looking fowards to doing the bitches the next day (“the females,” as most people in America call them, or “the matrons”). They still fight a bit shy of that controversial word “bitch.”

Classes in America are rather different from England, as at the very end of all things is a supreme class entitled “Not For Competition in the Classes” where the champions all parade. This provides intense excitement all round. So far, a little bitch had carried everything before her. She had won her classes, she was “Best of Winners’ and now she was to meet all the giants in keen combat.

Dear little “Lola,” I shall never forget her with her lovely feminine outline, and her perfect dignity. It was chock-a-block with well-known German imported champions, many of them old friends that I knew well. Amongst them, the celebrated “Utz v. Hauschutting,” a dog who was supposed to be the marvel of the age, and the latest German Grand Champion.

I paraded them round, I gazed at them, I weighed them up, and then I looked again at Lola- Lola so sound, so quiet, so typical, with none of the exaggerations which have ruined the breed. I walked forward and gave her handler, Simpson, the coveted purple and gold ribbon. Little Lola had beaten all the champions, and beaten them rightly.

Last Updated: 08/30/2004, 11:38 am