Monday, September 10, 2012

Of Being Judged and Judging

Of Being Judged and Judging

A few days ago I saw a picture of Kitleigh Knickerbocker with John Buddie handling to Winners Dog at the Central Penn. Specialty in Harrisburg with yours truly judging.  Actually my favorite picture of John winning under me is on page 347 of Gayle Kaye’s book “The Collie In America.”  John looks about 13 and I look like I’m going to the prom!  Over the years John’s shown a lot of good dogs under me.  One of my favorites was Ch. Tartanside Apparently who I put winners dog at a New York Specialty.  He was later BB at the CC of A and also at the Steve Field tribute show with Steve judging. 

I’ve now gotten ahead of myself since I was being judged before doing the judging.  During my years as an exhibitor my dogs were shown to lots of judges.  Over time one learns who likes the type you breed and sometimes who likes you.  Some judges have strange ideas and you learn to adjust or drop them from your list.  There was an elderly gent from Washington, DC named Wm. Ackland, he insisted that you set your dog’s legs no matter how sound he might be.  After a few losses I set the legs and did fine. 

Percy Roberts was respected as a top handler and later as a sought after all breed judge.  I first showed under Percy in a group I believe with Breezalong.  Now Breezy was as sound as a rock, but I kneeled to check his legs anyhow.  Mr. Roberts told me to “stand up, he’s a working dog and you can’t do him justice on your knees.”

Dorothy Long, the mistress of Noranda was full of wisdom and widely respected as both a breeder and judge.  Early in my career as an exhibitor I showed under her in a group with a dog I thought was well groomed.  When she examined him she lifted his feet so I could see it wasn’t trimmed underneath and between the pads.  Years later when judging I used to let folks know when they’d mess up something like building up the back skull or loading the muzzle by stopping when I handled the offending part, looking at them, and smiling.  Caught you!  Faking of color, on the other hand, got you automatically excused.

There were so many judges over the years and my opinion of them was just that, my opinion. Of the specialty judges Steve Field was the king .  Alex Gibbs was a great judge as honest as they come.  I thought Gus Sigritz was good and still remember with a smile when Lyman Wine said he wished he could “groom like George Horn, show like John Buddie, and judge like Gus Sigritz”.

All breed judges were a mixed bag, but Alva Rosenberg was at the top of the list.  There was an award offered for the country’s outstanding judge and after Alva won it the first three years offered, they put in a limiting clause that it couldn’t be won by the same  person more than three times.  He was that good and knew Collies and all other breeds and had a memory for dogs and how he placed them that defied belief.

When I exhibited I never passed dogs off to someone else to try to fool the judge.  If I went winners dog and had a bitch in winners I was the one who showed her.  The only time I asked for help was if I had two in at once such as with two class winners.  Generally I picked the wrong one to take in for winners.   At the big Trenton Specialty when I took Soellner’s open sable dog in for winners, Helene Carpenter smiled sweetly at me and said “you brought the wrong dog in“ when she put up my puppy!

In my years of exhibiting only one judge put me both winners dog and winners bitch and both times it was major shows.  The judge was Steve Field and I guess you could say he had the courage of his convictions. 

Frank Foster Davis was an all-rounder from California Supposedly linked to the movie business.  He gave me my first group with my first champion from the classes.  He later gave Breezy a group at the Hartford show.

Phil Marsh was an ex handler who became a popular judge.  Over the years we did well under him including the group at the big Trenton show.  Phil loved Breezalong and when he judged The Garden I couldn’t wait to get the entry sent off.  The Collie specials were judged about 10 pm in that hot building and my dog just quit.  Phil leaned  over to examine him and said “what’s wrong with him tonight?”  I could only shrug my shoulders and look dumb.

The funniest group I won was at Upper Marlboro, MD.  I had Breezalong there and he took the breed.  Lina Basquette, the Dane lady, had a well known special there who lost to a class bitch.  Lina was furious.  I had one of her Danes as a housedog so I knew Lina.  She came up and asked me if I had my good Collie there.  When I said yes, she told me to have him on his toes in the group and he’d do well.  I saw her talking to the group judge and sure enough Breezy won the group.  The Dane obviously didn’t place!  Never won anything else under that judge

There were judges I couldn’t win under if I walked on water in the ring.  One judge put my special down without ever touching him!  Fortunately being very mild mannered I took it in stride! (Ha-Ha)

Gus Sigritz once told me if you get the reputation for being too good a loser, judges find it easier to put your dog down.  Ed Myers once told me how to assess a judges honesty.  An honest judge can sleep with an exhibitor the night prior to a show and put their dog down the next day.  I never asked Ed anything further.

I met some wonderful judges over the years and the wisdom they passed on has served me well. (I hope)  We can gain a lot of knowledge by listening to the right people.  Be sure you can tell the wheat from the chaff!

When I set out to be a judge I had over 15 years in Collies and had won the CC of A.  As mentioned in an earlier blog I started with matches and worked my way up to sweeps on the way.  There were many lessons to be picked up as an aspiring judge just as there had been as a breeder-exhibitor.  One of the things I read attributed to Major Godsol, a well known west coast all-breed judge was this: “Never let your eyes wander north of the dog you’re judging.”  Translation – judge the dog and don’t concern yourself with who the handler might be.

Over the years it’s been my pleasure to judge many fine dogs.  My first major sweeps assignment was at the CC of Long Island. Trudy Mangels won with a male called Brandywyne  The Dude.  His litter sister, I believe owned by Janet Leek was BOS in sweeps.  Trudy and I competed up and down the east coast and she was a tough adversary, “forget the other end of the leash!”

Steve Field was my mentor, teacher, and treasured friend.  The first time I judged the Collie Club of Nebraska Steve got last in every class and his special went down to a class dog.  Steve may not have agreed, but never a word of reproof crossed his lips.  Class does tell.

I did put Steve up later with a dog that may have been his last champion, Ch. Parader’s Regal Lancer.

Joyce Hauser of Twin Creeks was a skilled breeder and exhibitor.  She won lots of points under me including the CC of A.  At least twice she won both majors under me, but once the WD was Twin Creeks Damn Yankee owned by Marion Liebsch.  He went from the puppy class to BB and his sister was BOS.  Later Joyce took WD (I think in Minnesota) with Twin Creeks Tuff Guy.  Same day she also had WB for another major.  Joyce did most of her showing in the midwest while I was back east but we bumped heads occasionally.  A fierce competitor she paid me the ultimate compliment when she said “it’s more fun to show under you than against you!”

Marion Liebsch showed a multitude of fine dogs under me starting with the afore mentioned Twin Creeks Damn Yankee and winding up with the blue Ghostbuster.  This was a blue with two blue eyes and I was sure he couldn’t win under me.  First time under me he was Winners Dog and from then on he was Best of Breed culminating with his win from the veterans class at the Dominion Collie Specialty in Canada over a ton of champions.  Over the years she showed me a wonderful sable bitch who I put BB and who went on to win CC of A  BB as well.  A lovely tri male who I made WD at Presque Isle CC and later went WD at CC of A under Les Canavan.

As mentioned earlier John has shown me lots of fine dogs as had the Kellers, the Soellners, Judy Evans, Debbie Holland, Marcy Fine, Don and Les Jeszewski and many others.  I’d rather not dwell too much of people who are still active and be accused of trying to influence anyone.

One more Kudo must go out however and that is Gayle Kaye’s Chelsea Collies.  My last assignment in CA she bred WD, WB, and BB with three different dogs from one litter.  In my memory no one ever did that under me before.

So from my first show when I gave the indomitable Black Hawk of Kasan BB over 175 Rough Collis for I believe his first BB to the Chicago CC where this part of my career ends.  It’s been a great ride!

All of which proves with proper training even a dinosaur can judge Collies. 

Think About It!

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