Friday, December 12, 2014

I'm Back!

I’m Back!

It’s been a long time since my last blog, so I thought I’d better surface or be considered extinct.  We got an early dose of the Michigan winter, but the snow melted and it’s been balmily above freezing lately.  We know there’s plenty of winter left, but any respite is welcome.

As mentioned earlier the judging assignment in Omaha, Nebraska was great.  It was my first assignment in several years due to some health and accident issues.  I’ve had to cancel some assignments and refused some others because of the fear I might have to cancel.   Getting older is not so great, but judging is a joy even to this old dinosaur.  Since I’m feeling great there are a couple of additional assignments I’ve accepted and we hope the weather and my old body allow them to happen.

The Collie Standard has come up often in these blogs.  There
is a really good reason for that.  The standard is the blueprint for all we do in breeding or judging the Collie.  Though some folks think just being able to read it or recite it from memory is all that’s important,  that’s not the case.  Do you really understand what it says and can you form the actual picture that The Standard’s words direct.

When Doris Werdermann was president of the CC of A I chaired the education committee.  Doris asked us to create something to benefit those wishing to judge Collies and that could also help clarify the standard to all Collie fanciers.  The Judge’s Guide to the Collie Standard was born from that request.  The guide had a cover beautifully illustrated by Mary Kummer and went thru each section of The Standard with thoughts on what it really suggests.  The summation at the end of this guide points out the importance of things above and beyond being able to read the standard.

This old dinosaur had been involved with Collies as an avid reader, breeder, exhibitor and judge for many years.  It might be easy to say I know the Collie standard – case closed!  In truth I do think I know the standard and even more important understand it.  In spite of that it’s an old habit to review it periodically and always before each judging assignment review the standard, the Judge’s Guide, and Lorraine Still’s Illustrated Standard.  The perfect Collie has never been whelped and the perfect description of the perfect collie may never have been written, but dedication to acquiring better understanding is seldom a waste of time.

Years ago when I belonged to the South Jersey CC we set aside at least one meeting each year for discussing the Collie standard.  It was a great time to go thru one paragraph at a time and state opinions or ask questions.  You can gain some important food for thought by listening to others.  Understanding the meaning of the written word can be clarified when you see how others differ in their interpretation and sometimes you realize some tweaking of the language is in order.  Don’t ever consider yourself above such review and if you can use some live dogs as in a judges education program, please do so.

Let’s change direction for a moment and talk about dog show attire.  To be honest I find some of the clothing in show pictures a bit bizarre.  Whether it’s the judges or the exhibitors we seem to have lost track of what the focus should be on – the dogs!  We have judges wearing tuxedos or evening gowns depending on the gender as though it’s a people show not a dog show.  There are photos of Jr. handlers dressed as though for a high school prom not a handling competition.  Pardon me, but I was always taught that the really talented handler blends into the background letting the dog take center stage.

Many years ago at a National where I judged bitches, there was a talented young lady getting ready to show an exquisite male special.  She was well groomed as was the dog and he obviously liked his handler and showed well for her.  The problem with the picture was her shoes, which while stylish, were not made to show a free moving sound young special.  I remarked on the potential problem and she changed shoes.  The dog went BOB and might have anyhow, but why make things harder than they should be?

There is a talented couple in Collies who I’ve known for years and I’ve judged their dogs often.  Sometimes they go up and sometimes they lose, but they never beat themselves.  The dogs are always groomed and trained to perfection and the people likewise dressed appropriately and handle in a professional manner.  If they lose it’s because they encountered a Collie I believe better fits our standard.  Groom well, train well and dress appropriately so the dog is the focus.  Oh yes, one more important factor – have a good Collie!

Think about it!!

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