Friday, June 12, 2015

Integrity and Stuff

Integrity and Stuff

The most important commodity that a judge brings to a dog show is integrity.  That doesn’t mean that knowledge is unimportant but the Standard like the Bible is open to interpretation.  You may disagree with the way I place a class based on how we see the standard or a difference in what we consider ideal, but if you think my opinion is not what I truly believe, then we have a really serious issue.  I’ve always felt it’s just as wrong to put a friend down because of our friendship as it would be to put them up because of it.  Years ago in an article by Major Godsol, a well respected west coast all breed judge, I read that you should never worry about anything north of the lead in a dog show.  He was so right!

Now if judges are to be held to this high standard of integrity where does that leave breeder-exhibitors and handlers?  Where do we draw the line between good grooming techniques and cheating?  When I was showing dogs in the 1960’s and 1970’s some thought my grooming and presentation of Collies was first rate.  I worked hard and learned from others who were good and learned what worked, but only within the rules.  I used Foo-Foo Powder on white areas and plain water to promote the coat’s voluminous appearance.  The white powder was brushed out thoroughly and I did not color dogs, weight ears, drop eyes or any of the garbage which seems to be common today.

If we need to resort to breaking the rules to make dogs up to be competitive, then we have failed as breeders and we have miserably failed the breed.  Good Collies, properly trimmed, groomed, and cleaned should have no trouble being competitive.  It makes me cringe when I hear someone use the excuse “everyone does it” or “you can’t win if you don’t do so and so!”  What an absolutely weak argument in favor of cheating rather than breeding correct dogs!

I had the pleasure of judging a nice group of Collies on May 23, 2015 as part of the Midwest Collie Club show.  As this dinosaur has gotten old and lazy my timeframe for judging has gotten smaller due to our Michigan weather.  November thru March can provide lots of travel problems so I’ve become a fair weather dinosaur.  The Midwest CC has been around a long time and I’m proud to have judged for them several times.  The Rough entry was particularly nice, but the Smooth specials class made up for the small number of class entries.  My thanks to the Midwest CC for allowing me to be part of this show and to the exhibitors for giving this old Dinosaur so much fun.

Recently someone asked me which paragraph in the standard I considered the most important.  Without much hesitation my reply was the first, of course.  My feeling is that this paragraph, which pictures the whole dog and how its put together could just as easily come at the end as a summary of what we want.  This answer, by the way doesn’t have to work for everyone.  My opinion is that you must understand all the parts, why they are called for and what the Collie is meant to do before this answer works for you.

When I talk about things like proper trimming of legs and feet to follow what the Standard calls for it’s not being unreasonable.  Likewise when we talk about letting a Collie be shown standing naturally on four good legs rather than placing its feet, we are paying attention to the Collie Standard.  Don’t do these things to humor this old dinosaur, but do them because it shows you care enough to do it right.

Dog show photographers have it in their heads that Collies need to be stacked and looking at a thrown toy to have a picture taken.  I’m waiting for some exhibitor to remind them how a good Collie looks its best.  The best dog I ever showed was Ch. Jadene’s Breezalong.  He was CC of A BB, a multiple group winner, and BIS under Alva Rosenberg the greatest all-breed judge who ever lived in my opinion.  You could have thrown toys all day and Breezy’s eyes never left my hands.  If he stepped wrong he immediately leveled up to stand square.  He was a show dog!

Think about it!!

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