Page 162 - ShowSight - November 2019
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                 Becoming: How A Fault Judge Ended A Dog’s Career... BY JACQUELYN FOGEL continued
His profile was proportionate, his long neck flowed into beautiful, clean shoulders, his head was beautiful,
his angulation in front and rear was amazing and he had better reach and drive than I have seen in a long time.”
the day of the second disqualification. I want to be able to show him occasionally as a Veteran, so I was unwilling to take a chance on a third disqualification. I am still proud of what he has accomplished—a lot of it with a breeder-owner-handler on the end of the lead.
A dog cannot reach the #2 spot in the country with only one testicle. All of those judges cannot be wrong—for 6 years. I don’t understand why the day 2 judge was so determined to disqualify a dog after he verified to himself that the dog actually had 2 equal-sized testicles. I think a judg- es’ duty is to find the best overall quality in the dogs he judges without any other agenda. Fault judging is never a good idea, and aggressively pursuing a disqualification on a highly ranked dog is mean-spirited and unnecessary.
This year I had the good fortune to be asked to judge a Basset specialty the day before the National in Denver. I usually don’t get to these shows because I am travel- ling out to Montgomery County with Bed- lington Terriers the same week these shows. But this offer was too good to pass up, even though I had a competitive Basset Special this year. It was a thrill to be able to judge all of the classes in a show the day before the main event.
Although the entry this year was rela- tively small for our breed, I thought the quality was exceptional. In many classes
all of the dogs in the ribbons could have won. In one class my test of fault judging vs. whole dog judging was put to the test.
In the 9-12 puppy dog class I had 4 outstanding dogs pulled for my finalists. I examined and moved them all, and watched as they struggled to set-up their 40-pound bags of Jell-O masquerading as Bassets. I had a tough decision. One of the young puppies had some obvious issues. His feet were a little turned out, he had a slight rise over his loin, and he did not want to stand on all four legs for more than about 2 sec- onds. But when I looked at the whole dog, he was magnificent. His profile was propor- tionate, his long neck flowed into beautiful, clean shoulders, his head was beautiful, his angulation in front and rear was amazing, and he had better reach and drive than I have seen in a long time. His handler strug- gled to keep him standing, but that did not bother me. I saw everything I needed to see when the dog floated around the ring. He was my choice to win the class, and ulti- mately, he was my choice for Winners Dog. I fully expected to hear a lot of complaints about the faults I obviously missed, but I didn’t. I was prepared to defend my deci- sion, but I really did not need to do that, either. Several long-time breeders expressed a lot of support for my finding a young dog that was so beautifully constructed, even if he was pretty immature. They appreciated my breeders’ perspective. I did not want to
go with a safe selection, middle of the road, not too bad and not too great. The minor faults the dog had were insignificant to the whole picture. The qualities that our stan- dard stresses as important were all found in this dog, and the minor faults were likely to correct with age. If I had been a fault judge, I would have made a different choice, a safer choice. I am very happy with the choice I made because it was the result of looking for the positives, not trying to find the nega- tives. I am looking forward to following this young dog’s career as he matures.
The old-time judges who mentored me, many of whom are no longer with us, always stressed the importance of looking for the positive traits in dogs. They loathed the fault judges who would pick a trait and focus on that one thing as though it was all that was important in the breed. I still hear some of the phrases that indicate too much focus on a single trait, e.g., “no tail, no bas- set!” I think many judges have forgotten that their role is not to find the safe dog, but to identify and prioritize traits to find the best dog. Fear of making a mistake has led to a lot of safe, generic judging. In the case of my now retired special, the fault judging was even worse because it had more to do with a judges’ ego than it did with the breed he was judging. There is no place for this type of judging in our shows.
 160 • ShowSight Magazine, noveMber 2019

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