Page 226 - ShowSight, March 2020
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                dance between handler and dog. You must read your dog every time before going into the ring. Is he/she feeling good today? Are you feeling good? Is your mind set on the task at hand, not what you are going to do tonight? Be in the moment with your dog, not what your friend is doing outside the ring. You only have two minutes to make your dog shine.
The largest health concern facing my breed today? There are two major concerns, Hemangiosarcoma and epilepsy. Hemangio- sarcoma, while difficult to detect until it presents itself in an acute form, is on the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America’s high priority list for research funds. Epilepsy effects 0.75% of the canine population, according to AKC Canine Health Foundation, with research ongoing in the complex interactions of one or more genes as well as environmental factors.
I started in Shelties in the late 80s then moved to Collies and now Shorthairs. This transition led me to seek out my old friend, George Alston, who promptly asked, “What are you doing with a Sporting dog?” After we chuckled, he spent time with me, one-on- one at his seminar, to teach me the nuances of showing a Sporting dog. Gwen DeMilta taught me the tricks of the trade, while Valerie Nunes-Atkinson helped polish my ring presence.
The biggest pitfall awaiting new and novice judges? As with all breeds, not knowing the standard.
The most amusing experience I’ve ever had at a dog show? In the Group ring, as the judge sent his cut around the ring individually, there was a post at the inside corner of the first turn. It was my turn with Ethel. As we started our around, she took the inside of the post and I took the outside. By this time, we were in full gait. The only thing to do was to drop the lead so I didn’t “clothesline” my dog. She gaited perfectly, not missing a step all the way to the end of the lineup stopped and stacked. While everyone ring side gasped and chuckled out loud. You just got to love a ring-wise dog.
I live in Surrey, B.C., Canada and I have owned and loved Golden Retrievers since 1974 and a Black Labrador from 1993-2007. I have shown in conformation, obedience and rally in the USA and Canada. Although no longer breeding, Bar- rie and I have bred and/or owned more than 60 champions, many OTCHs and GRCC Hall of Fame Goldens.
I am a Life Member of the Canadian Kennel Club and the Golden Retriever Clubs of America, Canada and British Columbia. I have held various Executive and Committee positions with both local and national Golden Retriever Clubs. I chair the GRCC Breed Standard and Judge’s Education Committee and was Chair of the GRCA Judges’ Education Committee for 15 years. I have presented seminars on Golden Retrievers in Canada, the USA, Australia, Indonesia and Japan.
I began judging in 1992 and am a CKC all-breed judge. I have judged all-breed and specialty shows across Canada and the USA, as well as Indonesia, with multiple trips to Australia and New Zea- land. I was honored to have judged bitches at the GRC of Scot- land championship show at the 2018 Guisachan Gathering. I have judged Golden Retriever National Specialties in the USA, Canada, Indonesia and Australia, the Canadian Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Club National, plus numerous other Sporting, Hound, Working and Herding breed specialties. I also serve on the Cana- dian Kennel Club Breed Standards Committee. Now retired, I worked for over forty years in the Library at my alma mater, Simon
Fraser University, and enjoy reading, music, choral singing, theatre and collecting anything “Golden”.
The current overall quality of the Sporting Group? I think some Sporting breeds are quite strong and others less so. There is a bell curve of quality, ranging from outstanding quality dogs to poorer specimens that are lacking type and/or soundness, with a number of good to average dogs in the middle. There appears to be a common problem of lack of balance in many Sporting breeds, with straight front angulation combined with over-angulated rears.
The depth of quality often seen at specialty shows is often lack- ing at the weekend all-breed shows and this can be challenging for judges. Many dedicated exhibitors prefer to show to breeder-judges when available, as more often they reward the most correct dogs. Fads, over-grooming and generic judging have seen breeds diverge from the requirements of their breed standard. “Top dogs” may not necessarily be the most correct specimens of their breeds. The cor- rect dog sometimes looks different and judges need to be knowl- edgeable and confident enough to recognize that dog.
What makes a Sporting Dog the ideal companion in these 21st- century times? The structure and temperament required of most Sporting dogs allows them to enjoy family life and a number of versatile pursuits. Sporting breeds often work together and their temperaments are amenable to dealing with other dogs and diverse situations. The Sporting Group has a lot of moderately sized, nor- mal structured dogs, that with the correct, easy care coats and reasonable exercise, makes them very suitable for today’s society. Any dog needs stimulation and the Sporting breeds can generally be used for may purposes that draw on their natural instincts and abilities to successfully compete in a variety of competitive activi- ties, from conformation, obedience, rally, tracking, field/hunting, scent work, etc. as well as serve as therapy dogs, service dogs and wonderful companions.
Any particular challenges Sporting Dog breeders face in our current economic/social climate? Many dog breeders are facing the marketing challenges of the designer dogs. In the Sporting Group, the Goldendoodles, Labradoodles and Cockapoos are often pro- moted as hypo-allergenic and healthier than purebreds, which may not be the case. These dogs are sold at prices as high or higher than dedicated purebred breeders charge for puppies from researched pedigrees and parents with extensive health clearances. We have a younger segment of society that seeks instant gratification and are often not prepared to wait for a well-bred dog. There are fewer people who hunt today, with or without dogs, whether for sport or subsistence, so that market demand is not what it may have been in the past.
What advice would I give a newcomer to the sport? Find an objective, knowledgeable mentor who has had success as a breeder and exhibitor. Someone who has an understanding of the history and function of the breed and has been involved long enough to have experienced the joys and heartbreaks of dog breeding and exhibiting. It should be someone who puts the best interests of their breed above winning at all costs. Most importantly, have fun with your dog and try lots of things together. The relationship you build with your dog will go far beyond the immediate gratification of a ribbon.
What’s the largest health concern facing my breed today? Lym- phosarcoma and Hemangiosarcoma are two major concerns in Goldens, but luckily there is a number of research studies ongo- ing in this area, some supported by the Golden Retriever Founda- tion, so there is hope for the future. In Golden Retrievers, we have two diseases which have proven very challenging. Golden Retriever Pigmentary Uveitis, a serious eye disorder, has a mean age of diag- nosis of 8.5 years. Research has been underway for a number of years now, in an attempt to understand the mode of inheritance and hopefully develop a DNA test, but that hasn’t happened yet.

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