Page 92 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 92

                If you’re fortunate to visit France, you can see some of the 33 scent hound breeds, and may be able to tag along with one of the more than 300 hound packs in the pursuit and harvesting of deer, wild hogs, and hare. Law enforcement units across the country employ various Working and Herding breeds in all forms of seeking, guard- ing, and protecting. The owners of many goat and sheep herds, be they small or large, employ the guarding abilities of various Working breeds, and others utilize Herding breeds to assist them in gathering or moving their herds, including cattle. While horses and four-wheelers are great, they can’t beat the maneuverability of a well-trained Herding dog.
Then there are the simulations of all of the above “jobs”. These include, but are not limited to, field trials, hunt tests, schutzhund, carting, weight-pulls, sled races, tracking, straight and oval track racing, earth dog and barn hunt tests, herding trials and tests, and water rescue to name a few.
Do you discuss form and function with those persons that use dogs that “work for a living?” What have you learned that will make you a better arbiter of your breed when it comes time to plan a mating, to evaluate puppies, to choose puppies to run on, or to exhibit? Are you realistically evaluating yourself as to your respect for and acknowledgement of the work traditions and function of your breed?
As a current or former breeder, exhibitor, owner, and/or former handler with depth of showing experience, you bring another per- spective to the need for continuing education. It is assumed that in your own breed(s) you have become totally familiar with the histo- ry, function, purpose, development, and evolution of your breed(s). What about those breeds that are not your “home breeds”, those breeds with which you are not steeped in experience?
In order to be provisionally approved to judge a breed, you have attended breed seminars, hands-on workshops, attended the National Specialty, been mentored by breed experts, made kennel visits to evaluate dogs of varying ages, perhaps looked at the old AKC videos on the breed, reviewed the parent club’s educational materials about the breed on the club’s website or in paper format, or even attended a breed-specific performance event such as a field trial, hunt test, or earth dog test.
You receive your provisional/permit approval to pass judge- ment on a breed or breeds where your continuing education per- sists. There’s a widely known quote by a well-known now departed judge, that in essence says we judges get to practice while we are still learning. Isn’t that the truth? If all goes well, you will be regu- larly approved to judge a breed once your provisional/permit assign- ments are completed. Your quest for greater knowledge of regularly approved breeds should not end there.
For judges that have moved into judging territory in breeds/ groups with which they don’t have experience, it is incumbent upon them to continue to gain in-depth breed knowledge. This may mean checking with a breed mentor after an assignment to discuss the dogs and your rationale for placements. It may also mean dis- cussing the dogs with a highly knowledgeable B-O-E on the day. How many times have we stopped to ask ourselves, “Did I do the right thing?” Having a knowledgeable mentor or B-O-E to ask and receive honest feedback from gives you reinforcement of your adju- dication or the opportunity to better understand, and possibly cor- rect, your prioritization of traits within that breed.
Do you discuss the breed with knowledgeable B-O-Es just for the sheer joy of learning and discussion? Continue to attend shows with significant entries of a breed and sit ringside with one or two of these individuals to watch, listen, and discuss. The nuances of each breed that are gained through such exchanges are invaluable. Discussions of current fads, strengths and weaknesses in the breed are of benefit to your future adjudication of a breed.
Want to really know a breed? Watch it do its “job”! In too many breeds there is a chasm between show dogs and “working” dogs. Coat and grooming frequently add to that divide. What a revela- tion it was to me to observe Poodles retrieving ducks on land and in water. For two years in a row I attended the Working Certifi- cate and Working Certificate Excellent tests while PCA was still in Salisbury, MD and Anne Rogers Clark was still alive. I distinctly remember watching a standard retrieve a duck from the lake and coming out with its head held high and that duck in his mouth. It was as if the light bulb went on. I turned to Annie and said, “now I understand carriage in this breed.” Her smile was all I needed as reassurance of what she had explained in the seminar and workshop!
Have you watched a sight hound course live game versus an artificial lure at a lure coursing field trial? Do you understand the reconnaissance trot leading up to the chase is not one of tremendous reach and drive, but an effortless way of spotting game and saving the expense of energy needed for powerful, speedy, agile and endur- ing galloping during the chase?
Have you watched Great Pyrenees appear to be asleep or non- chalantly gazing away near to their herd of goats? What happened when an unknown dog approached the herd? The insight you gained from being a part of, or watching that interaction, gives you information about the character of the breed and how it does its job.
Understanding how form and function fit and act together makes us all better adjudicators, whether B-O-E or approved judge. We owe it to our breed(s), to those dogs upon which judgement is passed, and to ourselves. Be thirsty, be hungry for knowledge, always.

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