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Nancy R. Leuba

In my experience, most dog show judges sincerely want to do a good job. To the extent they fail in that intent I believe that it is a matter of insufficient knowledge or experience with the nuances of a particular breed.

Many judges are aware of the need to continue their "education" about judging and expand t

heir knowledge about individual breeds and judging generally. Over the past few years, a number of loosely organized "judges workshop" groups have grown up around the country as a reflection of those felt needs. (The udges workshop with which I am associated-the Washington Area Judges Workshop-has been meeting 6-10 times a year for more than five years, with a regularly participating group of 20 or so judges). At the same time, increasing efforts have been undertaken on an ad hoc basis by breed clubs or consortiums to develop programs for judges.

The American Kennel Club has clearly recognized the need for more systematic education and preparation for judges in its new policy statement issued in the December GAZETTE. While the operational details need to be refined, the institutional recognition of the need for such judges' education is a major step in the right direction.

Which brings me to the question you ask What can exhibitors do?

If one clarifies the term "exhibitors" to mean the exhibitors and breeders who are knowledgeable and committed to the improvement of the dog show sport there is a very important action they can take: Get involved and put in the hard work it takes to design and present comprehensive and good quality programs for judges.

My hardest task in managing the Washington Area Judges Workshop has been to find good quality programs. If they were readily available, I believe I could provide a group of 15 to 20 judgtes 12 to 5 times a year to listen and learn. It takes work to think through how best to illustrate the important features of a breed. It takes courage to acknowledge that a particular dog has a fault in order to bring that dog to illustrate the fault meaningfully to a group of judges. It takes effort to reach a consensus about what the ideal specimen of a breed is sufficiently enough to get up in front of a group of judges and institutionally show and defend what is meant by the standard

Many judges are anxious for opportunities to learn more about breeds and judging. (Pragmatically, many more will be persuaded that education is a good thing if the AKC requires it for licensing for additional breeds). But judging will not improve unless knowledgeable exhibitors and breeders participate in the process to insure that the education provided is meaningful and high quality.


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