“WHEN A PRESENTER USES THE WORDS NEVER, ALWAYS, MUST, ETC... MY ATTENTION IS PIQUED.” WHY BOTHER? By Richard Miller AKC Judge #5872, Mar-Rich Chihuahuas
O ver the years since I began judg- ing (1991), I have attended a sig- nificant number of breed semi- nars often at national specialties. As one might expect, some of these have been super, others mediocre and the remainder only fulfilling an appli- cation requirement. When a present- er uses the words never, always, must, etc. my attention is piqued. Presenters of coated breeds will often say something similar to, “Get under that coat…feel the skull, feel the front legs, find where the tail is set on to the body, feel for rear angulation, etc.” Other presenters will be most em- phatic about the carriage of the tail. Remarks like, “The tail carriage must be that of a tea cup, the tail should never drop, the tail must be set on high and carried at _ o’clock.” “Feet in this breed are important” is another statement often heard. The presenter goes on to say, “Remember the early function of their breed.” I could go on and on. However, my point is never, always, must, etc. should not be used in seminar language unless you want the students that attend your semi- nar to judge your breed remembering these words. I strive very hard to go back to my introduction to a breed as I am judg- ing. I do go under the coat and feel the front legs for desired straightness; I do feel the skull of dogs with top knots to determine if there is a skull under that mound of hair; I do watch the tail carriage for what I heard was the
correct carriage (never flat on the back always carried in a loop over the back similar to a tea cup); I do watch when the dog stops. I drop an imagi- nary line down from the base of the tail to the floor to see if the rear ex- tends beyond that point. Too often when I make these assess- ments of a special in the ring I find very crooked legs under the coat; I find a fluff of hair but nomassive skull; I drop that imaginary line and find a rear decidedly under the dog; I watch the dog go around the tail carriage is flat on the back, etc. these findings cause me again to wonder if the semi- nar presenter should have used words besides always, never, must, etc. Once, I experienced a classic depar- ture from the desired when judging Toy Poodles. I brushed the coat away from the feet with my finger to see if there was a neat tight foot. The ex- hibitor said to me, “Tight feet in this variety are optional.” The seminar at PCA and my mentors told me that tight feet were the ideal in all varieties of Poodles. My point in sharing my thoughts with
you is to be very careful of the words never, always, must, etc. unless you expect us to judge your breed in this manner. Once I have the catalog for the show I often look up information about a special that was a disappoint- ment to me. I sometimes learn the seminar presenter is the breeder or owner of the special. I have to won- der why bother making never, always, must kinds of statements if these same persons are going to exhibit or pay to have a dog exhibited that de- parts so markedly from these nevers, always, musts, etc. In conclusion, I know that we don’t judge pieces of dogs, rather, we judge the dog as a whole. Finding massive skulls, straight front legs, proper tail carriage, etc. in my opinion separates a group winner from a dog that has finished its championship. The words mentioned in the con- tent of this article make me wonder. It seems to me that words like never, always, must, etc. should be used only when they refer to a DQ for a given breed. Seminar presenters: think about it.
68 • T op N otch T oys , D ecember 2018
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