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It would be hard to find a Dog Judge who doesn’t love dogs or who would admit to not being delighted to influence breeds by making decisions in the show ring. It would be equally difficult to find an honest international dog show judge who didn’t like the massage to their ego that comes with being on a panel of quality judges in the USA or Europe. (Or if from the top of the world when judging Downunder).
I am one such judge who delights in International travel and judging “unknown dogs” alongside new and old friends who stand among the leading judges in the world. (Although I am often humbled by the presence of some of the great judges). Anyway, in this context I am taking the reader on a trip with me. A trip where my ego was massaged and where I had the great joy of judging not only some of the best dogs in the world BUT THE BEST DOG IN THE WORLD!
While I judge over 100 breeds and have ambition only to be a better judge of those breeds and no intent on gaining more breed licenses I write as a Terrier Man. I am first and foremost a lover of Terriers. By way of further introduction to the reader unfamiliar with me, I breed, groom and handle my own Airedale and Welsh Terriers. I have also done so with Irish Terriers and Fox Terriers. Many champions to my credit and far too many group and show wins to document. I am proudly Australian and a product of the very professional Australian Dog Judges Training Scheme which I entered in 1971. I chose to cease progression in about 1986 and now lead the Terrier Training and Examinations Program for my peak body.
On June 18th 2008 my wife, Patricia, and I set off with an around the world ticket which thanks to the Qantas Frequent Flyer Program was upgraded to Business. Long haul flights can be less that satisfactory when cramped in economy. Arriving in Las Angeles that same day we took the shuttle to Long Beach where three dog clubs had combined resources to put me into the Marriott.
The first day of three wonderful shows in the beautiful California sun was for Long Beach Kennel Club. Here it was a thrill to judge with Clay Coady the great Terrier Handler and now Judge, Betty-Anne Stenmark famous in Terriers, Richard Powell a highly credentialed Terrier man and a very experienced and respected Terrier Judge internationally, Lydia Coleman Hutchinson always on the panel of a top terrier show in the USA and The Scottie doyen from Sweden, Dan Ericsson. This was bound to be a wonderful experience as we all expected the dogs to be right up in quality with those famous judges. This all breed show and Beverly Hills the following day make a special effort to service and attract Terrier entries in support of Great Western Terrier Specialty which follows on the third day, Sunday.
I had the pleasure of judging the Working Group Specials and found several lovely winners giving first to a magnificent Bernese Mountain Dog Ch. Adesa’s Instant Acceleration and second a stunning Great Pyrenees BIS BISS CH Honor’s Promise of Glory both chosen in their breed by Dan Ericsson. Best in Show went to the Sealyham of Margie Good who went on to best all three days and then on to the World Show and the World Terrier Show in Sweden. (More about that later). I also judged Airedales, my own breed, and Cairn Terriers. Due to an absent judge I was slotted in to help out with Scotties where my breed winner was Ch Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscott who also placed well in the group each day. A stunning Scottie chosen at Great Western by Dan Ericsson as his Best of Breed. The Cairn appointment was wonderful as the entry was very large. My breed winner was Ch Winsome Fergus Macflynn. The thrill of judging Airedales in America never leaves me and this year there was a new bunch of dogs none of which I had any knowledge of. Best of breed was a wonderful dog Ch Stirling Cool Hand Luke (I have the video of this classic film beside me as I write….coincidence?
Judging Beverly Hills for the fourth time was again a real thrill. My first appointment was on a panel with Harry Spira and Graham Head back in the early 1980’s. An important learning opportunity. I then judged Kerry Blue Terriers and St Bernards. This is a very special Show not just because it conjures up pictures in the mind of Hollywood and Movie Stars but because it is one of the Grand Dog Clubs. It has presented some of the most spectacular of dog shows and Movie Stars can be seen there along with America’s best dogs….certainly best Terriers. I judged the Gundog Group (Sporting) and to my joy found that the Gordon Setter I made Best is one I had given a Group Second to a couple of years earlier when he was somewhat younger and on the other side of the country. My joy however was finding out that he was the same dog and that he is Australian sired by Esther Joseph’s Trisetter Kennel and co owned by Esther (Ch Brodruggen Black Knight). It was here I judged and made best of breed, THE Sealyham. I also judged a number of Gundogs and importantly Welsh Terriers, my other breed. My breed winner was expertly handled by Wood Wornall and I understand an import from Europe, Ch Noraly Of The New Husken. Best of winners and a beautiful bitch that pushed pretty hard for this breed was Greenfield’s Smarty Smile handled by the owner, Peter Green who judged Welsh at The World Show just a week later.
Great Western followed on Sunday. This was a great show for me. I judged about six or seven breeds all of low numbers but 140 in all and providing the opportunity to gain valuable experience with the best of America in those breeds. Glen of Imaal, Dandie Dinmont, Australian Terrier, Manchester, Norwich, Norfolk, Lakeland and Parson Russell. 36 of the later. This was a joy I cannot find in Australia and by the end I think I was getting things right.
While it takes many people to make this weekend work, two stand out in my mind. From the Cairn Terrier fraternity Jack and Karen Smith almost live this weekend for 24 months every year. Somehow they fit November shows in as well and have plenty of room for family as evidenced by Karen’s family attachment over the weekend. Jack and Karen are two of the really great dog people in this world and California Dog World would be at a great loss without them.
One cannot go to California without doing some shopping. We firmly believe the best shopping in the world is USA at a SALE!
We only stayed a day as it was off to Krakow in Poland for another adventure with dogs. We had not been to Poland before so was most excited about this opportunity. I cannot do justice in print to what I experienced in Krakow as the guest of the dog people. Let me just say the hospitality exceeded that which can be imagined. It was generous and lavish. Escorted visits to the historic old town, lunch at an historic palace on the fringe of Krakow and an escorted tour of the Salt Mines. Now how can I describe the underground mining of Rock Salt and make is sound as miraculous as indeed it is. Huge cavers artistically carved to form concert halls, cathedrals and various other chambers. Sculptures of the famous visitors over centuries and diorama showing the history of this mine that is without any doubt in my mind a wonder of the world.
This CACIB show was professionally run and very good to judge because there were many quality dogs. My co judges from all over Europe included friends from Romania, Hungary and our dear friend Di Barclay from Australia who did a superb job on Am Staffs providing me with my group second winner. The president of the Slovakian Kennel Club (2009 World Show) Stefan Stefic made a Polish Greyhound Best in Show which was a most popular choice. WE had to leave far too soon as a week longer would not have done this place justice. However, we did take the train to Warsaw before flying on to The World Show.
Stockholm next and what a joy to be back. This was my fourth or fifth judging trip to Sweden. In fact the first country in Europe to give me the opportunity to judge FCI.
Being asked to judge the World Terrier Specialties was one of the great honours of my judging life. When I saw the list of judges I felt like I was entering the Whose Who of Terriers. The treatment of judges and hospitality etc was more practical than grand but met my needs and ensured judges had the opportunity to do the best job they could. As I watched Best In Show on the day of The Terrier Club Show it was pretty obvious that they did. Some fantastic Terriers came through and wasn’t THE Sealyham just stunning. The one I judged a less than two weeks earlier, Ch EFBE’s Hidalgo At Goodspice. Such a great thrill knowing that I have judged the best dog in the world. I was delighted to see the Bedlington, Velvety Angel Eyes, that I had made Best of Breed after Richard Powell made her best bitch go on to group two in such superb company. I was not as delighted with the depth in Aussie Terriers on this trip as I had been last time in Scandinavia. However, the best is still right up there.
The Highlight for me was without doubt judging 74 Kerry Blue Terriers. I have no doubt the best in the world. I have seen the winning Kerries in USA and pictures of those in UK. Here they were a sight to behold. Any of many could be best in show. It amazed me that the same winner, Ch Kerrydom Court Hero At Rollicks, emerged again at TheWorld Show (Group second)as there were so many I might even have chosen another on another day. The Kerry Blue people came from all over the world. At the party after I met Norwegians, Russians, Hungarians, Slovakians, Americans and Irish. An amazing experience. All so friendly and language no barrier even for those restricted only to Russian or Hungarian.
The Swedish Summer Party was fun but more cosmopolitan I thought than what I imagined typically Swedish might be……except for the boiled potatoes. It is a wonder we did not end up throwing them around or playing baseball with them. There were so many!
Such a great thrill to meet such people as Dan Ericsson, Richard Powell, Roberto Alsina, Susan Keeley, Vandra Huber, Cindy Vogels, Paula Heikkinen-Lehkonen, Carola Mohrke, Kevin Brown, and many others as co judges on the most exceptional panel of Terrier people I could imagine.
Attending the World Show was also a great thrill. To be there with no judging responsibilities gave the opportunity to visit many rings and see the state of many breeds from around the world. We visited on three occasions and enjoyed sitting with fellow Aussies, Ken and Jan Campbell, Olive Black, Swede Pia Lundberg, American Virginia Latham Smith and too many others to list to witness the beautiful Sealyham go all the way.
Immediately after a good nights sleep we boarded a flight to St Petersburg. Simply to enjoy three days of touring one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Our first visit. This was wonderful but spoilt a little when my debit card was copied and my accounts accessed. We caught them in time so I am still a wealthy man. We took the train to Helsinki and flew North so I could judge at OULU.
This coastal town was magnificent. Pretty, clean and very neat. The Oulu Club conducted a CACIB Show and a National Show with a great panel of international judges including Esther Joseph and Michael Camac from Australia. (Michael had the honour of being the only Australian to judge at a World Show for some years). Old friends in judging like Denis Kuzelj, President of the Slovenian Kennel Club, and Zsolt Lokadi, Vice President of the Romanian Kennel Club, Lars Adeheimer from Sweden were prominent.
After Oulu we returned to Helsinki for a couple of days and my wife, Trish, headed home while I continued on to Portugal to fulfil judging commitments. Lisbon is another wonderful city well worth putting on your list of places to visit. I saw my first Bull Fight and unlike the Spanish version in Portugal the bull is not killed and the real spectacle is the horse and horsemanship. This was truly spectacular. I did the mandatory Hop on Hop off bus and took in all the tourist sites. After three days it was rent a car and off to the beach. The sun was too good to waste. It was still a full week before my appointment to judge a CACIB show and the National Terrier Show at SINTRA.
Sintra is a vast open book full of images of the past, framed in a fascinating, natural landscape. World Heritage listed and may well be the most beautiful town in the world. I had previously thought Saltsburg in Austria. Not far from Lisbon and in the hills it was the home to aristocracy of the centuries. Driving these hills showed homes the Beverly Hills could only dream about. These are real mansions fit for Royalty. Medieval Moorish castle, ancient cave monastery, wonderful gardens….this city had it all. It has been said that Sintra is one of those heavenly places, where the hand of God has worked to perfection, sublimely sculpturing nature, as if to surprise us as we surrender to the beauty of His work.
The show was held right in town on a lawn town square surrounded by the street with houses and shops overlooking. The best public access I have seen. Free entry of course. A hall at one end provided facilities for the judges and committee and a five course, linen tablecloth and napkin (lots of silver cutlery) lunch with wine and waiters in traditional waiter dress everywhere. This show included the Sintra Tourist Authority (Town Council) among its sponsors.
Judging with Viva Maria Soleckyj (Airedale Breeder) from Poland and Judy Averis Terriers in general from the UK was another thrill. Viva Maria did best in Show and chose a beautiful Welsh Terrier Bitch that I gave the group to the following day at the National Show. At that show she went Best in Show under Nina Karlsdotter from Sweden. This Welsh was Ch Eccos Indian Black Diamond from Norway. The terrier people in Portugal were welcoming and very friendly. It is disappointing that two breeds close to my heart, The Airedale and Smooth Fox Terrier, were of such poor quality. It would be very pleasing to help them out as the Terrier Group is a strong group and seems no reason for these two great breeds to lag. I was particularly impressed by the Westies as a breed. Good one after good one. Very strong indeed.
After two weeks in Portugal my journey continued on to the East, far East. I arrived in Thailand at the opportune time to help out the Bangkok Kennel Club who had a no show judge whom I replaced. I judged a number of specialties and group shows. The point of most interest was doing Thai Ridgebacks for the first time. Terriers consisted only of Bull Breeds. Good ones too. I am surprised that Fox Terriers or even Welsh have not been a hit there as with their size and showmanship they would do well.
The show was in a Department Store within a Mall. Air-conditioned and carpeted. A great venue. Exhibitors were much like anywhere with more than a few professional handlers. Dogs were mostly very well cared for, groomed, presented and handled. The quality in some breeds exceptional. Pomeranians, Shih Tzu, Bull Dogs and Golden Retrievers quickly come to mind. My co judges were Chang Hun-Chang from Taiwan and David Strachan from Australia. David proved to be great company for the short time in Thailand and very helpful with the Thai breeds I encountered.
I arrived home in time to try to get my dogs ready to show. A “world famous judge” one day and run of the mill exhibiter the next. What a beautiful world!
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