Talk about a fun time! Last weekend I had the opportunity to judge the herding group at the puppy match at the Amana Ia dog show. What a fun time that was.
Even though this was “just a match” I spent the weeks preceding the event reading up on all the herding group breed standards. I read them, I re-read them and for the breeds I expected to see I went to the breed club sites and also reviewed those. I was very glad I did, because in all honesty judging is a hard job. Looking at all those beautiful puppies and mentally comparing them to the standards and not to each other is requires quite a bit of brain power and organization. I tried very hard to consider the virtues of each dog, comparing to the standard, rather than focusing on the imperfections. Comparing a 4 month old baby to a breed standard is a little different than comparing a 11 month old baby, yet judging is about choosing the best representative of the breed on that day, not the potential. By looking at the virtues of the dog at that moment I could focus on those aspects rather than the missing pieces. By that I mean, a 4 month old pup will not have the development or maturity, but it can still have balance, lovely movement, correct angles. By focusing on the qualities that are present I tried to find the pups that exuded quality and balance and beauty.
My group winner was a cattle dog pup, who went on and won best in match. I loved the balance I saw in this pup, the beautiful head and expression, when it wasn’t puppy bouncing its movement was effortless, smooth and flowing. A lovely picture when still, and eye catching when moving. I simply could not take my eye off this puppy.
A few of the puppies made me giggle out loud, and they all had me smiling. It’s given me a new respect for the judges who do this on a weekly basis. And quite surprising to me, I would really like to do this again someday.
Speaking of judging, a short while back I became a provisional Rally and Agility Judge for UKC. Last week I became a WCRL Rally judge also. For UKC I so still need to complete some apprentice assignments, so I expect that this winter I will start looking for those opportunities. As most of you may know while I greatly enjoy the conformation ring, the performance events are my true loves. I am looking forward to the chance to experience these events in a new way as well.