Dogs In Review Magazine October 2016 - Page 33

FROM MY PERSPECTIVE JASON HOKE Patience, Grasshopper J udges are experts and well studied in any breed they choose to evaluate. From the moment they walk in the ring for the first time, they have a full and complete grasp of all minutia related to the breed. The standards are so ingrained in their minds that they could recall them wordfor-word just as children do when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. If you were to talk to them after their assignment, they would remember every minute detail of every dog shown to them, down to the color of the leash. They miss nothing in the ring, catching every virtue and flaw, balancing them perfectly in their minds to come to a final decision that makes every exhibitor and spectator happy beyond words. If any judge believes this describes them perfectly, then please introduce yourself to the world because you are truly one of a kind! Mentors. Additional help can be sought though mentorship by experts in the breed. They are people whose blood, sweat and many tears have produced the dogs that will be entering our rings. These breeders are perhaps the single most under-utilized tool for judges. They have seen the changes in the breed, the trends, fads, pitfalls and strengths. To not take advantage of this is a missed opportunity, whether the judge is just beginning or well into a long-term judging career. Practice Makes Better but Not Perfect There are many other venues in which judges can begin to understand a breed, but I believe the ultimate teaching tool is the judging itself. Judges can have all the book knowledge in the world, but if they do not develop an eye and hone their skills, they will fail. Every experience teaches something. I am not referring to the ribbon distribution we are sometimes forced into but to the entries that contain real substance. Large classHow Judges Continue to Learn es help refine instincts for what is correct. Through repetition It takes a lifetime to further one’s knowledge in a single breed, and strengthening the mind, judges learn the priorities of type let alone multiple breeds that a Group or all-breed judge may in a breed. not even keep at home. Let us take a Judges will get many decisions right judge’s original breed out of the equaand will also get many decisions wrong. tion, as that is a breed to which they Judging is a game Mistakes on ring procedure and actual probably have dedicated their life’s pasplacements can and will be made. But it sion. When a judge chooses to advance of patience. It is is what judges take from their mistakes beyond that initial breed, this is where a task no one will that makes them better each time they the struggle begins. ever truly master. walk in the ring. Our best judges always Seminars. Where do judges start to strive to improve and learn more. learn about new breeds for which they Exhibitors place too much emphasis seek to be approved? The first and seemon the ribbons awarded and not on the overall job the judge ingly obvious answer is seminars. After all, they are worth the did. Think about the total day in question. Did one class or most points on judges approval applications. Judges flock to placement go awry, or was the entire assignment a debacle? these seminars, as they are certainly a means to an end. Judges can simply have an off day, just like everyone else. So what does a seminar offer? Generally, it gives a brief This does not excuse poor judging, but we all have bad days history of the breed and a walk-through of salient breed when our work is done poorly simply because we’re human. characteristics with emphasis given to certain points by the This should be kept in mind by everyone, exhibitors and judgpresenter. These seminars last approximately an hour and es alike. Condemnation of one’s ability should never come 30 minutes. They are often followed by a hands-on session quickly or without considering the scope of a career. with anywhere from four to six dogs, but not always. The Judging is a game of patience. It is a task no one will ever seminar attendees place the dogs with a brief critique, and truly master. Every experience leads to another question, and maybe some minimal discussion of the dogs is allowed. And every answer poses another question. It takes years of hard then it’s off to the next seminar… work before serious judges will come close to the ultimate Published information. Another possibility is researching goal of perfection in the craft. If you are an aspiring judge, a breed on the internet and finding all relevant articles about remember that some days you will achieve near perfection the breed. Many of these contain valuable information, as they and other days you will end up back at the beginning. But were written by paragons of the breed. Parent clubs also in have patience and perseverance in all things, and you will some cases publish information on their websites where a eventually have a quality judge standing before you in the mirprospective judge can glean further details. Also contained ror, one who improves with each day in the ring and always on these webpages are the titles of breed books, which are strives to do better on the next. DIR some of the greatest treasures to be found. 30