Dogs In Review Magazine October 2016 - Page 51

AS: Do you actively take part in recruiting and educating newcomers? What are your “teaching” methods? EE: I am worried about the lack of new, young breeders and judges coming up in our sport and try to do my best to encourage the up-and-coming generation. I am happy to be an active mentor for a couple of promising young talents in the sport and find that inspirational. We meet up, talk and discuss quite frequently. I also lecture at seminars on breed standards, breed history, judging, breeding and genetics, and sometimes on veterinary matters, as I am a vet by education. My teaching method is to try to stimulate people to think for themselves, giving them pause for thought rather than just providing them with “my” answers. Espen judging Best in Show at the 2014 Leeds Championship Show in the UK. He chose the Shetland Sheepdog Edglonian Singing the Blues for BIS. were much more eager to give feedback and to discuss dogs than they are today. During my first appointments, I had some well-respected judges ringside watching me, afterward offering me comments and advice. I found this very helpful and useful. I love to discuss dogs, and there are fortunately still some colleagues who will enjoy a good discussion. The aim should, however, not necessarily be to agree. Agreeing is fine, but disagreeing is probably even more fruitful when it comes to learning. AS: What do you think was the key to your becoming one of the world’s most popular and acknowledged judges? EE: Those are your words, not mine. But I have been very privileged as a judge, having officiated at so many of the important shows around the world. Luck has something to do with it, but as another downhill legend, Ingemar Stenmark, said, “The more I trained, the luckier I got.” I got a lot of important assignments early on in my judging career. This was partly luck, partly that I already had a reputation as a breeder and partly that I was the son of a famous mother. I judged at shows like Windsor in England, the American Whippet Club specialty in Pennsylvania and Santa Barbara in California, while I was still a youngster. Those were my “sink or swim” appointments. If I had screwed up, my career as a judge would have ended almost before it began. But I did not screw up, and instead many doors were opened. I take judging very seriously. I spend a lot of time and energy on it, and I have an ambition to do it well. And I never play any games, knowing that integrity is the most precious capital of any judge. AS: Which past show would you love to relive, and why? EE: The Afghan Hound Club of America National Specialty, held in conjunction with the Afghan Hound World Congress in San Diego 1995 was and still remains the most memorable dog show I have been to, and I would love to relive it. Everything was just fabulous: the show site and ring, the quality of the best dogs sadly never to be seen again, the judging of the BOB judge, the enthusiasm. It was just magical. 48 AS: During your 50-plus years in the canine world, what has changed the most? EE: Wow, what has not changed? And most of it for the better, too! The access to information is enormous compared to yesteryear. The possibilities for traveling and communicating have vastly improved. Globalization has given us potential access to bloodlines, stud dogs and semen that was impossible 50 years ago. The health testing that we can do on our dogs today means that we can combat diseases much more effectively than before. On the downside, [there is] the disappearance of the big kennels and the true strains within the breeds, probably never to be seen again. AS: Finally, what wisdom that you have gained over your more than five decades in the sport would you like to share with us? EE: The more you invest in something, the more you will get back. Think positively. Focus on what you can positively achieve and contribute. Do the very best you can in any situation and in any position. Next month: Part II of this interview with Espen Engh, focusing on breeding. DIR Espen Engh’s Essential Reading List • After Bar Sinister, Raymond Oppenheimer • McGuffin & Co, Raymond Oppenheimer • Advanced Labrador Breeding, Mary Roslin William • The Inheritance of Coat Color in Dogs, Clarence Little • Born to Win, Breed to Succeed, Patricia Craige Trotter • Hutchinson’s Dog Encyclopedia • Canine Terminology, Harold R. Spira • The early fundamental works by Leighton and de Bylandt