A good way to gain experience by Jane Lilley

Created: 25/04/2012

A gentleman in the North of England tells me that, despite having had his name on the Old English Sheepdog A2’s judging list for the past seven years with a invitation from an Old English club to judge its championship show which arrived before his 75th birthday, he was prevented from being passed by the Kennel Club for this appointment simply because of his age on the date of the show. Now the age limit has been removed and is no longer a barrier, the club who issued the original invitation seem to have forgotten to renew it or, dare I say it, not realised that the age limit is a thing of the past!
The gentleman concerned has an unshakeable reputation for honesty and integrity besides being blessed with the most delightful sense of fun and good humour, is a pastoral group judge, awarding CCs in eight breeds over two groups, is very active, fit and highly intelligent as well as being popular with both exhibitors and dogs. In other words, he is more than capable of judging Old English at the highest level as confirmed by his inclusion on the breed’s A2 list. 
How unlucky he is to have fallen foul of the 75-year age limit before the rule was changed but, who knows, maybe he might yet be lucky enough to have an invitation to judge those Old English, for which he longs and is more than qualified to judge at the highest level.
This story also highlights the fact that however pleased you may be to have reached the goal of your name being included on a breed’s A2 – or A3 List for that matter – this does not mean that an invitation to judge that breed will be instantly forthcoming.
I have experience of this myself that, having been delighted to be included on a toy breed’s A2 list back in 2006 after being on their A3 since ‘01, I have never yet received an invitation to judge them at CC level. Since we had them in the family for many years with my mother breeding a few litters when I was a teenager, this is especially disappointing and, like the gentleman above, would love to have the opportunity to judge them at the highest level even once but, although I seem to have been approved by the breed, the opportunity has never occurred – at least so far. I live in hope!
Debra Harker, the secretary of the Gordon Setter Club, says that the German Wirehaired Pointer Club runs special classes during the lunch break at its breed shows to encourage judges on its C list by helping them progress to the B list with the additional class and dog numbers, often as many as 30 at one show.
I know of many other breed clubs who are finding that these special classes, whose results have nothing to do with those of the main show, are hugely successful. The first I went to were those of the Shar Pei Club of Great Britain which were, simply, a triumph! I know our South East and East Anglian Tibetan Spaniel Society is about to try out the idea in November having heard how well the three special award classes of the TSA Club of Scotland went last autumn, these being the first such classes to be run by any breed club in Scotland.
I was lucky enough to judge the Basenji Club of GB’s property classes just recently. First of all I thought this sounded rather difficult as I am so used to judging the whole dog and the classes were entitled: best head, best coat, best outline, best movement and best tail and set. However, when it came to the day, it proved to be utterly fascinating and, just to illustrate the point, one entrant who won two classes and was second in another was unplaced in a further class. It certainly concentrated the mind and I felt so honoured to have received this invitation as with, so many real live dogs to handle and assess, it was such a practical way to learn about the breed and, rightly or wrongly, I consider that after that experience my knowledge of the breed was more than that I could have gained from a seminar.
These type of special classes must be one of the KC’s most popular initiatives of late.
Some years ago we found that Surcare was the only washing-up liquid that my daughter, who has always been allergic to coal tar – an ingredient in most soaps – could use without coming up in a painful red itchy rash on her hands and arms. It removed grease most effectively and, because of this, we also used it to wash the kitchen floor’s Vinyl surfaces.
Having often recommended this in the column to owners of dogs with sensitive or allergic skin problems ever since, we were most upset to find that Tesco, which I had always quoted as stocking the Surcare brand, had taken it off its shelves to replace it with another eco-friendly type washing-up liquid, whose blurb announced that it cut through grease. While Julia’s hands were unaffected by this liquid, it did nothing whatsoever to remove grease and, consequently, proved as good as useless for either doing the washing-up or cleaning the kitchen floor.
The situation was desperate and, ridiculous as it may sound, trying to find an alternative source for Surcare, or indeed whether it was still obtainable, became top priority in our household!
Having complained bitterly to both our local Tesco store and head office, they finally put me on to the suppliers of Surcare, who were charming, friendly and concerned as to our plight with the assurance that it had certainly not been discontinued. Not only did they send us a good supply to keep us going but said that our local Horsham Sainsburys stocked it on a regular basis and they were right. Eureka! Luckily, in passing, we saw Surcare Laundry Liquid on the shelves, which proved so very much more effective than the brand we had always used in the past and is excellent for washing dog bedding, particularly that belonging to those with sensitive skin.
I am led to believe that Tesco is considering restocking the Surcare washing-up liquid so it is worth looking on its shelves but, since we can be sure of where it – and now its laundry liquid is obtainable – we may well be changing our allegiance to Sainsburys in future.
Just in case anyone else has found similar difficulty in buying these products recently, I have been assured that they are stocked by Asda, Waitrose, Wilkinsons, Morrisons, Savers and the Co-Op.