On the Saturday Freddy Sten Christensen, who had been judging various breeds, asked if he could be my student judge for Newfoundlands on the Sunday as there was a good number of the breed entered. I was intrigued to hear that Freddy started his judging career with German Shepherd Dogs and had been licensed by the SV – the mighty German parent club – but when he expressed an interest in judging other breeds they withdrew his licence as German Shepherd Dog judges need to be “focussed”! The more I hear about the SV and the Sieger show, the more questionable this powerful organisation seems to appear.
I do admire the Scandinavian student judging system and find it a most practical way of giving would-be judges first hand opportunities to learn from those with experience. Whenever I have a student judge I like to have 15 minutes with them beforehand discussing the breed, trying to find out if the student understands what points are essential and what can be forgiven. Also I like to acquaint students with what Mrs Clark would describe as the present ‘drags’ of the breed, in the case of the Newfoundland these being untypical heads with too much lip, large loose eyes, large ears and too much stop (often made even more offensive by the current obsession with back combing the hair on the skull and pushing it forward to create a hideous Mohican/cockatoo appearance. Also many Newfoundlands today have over-angulated rears and incorrect coats.
When it comes to the practical side, I like to have the student in the centre of the ring at the start of each class, and ask them for their first impression, if anything takes their eye and if anything surprises or disappoints when the dogs are sent around for the first time. They then have the opportunity to go over the dogs, watch them move, and fill in their gradings on a form without knowing what my gradings would be. Freddy passed with flying colours.
Interestingly the dog of the day was the first dog we had in the ring, a rising 13 months black male who excelled in type. I loathe the use of the word ‘old fashioned’ as it usually merely means ‘correct and unexaggerated’ but in this instance it was applicable as Lasydog’s Beast of Cognac Xo had the type of Newfoundland head I grew up with, a fantastic ribcage and body for his age, correct angles, a wonderful coat and proper Newfoundland movement. Not surprisingly he ended up winning BOB.
Under FCI rules St Bernards are shown as two separate breeds divided by coat and both produced decent BOB winners. The Smooth was a male, Ch Toffe Loffe’s Urkan, sound and well balanced with good leg length and a decent head. The Long was a bitch, Ch St Zamba’s Zoom in On Zilence, who again was correctly proportioned, moved soundly and had a pleasing, unexaggerated headpiece.
I was grateful for the many lessons I have had on Kelpies when in Australia and was happy to award BOB to the bitch, Ch Redqliff’s Gaia Go Steady, typical, sound and well balanced.
I had been given the White Swiss Shepherd puppies and was very impressed with a six months male who had excellent gait and a very promising outline.
My Japanese Spitz BOB was a young bitch full of quality, whose young handler seemed overwhelmed at the win. Creardon’s Lovely Romance was beautifully balanced with a typical head and expression and was in gleaming condition.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback entry was strong but it was a young male who stood away for me, Ridgedogs In Love With Elvis. He is all male, had a typical head, excellent conformation and moved out with such freedom. He still needs to mature in body but for me he was an easy winner and later he went on to win the group.
There were some really excellent Poodles entered and I began with Toys where I was blown away by a 17 months Silver male, Escada Hug Me, who was not just exquisite for a Silver but for a Poodle. So often Silvers tend to have rather heavy backskulls and large, round eyes but this youngster had a beautifully refined head, a classic outline and an unusually good coat for both texture and colour. He is an extrovert showman and as sound as they come. He won BOB over a bitch I had done well for earlier in the year and was delighted when I learnt after getting home that Lee Cox had also admired this same Silver when he judged recently, also awarding him the certificate.
The Dwarfs were strong in quality and although I realised I had the previous day’s BIS winner in the same class, I preferred another black male as I found Ch Fidel Eyeliner to be shorter-coupled and with less exaggerated hind action.
My Miniature BOB was a black bitch, Ch Voulez Vous Thelma, so classy and stylish with a lovely head and great coat. In Standards I was rather perplexed to have a very handsome four-year-old male in the open class as he obviously wasn’t titled. Despite strong competition I still made him BOB and was astounded to hear that Schpindel Hot Chili had attended his very first show just the day before! BOS went to a very raw young bitch who turned out to be his younger full sister. Schpindel Ballroom Crush would have beaten her brother but she still needs to body up, as she surely will, but she has star quality in spades … I loved her.
Still having the thrill of judging all groups and BIS at Midland Counties fresh in my mind, I reminded myself of what a privilege this is as I saw several dogs I would happily have made BIS fail to win their groups. Such is life.
In the big ring I had judged combined groups 7 and 8, puppies then adults, and both were won by Portuguese Water Dogs. From the BIS line-up I finally decided that the Afghan Hound bitch, Ch Gold’n Copper Peace ‘n Harmony, should win. She had so many breed characteristics and moved like her breed should. BIS2 was the Portuguese Water Dog, BIS3 the young Ridgeback and BIS4 a Pomeranian.
That evening there were just Olga, Monika and Spela left to dine with and we had a very interesting evening of serious dog talk which made a pleasant change. Also I was amazed to hear of Spela’s other interest as she and her husband are involved with falconry in a big way and they often visit a fellow falconer who lives in Bargoed, just two miles away from my home. It really is a small world.