617 – Breed Type First: Mary Dukes on Judging Dogs

Breed Type First Mary Dukes on Judging Dogs

Breed Type First: Mary Dukes on Judging Dogs

Mary Dukes in her handling days heyday.

Legendary handler, rep and now judge Mary Dukes continues her conversation with host Laura Reeves. Today they talk about judging, handling and all-time favorite dogs.

“I’m a type-first girl all the way,” Dukes said, quoting the notable Anne Rogers Clark common wisdom to sort first on type and then reward the soundest of the typical dogs. “I’m forgiving of leg faults, especially on the down and back. As long as it doesn’t offend me, it’s probably good enough.

“I do firmly believe this. A good judge can see right through a poor handling job. Sometimes it’s frustrating. I watched a breed in Orlando. It wasn’t a hound breed but a breed that I’m very familiar with and it was so frustrating because it’s an owner -handled breed for the most part and the best dogs in there were being tragically handled. It was so frustrating because there was a dog in there that’s beautiful and every time the judge looked at him (the handler) wasn’t even trying to do anything with him. His legs were everywhere. You know, all she was doing was feeding him basically.

“And I thought, God, if you could just rack him up once, just rack him up once and pull him up over his front and break him over, (the judge) just needs to see it once.

“I might be the one that will turn into Frank Sabella. I mean, not in terms of swapping dogs or anything, because he did that to me a million times, but I know he got in trouble for it. But in terms of, ‘Here’s what I want you to do. Can you go from this corner to that corner on a loose lead? Can you do that?’ If they give me five steps, we’re golden.

“At the end of the day, it’s putting up the best dog.”

Pro tip: Pacing

“It’s all about throwing them off balance when you take the first step. I always like to go into them because they learn pretty quick. A lot of people they jerk (the dog) and then ‘let’s go.’ Well, then the dog starts anticipating that. I just would turn them into me and then just bump them. Just bump their shoulder as you start your down and back.”

Ch. Aroi Talk of the Blues, ‘Punky’, shown with handler Corky Vroom. Judge Anne Rogers Clark “discovered” Punky in 1975, when she made her Best of Breed from the Puppy class at the Greyhound Club of America specialty in Santa Barbara. Punky was the Top Dog of all breeds in 1976.

Mary’s fantasy best in show line up would be judged by Michelle Billings. It would feature Mick, the Kerry Blue who shows up in most judges’ all-time best line ups, but many of her other choices are more esoteric and focused on dogs she knew personally. From Iron Eyes, the Bouvier to Scarlett Ribbons, the Italian Greyhound. Listen in to hear her personal choice for Best in Show.


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