622 – CRUFTS! Preview with breeder, exhibitor, judge Sharon Pinkerton

CRUFTS! Preview with breeder, exhibitor, judge Sharon Pinkerton

Sharon Pinkerton with one of her 66 champion GWP.

Sharon Pinkerton, Bareve GWP, joins host Laura Reeves to preview the Crufts dog show held in Birmingham, England on March 7-10.

Pinkerton, who was raised with Greyhounds and English Cocker Spaniels, will judge Spinoni Italiano and the Breeders Competition finals at the show.

“Originally launched on 15 January 2009, the prestigious breeders’ competition, sponsored by Agria Pet Insurance, gives breeders the opportunity to showcase their skills and knowledge as a breeder,” according to the Crufts website. “Each year a number of qualifying heats take place at general and group championship shows. Teams compete to gain points by being placed between 1st – 4th.

The top 40 teams will qualify for the final at Crufts, of which two positions will be for the breeders’ competition winners from the European and world dog shows.”

“I’ve judged German Wirehaired Pointers (at Crufts) a long time ago. And I’ve also judged Hungarian Wirehaired Vizslas. But this has been a little while since I’ve been asked to judge at Crufts. And certainly the first time I’ve been asked to do anything like the breeders (competition).

“It is still quite a new competition. I’m probably the first true exhibitor that’s been asked to judge it. The last four years have been top all-rounders where they’ve had breeding experience but they are more considered now to be an all-round judging person as such rather than still a breeder exhibitor. So I feel quite special really to be at that level.

“I think that’s what I’m looking forward to most is actually doing that because I know it’s such an achievement to be asked. When I first got the email invite and I opened it and looked and I just thought no this is a mistake people like me we don’t get invited for these sort of things. I dutifully sent it back thinking it would just come back saying ‘I’m really, really sorry Sharon, but it was wrong.’ But it came back as yes, you’re now confirmed.”

Sharon decided German Wirehaired Pointers were the breed for her and acquired one from the second litter ever born in the UK. Since the mid ‘70s she has produced 66 champions, of which 12 are full champions, where the dogs have proven their ability in the field as well as the show ring.

“Dogs that have a job to do are considered to be show champions until they’ve actually been out in the field to prove their gun dog worthiness,” Pinkerton said, “plus of course the Border Collie which is the only herding breed that are show champions until they actually go and prove their ability to herd.

Champion Bareve Blaauboskom JW in the field.

“So all the gun dogs, no matter what breed they are, are all show champions unless you then go out into the field and prove that they are capable of doing the job that they were bred to do. And then we can proudly knock off the show bit and then they become full champions.

Listen in to the entire interview for more details and insights about the famous Crufts dog show.


609 – Critiques, Communication and Common Sense in Dog Shows

Critiques, Communication and Common Sense in Dog Shows

Steve Dainard judging Spinoni back in the day, when Laura was still showing dogs.

Canadian Kennel Club judge Steve Dainard is back with host Laura Reeves for part two of a probing and thoughtful conversation about critiques, communication and common sense in dog shows.

“So we know that every rule and regulation that came in probably had a foundation in someone doing something wrong,” Dainard notes. “Judges need to keep their interactions in the ring, not be too conversational in nature. Well, then all of a sudden you’re going to get a whole population of judges who take us to the nth degree, and they’re even afraid to have any type of communication, apart from instructions to the exhibitor.

“So, I think there’s a fine line between having this full on getting caught up in the ring, but also having, an opportunity to be able to share meaningful dialogue. And I think that we can do that. I think that maybe we’re just not trained really well to do that. So maybe we need to have a discussion about what does that look like.

“I get it, writing written critiques or an oral critique or whatever can be scary for many people. People don’t like change, and whether it’s not because you don’t have the goods or you don’t know whatever, maybe that’s what the fear is based in. But I think culturally, you just hit the nail on the head, it’s not encouraged to have that dialogue, that communication, that interaction. And what it does, it creates silos within our sport. And this is not what we need. We need to be able to have a mechanism in place so that it’s okay to have a conversation.

“And that conversation doesn’t need to be precipitated by the fact that I’m pissed off because Laura didn’t put me up and I’m going to take a run at her after judging. And I got the rep coming with me because she crossed a line.

“Having a written critique foundation in your toolkit as the basis for how you’re trained to evaluate dogs creates a much easier conversation when that’s the way you’re programmed and how you’re picking your winners.

“I think that the fear of error is like, (exhibitors are) judging me, right? So I can see why people would be afraid of that until you get really good at it. And you have the conviction to be able to say, this is my process. I think it could be a little bit of an overwhelming concept, but the only way we rip that bandaid off is by diving in and starting to practice it.”

Listen to the full episode for insights on the role of judges in promoting responsible dog breeding and ownership and much more.

Episode 500!!! Celebration of Pure Dog Talk!

Episode 500!!! Celebration of Pure Dog Talk!

Welcome to Pure Dog Talk! I am your host Laura Reeves…..

These words hit the airwaves for the first time almost exactly five years ago … Five HUNDRED times later, I still have to think about my tone and cadence and inflection. Maybe just a bit less these days lol… Sort of like you guys learning to show your dog, I am entirely self-taught how to do this job and I am eternally grateful that you all have joined me in what has been a pretty incredible journey.

Today’s episode is a pure cork popping, champagne swilling celebration of our tribe. YOU guys shared some amazing stories about how this show has impacted your life in dogs. I dug around and pulled out some of MY favorite guests and interview moments.

Pure Dog Talk is not and never has been *static.* It lives and grows, often faster than I can keep up! As we move forward in the coming years, there will be changes, of course. For example, I’ll once again be podcasting *exclusively* on Pure Dog Talk. I’ve stepped waaaay outside my comfort zone and will be offering more Facebook Live and Webinar opportunities here at Pure Dog Talk (like the K9 First Aid 911 series with Marty Greer that is available on the website now) as well as moving back to more of the pre-pandemic live seminars and panel discussions over the course of the coming year.

But mostly, I wanted to say thank you. To ALL of you. My listeners, my guests, my patrons, my sponsors, my supporters and even the best compliment of all, my competitors. You have all made me better at this role than I could have ever dreamed of being. My goal of offering meaningful education, FOR FREE, to as many people in our sport as I could possibly reach has absolutely come to pass.

Thank you for taking me with you on your drives, your workouts, even your lawn mower… I am deeply honored to keep you company while you bathe, trim, condition and clean up after your dogs. Thank you for caring, so very much, about your dogs, your breeding programs and the sport of purebred dogs. Without your single-minded dedication, they would all cease to exist.

Following are just a few of the hundreds of Stories of impact from our listeners:

Diane Davis

I first heard about Pure Dog Talk when something came across FaceBook about a handler friend of mine being interviewed about the Professional Handlers Association and how to hire a professional handler to show your dog.  I listened to the episode and thought it was well done, so I decided to try listening to a few more.  I was pleased to discover that these were also well done and informative.  I have about a forty-minute commute to work so I began to listen while driving back and forth.  It wasn’t long before I got caught up on the episodes that I thought would be interesting.  But as I started to go through some of the others, what I discovered was that I learned something from every episode.  I began to look forward to the new episodes coming out and would listen to them several times so I didn’t miss anything.

Pure Dog Talk has become a big part of my life.  I love learning about other breeds.  The episode about the Bracco Italiano brought back a memory of the Bracco Axel floating around the ring to win the World Challenge Cup at Eukanuba the year I was there.  I loved hearing about judges.  As an owner-handler I always felt that judges were kind of unapproachable, but the interviews helped me to see that they were people too. Veterinary Voice with Dr. Marty Greer was invaluable.  The episode on pyometra gave me the tools to advocate for my girl with my vet when she developed pyometra on her first heat cycle.  We were able to medically manage her condition and she has since had two litters.  And speaking of puppies, Pure Dog Talk has taught me a lot about breeding, whelping and raising puppies. I hadn’t bred a litter in nearly seven years because my last litter had been so hard, but with new knowledge, and new resources I have bred and raised two litters this year.

Then 2020 happened.  Covid19 happened.  Dog shows disappeared from the Pacific Northwest for over six months.  Uncertainty about health, finances, family, friends was ever present in everyone’s life.  But through it all, the Pure Dog Talk podcast was one of the few things that was stable.  The Patrons “After Dark” was created so once a month we could meet via Zoom and talk about dogs, have an adult beverage and feel somewhat normal.  When we had the first retreat in Montana in September 2020, we realized we had created a wonderful community of dog people and a “safe space” for everyone involved.  The virtual dog shows were fun and a way to participate in some small way, a dog show. I know that I speak for other as well when I say these activities helped keep me sane during that crazy year.

As everyone in dogs knows, things are never easy. There are disappointments and body blows.  There are emergencies, vet bills, money issues and just plain exhaustion.  But the Pure Dog Talk podcast seems to have uncanny timing and usually is talking about a subject that I need to hear about when I need to hear it.  And when I look into the eyes of my dogs, it is all worth it.  I wouldn’t trade them or my life with them for anything. When you know better, you do better. Thanks Pure Dog Talk for everything you’ve given me and my dogs.

I’m Tracey Rives, Montgomery, AL, a breeder/owner/handler of Havanese dogs..  I just recently discovered your podcast “Pure Dog Talk “.  Your recent podcast with Amanda Kelly, Parts 1 and 2, sparked a fire in me as an owner handler and my journey for showing dogs.   It was so inspirational for me.  As an owner handler I crave information in every way and your podcast is priceless in supplying great unbiased information.  My goal is to encourage breeders/owners to learn to handle their own dogs.  I’m afraid it’s becoming a lost art.  Showing my bred-by dogs to their championship is one of the top five most gratifying things I’ve done.

MY STORY:  I took my bred-by boy, Manny, (18 months old, not even a grand yet) to our Havanese National Specialty in Orlando, FL, 2016 with my buddies “Southern Magnolia Kennel Club”.   Our second National.  Totally no expectations whatsoever – zero, zip, nada, nothing. Really the goal was to rub shoulders with the best of the best and learn, learn, learn – not to mention drink wine and dine and fellowship with my favorite peeps.  I found myself in the ring with 36 or so of the best Havanese dogs (not including bitches) in the country.  Made the first cut. Wow!!  Ok.  Went back in.  Made the second cut.  Holy shit!  Ok.  We won the whole damn thing!!! That did not just happen.  My exact words to my husband when I called him immediately after the win when apparently I should have been first in line getting our win photo.  Who knew??  LOL!!  By default, I opted to be the last in the photo line. Just had too many friends to hug.  It’s still surreal to this day.

So the reason I’m submitting this is looking back over the last several years as a “hobby” breeder/owner/handler of Havanese, it’s really about learning to run the race gracefully.  Win or lose, for me it’s about sharing my passion with my people.  Because seriously, at the end of the day, without the sweet memories, it would be just another dog show.

Kayley Paylor:

I started in conformation at the request of my boy’s breeder. An Azawakh is far from the easiest dog to start with, sighthounds with guarding instincts aren’t exactly the easiest dog to convince to stand for exam. We took handling classes, debuted in the ring before the breed had been fully AKC recognized, and he took Best in Miscellaneous. We showed again a few weekends later and my boy had suddenly hit adolescence, his guarding instincts were developing, and he wanted nothing to do with the judge. We muddled along for the next two years with varying degrees of success.

During that time I have the distinct memory of having drinks with a good friend who had started showing the same weekend I had. We were taking about show dogs and she recommended a podcast called Pure Dog Talk that she’d discovered. I wasn’t really the podcast type but I decided to give it a shot. I started putting it on on the commute to work and driving to and from shows and trials.

The very first episodes I listened to were the three part Bill Shelton episodes on building a family of dogs. In the intervening time since I’d brought home my first show and performance dog, I’d added a foundation bitch who I had chosen because her pedigree complemented my boys, she had beautiful drive and focus, and her structure at 8 weeks was again complimentary to my dog’s. Listening to Bill Shelton talk about developing two bitch lines that you can work between solidified the idea I’d had bouncing around in the back of my brain of adding a second bitch. Four months later I lucked into adding a perfect second bitch from completely different lines but complimentary to my male on different ways.

Since then Pure Dog Talk has been integrally woven into my life. I travel often both for my work as a dog trainer and for shows and performance events. Over the past two years I’ve driven more miles than I care to count. Pure Dog Talk was there for all of it. I’ve listened to Dr. Marty Greer give whelping advice on my way to Open Field Coursing, I’ve listened to experts like Dr. Gayle Watkins, Bill Shelton, Dr. Teresa Nesbitt, and so many more give advice and valuable insight on a dizzying array of topics on my way to everything from Royal Canin to UKC Premier to LGRA straight racing, lure coursing, and agility trials. And through it all the one constant: Laura Reeves’ dulcet voice guiding us through preconceptions, prejudices, and recording this information for the history books.

I grew up playing team sports and having a strong community is both revitalizing to me and so useful as a sounding board. That is what Laura has built with Pure Dog Talk: a community, a tribe as she often calls it.

I can go to the patrons group with any questions and not be judged for them. I have always struggled with confidence handling my dogs in the show ring. I don’t normally have stage fright at performance events but I would just get into the show ring and shake, which of course affected my dogs. But after the mock show at last summer’s retreat where my COVID Azawakh puppy showed very well, I left the retreat finally confident that I was supporting my dogs and presenting them to the absolute best of my ability. And when my car failed at the patrons get together this March, Laura graciously made room for my dogs so they didn’t have to sit in the cold car while I waited for a tow truck. That is what true community is about. That is how we keep people new to our sport around.

In many ways Pure Dog has been an instrumental resource for me over the last couple of years, not just for the handling tips but also the whelping information as I get ready to whelp my first litter. Pure Dog Talk is an invaluable resource for the purebred dog community and I’m eternally grateful to Laura for undertaking this podcast and for other listeners and patrons for supporting it and helping it become the resource it is today.

Christina Rozema

I wanted to give you another thank you update. Your podcast supported me showing my bull terrier bitch Freyja and with the wackiness of 2020 she became the top Bull Terrier in Canada. Sure there were ‘t many shows but there weren’t many for everybody equally. Then as I binge listened time-out breeding podcasts with Dr Greer and with Avidog, I planned her breeding with frozen semen imported from Poland to an amazingly successful litter of 11 who are now 3 weeks old.

You helped me build my courage, keep up my spirits, and feel confident enough to go ahead with her breeding.

Thank you thank you thank you. You have made such a difference in my life and the life of my dogs. I just wanted you to know.

Feedback from you guys gives me courage when things are tough to keep going. I am so grateful for our tribe.

So now, just a few comments from some of MY favorite guests and conversations over the last five years….


There are so many more moments, episodes and conversations to be had. Watch this space! The next five years are guaranteed to be chockablock with knowledge shared.

427 – The Road to Center Stage

Road to Center Stage: Panel Discussion on the Process to Become a Judge

Throwback to a Friday Night Forum when we could all go to dog shows. Bryan Martin reviews the judging application process that was put in place most recently. Martin gives a thorough overview of the various systems that preceded the current updates. (Note: This event was held prior to 2020 and the temporary changes/revisions applied to this process due to the Pandemic).

Anyone beginning the judging process or moving forward will find this useful. Exhibitors will be able to understand the requirements for the judges in the center of the ring.

AKC judges Brian Meyer and Sylvie McGee share their experiences, what drives them to judge, what they enjoy and what frustrates them. This valuable input helps exhibitors understand that the judge in the ring was not hatched from an egg.

Meyer says that finding the dog nobody else has found is part of his joy in judging. “Maybe it’s a puppy dog, maybe it’s a puppy bitch. I don’t care. I really don’t care what class it came from. It could be a novice person that doesn’t really have any idea what they’re doing. You’re not judging their ability. You’re judging what the dog is supposed to look like according to the standard.”

His frustration? “You use the same pattern all day long. And your last breed of the day. Your last class of the day, the person looks at you and goes ‘did you want me to make a triangle?’ when you been going down and back all day. I mean, you have to watch what a person is doing before you walk into the ring to prepare yourself.”

McGee notes her enjoyment of assisting new handlers and her frustration at dirty dogs.

“I love the dogs,” McGee said. “I love everything about judging really. I love it when novice people come to the ring … if I could give him some encouragement or maybe say ‘you know let’s move that dog one more time maybe you could loosen up that lead a little bit.’ That’s a gift to them and it helps me to see the dog better.”

“I think if you talk to any judge, dirty dogs (are a frustration),” McGee said. “So imagine you’re the judge, standing in the middle of the ring, everyone is watching you, and you’re thinking to yourself ‘do I dare, now that I’m going over this dog who is filthy, go over and visibly use a handiwipe or use hand sanitizer before I touch this next exhibit because I don’t want to transfer whatever I just picked up on my hands. Please bathe your dogs.”

Meyer adds one important note of emphasis.

“You, as exhibitors, are not necessarily the most compassionate people with new people. Yeah, I’m going to put some of that on you people because you’re the ones that should be helping these new people that are coming in …”

To watch the video from this event, click here.