The Winning Edge! Panel Discussion With the Masters
Host Laura Reeves moderates a Friday Night Forum Panel Discussion on the topic of the “Winning Edge” with Judges Rick Gschwender and Pluis Davern and Professional Handler Bill McFadden.
It is not the judge’s job to find a “diamond in the rough,” Reeves posits. “Polish your “gem stone” for your best chance of success.”
Gschwender starts the discussion by asking the audience about their habits with the dogs they exhibit.
“How many of you train your dog? Road work him? Take video to see what the judge sees? Clean their teeth?” Gschwender queried. “I see people all the time, they’re paying $30 to enter the dog and haven’t even cleaned teeth.”
Gschwender adds, “Watch the judges. If you pay attention, you will see consistency in what they put up. You might not like it, but you will figure out what I like and come back and show that to me.”
Motivated by motion
Davern noted, in a fascinating observation, that people are *predators.* Which means “we are motivated by motion. What are judges looking at?” Davern asked rhetorically. “Motion. It catches the eye. You can *subtly* move your hand to show a pretty head, for example.
“You’re in the ring, you’re all showing the same “product.” There’s 20 boxes of cornflakes. What makes yours better than the others?”
Owner handlers have a huge advantage, Davern said. They are spending time with the dog they love.
“This is a great sport! Nobody takes a golf club to bed at night,” Davern said. “Life is not all about winning.”
“Take a deep breath and don’t rush,” McFadden advises. He also notes that in some cases, owner handlers who are long time breeders are “experts showing to novices.” Judges are life-long learners and may be new to a breed. “Present your breed the way it should be shown.”
Most importantly, McFadden said, be prepared. “Make sure your dog is in condition, physically, mentally, emotionally.”
“You’ll have successes and failures you deserve and ones you don’t. It happens to handlers too. We show 20 dogs and might win with two,” McFadden added.
For more insight from a couple of these panelists, you can listen back to:
Jason Hoke: “Just Judge the Dogs & Be Nice to People”
Second generation dog breeder Jason Hoke grew up with German Shepherd Dogs. His family acquired Great Danes in the mid ‘80s and he now owns Whippets.
“I think when I judge dogs, I’m very much a purist,” Hoke said. “I think handlers revert back to being even harder and more like a breeder judge. Because we were handlers, we know the value of showmanship, but also realize flash and dash doesn’t make a good dog.
“Just judge the dogs,” Hoke said. “That’s the best thing we can do.”
Breeder judges and handler judges
“As handlers, we have the opportunity to put our hands on so many more breeds,” Hoke said. “To be a successful handler, you have to learn what a good dog is in every breed you show. But at the core, we’re still breeders. We care about the breeds.
“I don’t care if it moves on the table, stands like a statue, comes back and does the pose heard round the world, if it’s not a good dog, just being a good show dog doesn’t make it a good dog,” Hoke said.
“Running like a maniac around the ring is ridiculous,” Hoke said. “It defeats the purpose. It takes away from the dog’s silhouette and ruins every part of the outline. Showing a dog like a generic dog is incorrect.”
Encourage new people
“We have to be accessible, open to talking to new people,” Hoke said. “Encourage new people. Be members of clubs to volunteer. We have to teach people what our breeds are all about.”
BIO, from Petcha:
“Jason M. Hoke, a resident of Madison, Wis., began his longstanding involvement in the sport of purebred dogs in the late 1970s exhibiting German Shepherd Dogs in Junior Showmanship. In 1984, he and his parents purchased two Great Danes, which became their passion. They bred Great Danes under the Jamara prefix, producing numerous champions and one of the top Great Danes in the breed’s history.
Mr. Hoke continued his involvement by apprenticing as a young adult with noted professional handlers such as Leroy Stage and Wood Wornall. He then went on to become a successful professional handler, winning Best in Shows from many groups, and presented dogs to the highest rankings in their respective breeds.”
Quote of the Day, From Great Dane Review:
What advice would you give owner handlers just getting started in the ring?
Since I started as an owner handler I think the biggest suggestion is first to study the breed. Learn the Trends and Lines. Then while you are in the ring and outside, observe all the dogs. Be objective and try to see where your dog falls in the mix. Be fair when thinking about your own dog. Know it’s strong points and it’s weaknesses as well. Always try to accentuate the positive of your dog. Listen to others for tips as well. Most people will try to give you constructive advice. Mentors in the breed are invaluable from a breeding and a handling standpoint. Practice handing and go to handling classes. I used to go to classes 2 times a week for years. It’s a great training tool for your dog as well as yourself.
Loving life and living for Cairn Terriers
I visited with Lydia Hutchinson, renowned AKC judge and breeder, owner, handler of Wolfpit Cairn Terriers, at Westminster Kennel Club earlier this year. After a day of stewarding, this enthusiastic septuagenarian was bubbling with enthusiasm about pedigrees, breeding and the sport of conformation dog shows.
Watch the video.
A lifetime in dogs
“I wasn’t quite born in to (dogs),” Hutchinson said, “But my parents got their first Cairn Terrier two months before I was born.”
Following a familiar path, Hutchinson and her family eventually wound up at a dog show. The year was 1949 when she attended her first dog show “when I was 9 years old.”
In the intervening 70 years, Wolfpit Cairns have produced 270 champions, Hutchinson said, almost exclusively homebred and largely owner handled.
Breeding, handling, judging
Hutchinson is still actively breeding and showing her Cairns. She said showing and judging dogs at the same time maintains her sensitivity to exhibitors, keeps her up to date and “keeps you young.”
Cairn Terriers are a breed noted for their adaptability, alertness and independence, Hutchinson said. She calls Cairn grooming for the show ring, “achieved naturalness.”
As she developed the family’s Wolfpit line of Cairns, Hutchinson said she utilized principles of line breeding learned from early Poodle mentor. She imported bitches from Europe looking to improve coats and fronts, but building on her program’s established sire line.
“I still hand-write pedigrees,” Hutchinson said. “I know it’s old-fashioned, but it helps solidify the pedigree in my mind.”
Hutchinson started judging in 1964 “when I was 7 months pregnant with our second child. She judges terrier, toy, herding, poodles, schnauzers. She noted that she wants to “have a relationship with a particular breed to want to judge them.”
“There is not a dog show I go to that I don’t learn something,” Hutchinson said. “Using your eyes, asking questions of knowledgeable people, you’ll learn.”
There’s something about the sport of dogs that’s very energizing, Hutchinson observed.
“I love life, I love my dogs. I’ve been married to my husband for 57 years. I’m not tired at all! I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Developing An Eye For a Dog: Recorded LIVE
San Mateo Kennel Club invited PureDogTalk to sponsor a live expert roundtable at its all-breed show in March. Exhibitors who participated were treated to a rare opportunity to interact directly with some of the most knowledgeable people in the
“Lifers” Share Their Knowledge
These folks are what we think of as “lifers” in dogs. They started young with a passion for dogs and have applied that intensity to achieving their goals as breeders, handlers and judges. Each and every one of the panelists is a life-long student, who possesses the noted “eye for a dog” we were discussing.
While each of the panelists brought their own perspective to the conversation, there was complete agreement that developing an eye for a dog entails focusing on and rewarding a dog’s virtues rather than picking at faults.
Riffing on a quote from the well-known judge of the ‘60s, Bea Godsol, whom Trotter noted was gifted with a tremendous eye for a dog, the panelists each shared their spin.
Ken Murray – “Great dogs carry their faults well,”
Pat Trotter – “An absence of faults doesn’t guarantee virtue,”
Desi Murphy – “Great dogs blind you to their faults.”
Andy Linton agreed, noting also that, “having an eye for a dog gives you responsibility in so many ways. Do I take that dog to show? Do I put that dog up? Do I breed that dog? The more you know, the more responsible you become.”
“An eye for a dog,” according to Trotter, “is when you see one that gets your attention. It’s an arresting animal because it exudes beauty and correctness. Like a work of art.”
Trotter added wryly, that “Sometimes great dogs get lost at shows where they are the right look. They’re different from the other dogs who are, shall we say, modest at best.”
Even if a person isn’t “born with it” in terms of that eye for a dog, Trotter does believe that study and learning and listening to the greats in a breed will allow someone to develop the skill.
Murphy qualifies that with an observation that some people are simply better at the skill than others.
“I mean there were certain subjects, if I went to school for 10 years on that subject I would never have been any good,” Murphy observed. “… judges are like dogs. You have excellent, very good, good, satisfactory and unsatisfactory.”
When an audience member asked how to know which judges have an “eye for a dog” and how to discern to whom they should show their “great dog that doesn’t look like the others,” Bill McFadden, speaking up from the gallery, noted we all need “an eye for a judge.”
Trotter summed up much of the advice with this observation, “I think one thing that helps breeders is to look at your own dogs with a jaded eye. Look at them with a jaded eye and see their shortcomings. And look at your competition through rose colored glasses. That will help you advance in your efforts to become a better evaluator as a breeder and exhibitor.”
Please enjoy this special and valuable conversation. What it may lack in our normal audio quality, it more than makes up for in the quality of the knowledge.
Additional Q&A coverage from this event is available ONLY to our PureDogTalk Patrons! Click the button on our website to “Be My Patron on Podbean” for more information about joining the “in” crowd.
And, making a surprise Thursday appearance, Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week from the Leading Edge Dog Show academy provides insight on dealing with stains on white dogs.
65-Year Love Affair Started with a Brittany
When Loraine Boutwell and her husband, Victor, acquired their first Brittany in 1953 they paid $35. The puppy traveled by train from Oklahoma to Topeka, Kansas in what Loraine describes as something like a wooden orange crate
Victor Boutwell, who passed away in 2003, owned a Brittany as his hunting dog when the couple began dating. Eventually they attended field trials and Loraine says she loved watching the dogs work. She fell in love with one of the field trial champions and decided they needed one of his puppies. According to Loraine, Victor said it was her idea, so she had to pay for it!
Beautiful Field Trial Brittany Goes to the Dog Show
The Boutwells were smitten with their new puppy and decided she was so beautiful they had to take her to a dog show. Thus
began their long history with the Heart of America Kennel Club and love affair with dog shows.
From breeding a champion in every group to handling all-breeds, from active all-breed club involvement to judging six groups, Loraine has been long involved in every aspect of the sport.
She said sound, correct movement remains her top priority in any of the breeds she judges.
“… when a dog comes in, I don’t want to see them stacked first,” Boutwell said. “… I’d rather see them moving. And I have them come in one at a time. And I spend quite a bit of time, I usually watch them go almost all the way around… And then I think this is a quality class or I’m going to have to work at this. I have a clue from just going around what kind of quality I have. And then I’ll think, well I have about five dogs there that are just wonderful. And one I’m going to have to move several times because the owner is new. And we can spot it right away. Because you want to evaluate that dog, even though the person may be not a wonderful handler, but you want to be able to evaluate that dog as best you can.”
Boutwell still retains the love for performance work that was sparked in a young woman’s heart so many years ago.
“I just love to see the dogs work doing what they were bred to do. That, to me, is icing on the cake if they can do that,” Boutwell said. “If they win their championship that’s perfect but they’ve got to be able to do what they were bred to do.”
Loraine and Victor Boutwell celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary the year before Victor passed away. Purebred dogs were their lives, Loraine said.
“I’ve been judging for 38 years,” Boutwell said. “And they’ve been wonderful and if I had had any idea that I would still be judging now, at my age I would say ‘oh no no. Couldn’t do it.’ Well I am. And I’m loving it. I had to cut back, but I still want to do it. I still want to be able to judge.”
I hope you enjoy this delightful conversation with one of our sport’s most enduring and charming participants. I know I did!
Jim Reynolds: Legendary Dog Man and Gentle Giant
Jim Reynolds judged his first assignment the year before I was born. Over the last 50 years, he estimates he’s had his hands on 40,000 dogs, give or take, all around the globe. That is a whole lot of knowledge wrapped up in one package. A tall man with a booming voice, Reynolds has a gentle hand with the dogs. He is, in a word, a legend.
Reynolds harks back to the days of livestock showmanship. Indeed, his first win that landed him on the front page of the newspaper, at just 10 years of age, was with a sheep. He allows as how he was hooked from that point forward.
Jim Reynolds Roots
Every year of his childhood, Reynolds’ Christmas request was simple “something alive.” His father accommodated his desire when the Canadian native was 14 years old with a Boston Terrier. A few years later, in college, Reynolds acquired his first Scottish Terrier. Many years as a breeder, owner, handler, self taught in trimming this challenging breed, gave Reynolds a tremendous background in the sport.
Top Breeder Mentors
He credits some amazing mentors in his youth. Among them, Betty Hyslop, of Cairndania Cairn Terrier fame, and Scottish Terrier breeder and all-breeds judge Adelaide Riggs. Although Riggs passed away in 1999, for perspective and continuity, Riggs’ daughter, Ellen Charles, is the owner of one of this year’s top dogs all-breeds, the Puli, GCH Cordmaker Mister Blue Sky.
Among his favorite judging assignments are BIS at Montgomery County Kennel Club, the haven of terrier lovers everywhere, and BIS at Westminster Kennel Club. He describes his 2006 winner, the Colored Bull Terrier, Rufus, Ch. Rocky Top's Sundance Kid, as having “star quality.”
The great ones,” Reynolds said, “have that presence, like actors… That dog (Rufus) was so turned on that night, at the peak of condition and performance, he told me ‘You have to pick me.’ That’s what he communicated to me.
The great dogs have great type, they have a style to them, a desire to be there,” Reynolds added. “A desire to be seen, to interact with me as a judge. I’m a fool for a dog that will interact with me. You see, for those two and a half minutes, that’s MY dog. I love that.”
Love of Dogs
It is clearly obvious, in even a brief conversation, that Reynolds does, indeed, love dogs. In addition to his years with Scotties, he has a long time love affair with Irish Wolfhounds, who grace his home. Not as show dogs or breeding dogs, but simply as companions.
Words of Wisdom from Jim Reynolds
Jim Reynold's great lament is that too many people in too many breeds are not doing their research, studying the history of the breed to know how the genotype is affecting the phenotype of the dogs they see today. His precise and intelligent review of the Scottish Terrier breed in North America, tracing the two most recent Westminster Kennel Club BIS winning bitches back, based on style, to two prepotent sires imported from England in the 1930s and ‘40s is an entire university series in a five minute monologue. Listen to our talk on the podcast for this incredible history lesson on type and style.
Reynolds attributes the many legendary dog show judges, handlers and breeders who hail from the terrier breeds to the abundance of variety within the group, the sheer dedication required to successfully compete with a broken coated terrier and, to a degree, the sharp, competitive spirit of the people who, in some ways, come to resemble their dogs.
Toplines are a huge piece of it,” Reynolds said. You have a Bedlington, a Dandie, a Scottie and an Airedale in the group ring… Now what? You’d better know what you’re looking at. Terrier people are notoriously unforgiving.”
Encouragement to Owner Handlers
He also strongly encouraged owner handlers, even in the famously professionally dominated terrier group. Do the work, he said, put in the time. Present the dog more effectively and make sure there isn’t a bad moment.
Owner handlers stand a really good chance if they just do the job,” Reynolds said. “I always wanted to do it all myself. I got no enjoyment from those wins (when I had to hire a handler).”
Today’s mentors, Reynolds noted, need to remember to give young people opportunities with an exceptional dog.
You have got to be able to be successful to want to keep doing something,” he concluded.
Biography of Jim Reynolds
|James G. Reynolds, of Nepean, Ontario, has been involved in the sport of dogs since 1956. As a teenager, he was a breeder-exhibitor of Boston Terriers but soon moved to Scottish Terriers. His Renaldo Kennel housed five Canadian Best in Show winners and produced more than thirty Canadian champions and fifteen AKC champions. He has also shown Cairn Terriers and English Cocker Spaniels, and his housedogs have included Irish Wolfhounds, a Great Dane, and an Irish Setter.
A dog show judge since 1967, Mr. Reynolds is approved for all breeds by the AKC and the Canadian Kennel Club. He has officiated at many of the biggest and most prestigious dog shows on five continents.
On the American show circuit, Mr. Reynolds has worked several Westminster assignments and is one of the few judges to twice preside over the Best in Show ring at Montgomery County. He has judged at several of America’s largest venues, including Santa Barbara, Louisville, Chicago, Detroit, Old Dominion, Houston, and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. In 2004, Mr. Reynolds was Best in Show judge at Ladies’ Kennel Association (England) show.
Mr. Reynolds is a retired superintendent of schools in a system of some 49,000 students. His wife, Marcia, is a retired secondary-school principal. They have three grown children.
AKC Judge Desi Murphy - 3rd Generation in Dogs
Desi Murphy was born into the sport of dogs. His grandfather managed kennels in Scotland, his father managed a whippet and greyhound kennel in the U.S.
While surrounded in his youth with 125 sighthounds, Desi's found a love of terriers, bully breeds and Chows.
Bullies are different...
Desi, now a legend in the sport, is licensed to judge the sporting, terrier, and toy groups.
Santa Barbara Breeder Showcase
Desi Murphy is co-chair for Breeder Showcase at Santa Barbara Kennel Club, and event in it's ninth year.
Now an in-demand event, the Breeder Showcase is extremely competitive. Dogs are often brought out of retirement for the competition or young dogs held out just for their debut.
A perk for the exhibitors is dinner and wine at the event.
Desmond Murphy - The AKC Judge
Laura Reeves asks Desi what he first looks for in the breed ring.
Evaluate breeding stock...What was the dog bred to do?
For example, the three setters work in different terrains, so their structure must meet their function. In bicycles, you have a mountain bike, road bike and beach cruiser - each are built to work in different terrains.
Some breeds are getting carried away, and showiest is not always the best. Basset Hounds in Mexico, for example, are getting too big. Remember, if a Basset Hound meets a fence on the trail, the hunter has to pick him up and place him on the other side of the fence. You can't lift an 80 lb basset.
Condition is second...
Dogs need to be fit and in good health and condition.
Movement is a test of structure
The structure standing should be seen and confirmed in a dog moving.
Advice to Exhibitors
Have the best dog. Often exhibitors ask what they can do to win with a dog... have the best dog. Ask other breeders and professionals to evaluate your dog against the breed standard. Know your standard.
Future of the Dog Sport?
As an international judge, Desi see younger exhibitors, and younger breeders in other countries than the U.S.
Russia is strong in most breeds, and Korea and China are close behind
Some handlers started showing at eight years of age, and have bred multiple litters by the time they are 21. We need youth willing to be breeders.
AKC Biography of Desmond Murphy
Desmond Murphy, of Monroe, New York, is a third-generation dog man¿his grandfather, father, and two uncles all having been handlers. Born in Scotland, he was reared among Greyhounds, Whippets, and terriers at his family's Mardormere Kennels in upstate New York.
He began handling in 1958, working under his uncle John Murphy, a distinguished handler and judge. Mr. Murphy, known as Desi, points to his handling of seven different Best in Show Chow Chows as his proudest achievement.
Mr. Murphy has been an AKC judge since 1976 and is approved to judge 93 breeds. He last judged at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in 2003.
Mr. Murphy is a member of the Tuxedo Park Kennel Club, the Santa Barbara Kennel Club, and the Saw Mill River Kennel Club, and is treasurer of the Non-Sporting Group Club of the Garden State. He considers "learning the value of preserving breed type" to be the most valuable lesson he has learned in dogs.
Allison Foley's Tip of the Week:
How to Use Bath Products Properly
Shampoos and Conditioners need to be used properly to achieve results. The best scissors, training and handling can't compensate for poor cleanliness or coat condition.
Listen to Episode # 107 How To Properly Bathe Your Dog for more on how to bathe properly.
- Use your shampoo according to directions. It's formulated for a reason so measure it out!
- Leave product on the dog long enough to work. 5 minutes for shampoo and 7-10 minutes for color or deep conditioner.
Allison's Conditioner Trick
Conditioners don't mix well with water. Use a cheap immersion blender to mix thoroughly and smooth out all the globs.
Learn more at Leading Edge Academy!