Ring feel

It’s funny but when each judge approaches Kunga in the ring for the first time, I can tell whether they’re interested in him or not.  Does this happen to other people?

I think a good judge will give every dog the chance to impress her.  She’ll take the time to do an actual examination rather than a cursory look, will really watch the movement, will give a second look to every dog.  But the reality is that most judges seem to make up their minds almost instantly when they take their first look at the line-up.  Is this expertise or prejudice?  I must say I resent it when I’ve paid my money and the judge can’t be bothered actually to examine my dog.  I’ve been in the ring when the judge glanced at us briefly, stood back when I opened the mouth so I doubt whether they really saw the bite, and did no more than check Kunga’s hind end to be sure he’s a boy.  OK, he may not be to your taste, but for heaven’s sake this is unfair to just pass over any dog like this.  It’s disheartening to have to stand through the rest of the class when you can feel the disinterested vibe.

In many countries the judge must offer a brief written evaluation of every dog.  Here in the US that only happens in the IABCA (“international”) shows.  I kind of like the idea that the judge must give at least some thought to why she likes or dislikes your dog, and justify it in writing.  (Wonder how many times “too blue” or “too natural-eared” would show up…)

Then there are the times when you can feel the attention and concentration of the judge radiate toward your dog.  This is exciting in a visceral way, and gets both Kunga and I wound up to peak performance.  Both of us can tell there’s some real interest from the judge, and it makes the rest of the class exciting to participate in.

Maybe I have to take a lesson from Mari Lynn Davisson (the well-known Dane handler), who told me she concentrates on one thought in the ring, like a mantra: “look at THIS dog!  Isn’t s/he something!”

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