Although I’ve been honored to talk with some pretty accomplished expert handlers (both amateur and professional), I’ve never met anyone in the show world who claims to know EVERYTHING. We can all learn more about our dogs, handling, and judging. Some things you learn from mentors, some things through experience, and some things you can even learn from books.
There are a couple of books and a DVD that I’ve found invaluable as I keep studying. The first, I recommend to everyone: Robert Cole’s “An Eye for a Dog.” This guy is unequaled in teaching and illustrating structure and movement and in explaining both. I was pretty intimidated when I first picked this up, but became fascinated by all the little tests the author sets for the reader with his line drawings. Which of those 5 dogs has the most serious faults for its breed? Which has the best topline, the best head, the best gait? This is a book I return to again and again.
Chris Walkowicz is a show judge who has written about her training and experiences in “Dog Show Judging–the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” There aren’t many judges who talk much about their training and tell stories about the show ring, so I found this an interesting look into the judges’ world. She soft-pedals some controversies and leaves a lot out, but this is still a pretty interesting book.
Finally is Rachel Page Elliot’s DVD, “Dogsteps–What to Look for in a Dog.” This is from a grand old lady of the breeding/showing world, and it’s worth it just to hear her talk about her career and her dogs. But what’s even better is that she really gives a sense of how to look at gaiting dogs, and how to assess structural issues that will effect gait. The film is old, but the lessons are timeless.
(Thank you to Nicholas DeSciose for the loan of his glasses and the terrific picture of my scholarly boy Kunga, above.)