DISTRACTED AKC JUDGES


Today, I feel like ranting and raving about the AKC in general. Now that I have caught up with everything and am ready for Christmas I can concentrate on something that I truly love and that something is dogs. In 1984 I obtained my first pedigree dog (or he obtained me) by me feeling sorry for him and stealing him from the neighbor. I thought he was a large Yorkshire Terrier and kept waiting for his hair to grow but it never did. I then found out he was an Australian Terrier (who ever heard of an Australian Terrier?) while looking through a dog book and finding a picture of Robert and J.F. Kennedy playing with one when they were children. He was the King of the Block until I got him at which time I had him get a vasectomy. Yes, a vasectomy, because I still wanted him to think he was “king of the block” even though he was on the end of the leash after I got him.
I decided he needed company so after doing A LOT of research I found a breeder who was having puppies and purchased a female “not for showing”. Then I started taking her to obedience classes and hey, as long as I was there, conformation and showing classes (much to the Breeders embarrassment). The first show she went to, we walked up to the Judge and she rolled over on her back to have her tummy rubbed. Needless to say, although the Judge was very nice by asking if this was our first show, Lucy didn’t come in first. Eventually, Lucy got her Championships in both conformation (beauty) and obedience but I have to admit that it took a lot of money and time to do it.
Meanwhile another Breeder must have either felt sorry for me (there were some tears when the Judge didn’t even look at her) and said she would get me a good puppy if I wanted. So, I got the pick of a wonderful litter of beautiful puppies. This one had the right attitude for showing. Perhaps he had a little too much of the right attitude because when he would be posing for the win he would also be ripping the ribbons from the Judge’s hand and knocking over the sign and I got blisters on my hand so I hired a handler. But, he was beautiful and he got a Best in Show and was invited to Eukanuba and was in the top 10 and went to Westminster twice. (All stories in themselves).
After obtaining some more females and finishing them (getting their Championships) I decided to become a breeder and did well for several litters but, as usual, disaster struck and I had a litter of puppies that I don’t even want to think about. Two survived but I spayed and placed the females and neutered my male. My last show dog was in 2005 and he obtained his championship when less than one year but had to be euthanized at the age of 2 years. That was it. The gene pool in Australian Terriers was too small and I was not getting any straight answers (or any answers at all) from other Australian Terrier breeders (even those belonging to the Australian Terrier Club of America) so why would I want to repeat my mistakes and go through that again? My thoughts were that perhaps other breeders had had litters like mine and since the malformations were obvious when the pups were born they just disposed of the pups and said they had small litters. Why would they want to give their breeding programs a bad name? Especially when they had been working on them for years and years?
Knowing how wonderful the Australian Terrier breed was I just couldn’t keep away from them and I found a couple of groups on Facebook that had them and kept talking about them and then there were the Breeders on them that were having puppies and people were getting puppies and I was just dying! So I decided on a breeder and told her I would like a show pup in 2015 but would like it to be a pup whose parents were from out of the United States. No problem. Then a Breeder in Sweden had a litter and I couldn’t stand it so I asked for a pup and she said yes! But, I got strong again and cancelled the order and told her I couldn’t get one until 2015. This past July a litter was born that was mostly from out of the US and my Karla is sitting beside me now. See how strong I am?
Now comes the ranting and raving:
When you show a dog you try to show one that is as close to the standard as possible. A standard is a description made by the individual breed clubs of the perfect dog, in this case made by the Australian Terrier Club of America. This standard is to be read by the judges of the American Kennel Club and learned by heart and who are then allowed to judge the Australian Terrier. Our standard has explicit descriptions of all of the dogs parts, how they move, how they are put together and their personalities. Not only do they have descriptions but they specify what deviations from the standard are more important than others. They tell you how the Australian Terrier should be and in that description certain things are to be PENALIZED, such as “in any color, white markings on the chest or feet are to be penalized. In other words, if you take a dog in the ring with other dogs and your dog has white it can still win but the other dogs would have to be much worse than yours.
WORSE than penalized is a FAULT, such as light colored or protruding eyes, cobbiness, too long in loin, straight, loose and loaded shoulders, down on pasters, lack of muscular development or excessive muscularity, all black body coat in the adult dog, tan smut in the blue portion of the coat or dark smut in sandy/red coated dogs, shyness or aggressiveness toward people. A FAULT is worse than a penalization and in my opinion you shouldn’t even embarrass yourself by bringing a dog with a fault into the ring and wasting the Judge’s time with it.
Karla has a tail. A beautiful wagging, just the right length with just the right amount of hair and just the right color of a tail. However, Australian Terrier tails are described as docked. It is not something to be penalized and it is not a fault but it is in the description so if I were to take Karla into the ring against two other dogs and they were all the same, Karla would lose because of her tail. If she was a bit better then she would win regardless of the tail.
In Europe it is illegal to dock the tail of a dog. You cannot show them if they have docked tails I believe (I’m not sure about this). So if I were to purchase a dog from Europe it would have to be at least eight weeks old and would still have a tail when it got over her. At this time I would consider that tail to definitely be a part of the spine and I would NOT dock it and I would look down on any veterinary that would dock it for me. The argument that tails get injured is hogwash. I suppose if a leg got hurt you would amputate it. Same with a tail. But remove it for no reason except that some person thinks it looks better shorter? The same with ears. Actually I like the looks of people with smaller ears so I think they should go to the doctor and get their ears docked please so that I don’t have to look at big ears.
Here we go: In the last Australian Club of America (ATCA) newsletter under “Corresponding & Recording Secretary Reports” it was stated that a letter from a Judge (I assume it was an AKC Judge) was received as follows: I am a newly approved terrier group judge. Like all judges (I certainly hope) I want to do what the parent clubs feel is right for their breed. I recently had an entry of 5 at an all breed show. Several had undocked tails which I found to be a terrible distraction to proper outline. None of these dogs possessed what I would call a “distinct keel” called for in your standard. I also judge dachshunds, and maybe I am expecting too much. However a hollow front is offensive to me in your breed.
I did not place the Aussie in my group simply because of the lack of a “distinct keep”. I felt the lack of a keel impacted the right outline and front assemble. Please help me with both the tail and the keep issues. I would like to have parent club understanding on these issues. I have placed a fine specimen of your breed group 2 at least twice recently. Thank you.

It was reported that the Judge’s Education Chair responded describing again for the Judge the correct front assembly for the Australian Terrier and quoting additional references regarding the same and then requoting the standard that states that the tail should be docked.
Had I been Corresponding Secretary of the ATCA I would have responded to the Judge that perhaps before he/she be allowed to judge, he/she should aquaint him/herself with the breed standards that he/she will be judging. I would ask how this person got a license to judge when he/she could be so distracted by a tail. Does this judge also get distracted by the person holding the lead of the dog? Or, perhaps, what that person is wearing? I know that these things do happen and it is VERY discouraging to the owner of the dog that has put time and money into training and transporting their dog to the show. The dog is in the ring for only a few minutes and receives (we hope) even less time of the judge’s attention. It is unfortunate that that time is spent not looking at the dog but being distracted by a tail, or by a nice leash or by a spectator waving their arm.
However, luckily, I will never be the Corresponding Secretary of the ATCA (more about that later perhaps), because if I were, there would be a mass mailing to all judges stating that they should try to remember that all dogs should have tails, eyes, ears, noses and at the very least….kisses!

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