Thursday, July 29, 2010


When I posted to Facebook about a judging panel I did not care for, I got an email asking me the difference between a good judge and a bad judge. I've been thinking about that for awhile and it occurred to me that putting my thoughts on paper might be interesting. Sometimes I surprise myself when I get caught up in writing.

Some judges are just good all around judges. Knowledgeable, fair, efficient, nice to both dogs and people. Their opinions are respected by most exhibitors, and a win under one of them is memorable. Because dogs are judged to a written standard, and because they are judged based on the judge's interpretation of that standard, the results will vary. I can like & respect Judge Aye, but know that he is not a suitable judge for a dog I am currently showing. His mental image for the ideal Dal may be somewhat different than mine and if I show to him I do it knowing that my dog might not be quite what he is looking for. That does not make him a bad judge, just not an ideal judge for my dog, bur depending on the competition, my dog may win because there is nothing in the ring that he likes better.

Because our dogs are not all alike, and we show what we have, some judges may be good for some of our dogs and not good for others. When I was showing my first Best In Show winner "Morris", I did not show him to a particular judge I knew would not care for him. Morris just wasn't the type of Dal he used. This same judge gave my current Best Im Show dog "Argus" the Dalmatian National a couple of years ago. Argus is a different style of dog than Morris, and the type this particular judge prefers. Both were good dogs, but somewhat different in size, type, outline and gait.

If judges were consistent in what they put up, we could save ourselves a lot of entry fees, but unless there is a good sized entry of quality dogs, the judge has to judge what they have to work with and may not have a dog of the type/style they prefer. Some judges we KNOW will not use high tails, big dogs, heavy markings, whatever, but sometimes they don't have a choice and the best dogs may have features the judge dislikes - but has to use on that day. Some judges have things they will not use, no matter how good the overall dog and no matter how bad the competition. That's unfortunate, because they are supposed to be judging the whole dog, the sum of its parts. Unless that feature affects soundness such as very bad feet or extreme cow hocks, or is a temperament flaw such as shyness or aggression, it's just a fault and all dogs have them.

Most judges do their best on any given day, but there are a few dumb ones. The dumb ones are usually poor judges in all breeds, but sometimes they are just bad with specific breeds - as if they hadn't a clue as to what the standard calls for and what the breed should look like. This is often based on not liking a breed. Although we should be judging all breeds fairly, there is some bias of course, and some judges just don't like Dalmatians, the same way you and I just don't care for certain breeds. It's unfortunate that this happens, but if you want to judge the Non Sporting Group, you judge all the breeds in it - including Dalmatians. We try to avoid the judges we know don't care for the breed, but will sometimes show to the dumb ones and take our chances, as long as they are pleasant to dogs and exhibitors.

There are also judges who are inexperienced in a breed but will do a better job as they gait confidence. They are often confused about spotting, patches, tri-colors and breed specific things they don't understand. They often waste time looking for patches, odd colored spots, or trying to decide if the spotting is OK. They are often "spot counters" for awhile, judges who put too much emphasis on markings as they try to do the safe thing. Spotting is 25% of the breed standard, but structure and temperaments are 75%!

There are a lot of judges who are what I call Doggy Socialites - they judge for the ego trip, but are not good dog people and really don't understand or can not recognize a quality dog of any breed. A judge has to have an eye for balance, proportion and quality, and has to understand and be able to form a mental picture from written words. Some will never be able to do that, no matter how well intentioned they may be.

Too be continued . . .

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Biking Adventure

Got back from taking Charlie out to dog class last night and still had Argus to exercise. The weather map indicated we had some time before the rain hit, so Argus and I dashed off with my bike for a quick mile or two, depending on what the weather did. So much for weather maps! We got half a mile from home as the skies darkened, and then it started to rain. We quickly turned and headed for home as it began to pour. Skies black, windy, lightening, and rain came down in sheets. Ugh. Fortunately Argus is experienced with the bike and has good leash manners, and any cars on the roads had their headlights on, so we raced for home. Argus always wants to trot faster than I normally bike him, so last night he got his wish and looked as if he really enjoyed it. Me, not so much! I was soaked of course, but it was an interesting adventure. The things we do for our dogs!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dogs And Audrey

Oops, almost out of time already. Got distracted "playing" with my camera when the software for down-loading pictures stopped working. Things are back to normal now - amazing what rebooting will do to solve problems!

The weather forecast calls for storms later today, so I decided that I had better get some current pictures of Audrey the Cup Plant, just in case we got high winds and she suffered some damage. Here's Audrey in all her glory, with Argus sitting beside her to put the size in perspective. Also got a cute picture of Miss Josie, who rarely gets her picture taken because she is rarely still enough for a picture. Although Josie's dad is Am/Can Paisley Perpetual Motion, that name actually fits Josie better than it fits Peter!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Although my weekend plans included dog shows in Wausau, that's not how it played out. The shows were small (less than 500 dogs), the group was tiny (only 33 NS dogs) and breed competition was tough (4 male specials), plus the show site is not one I am fond of. One judge was good for Argus, the other an unknown for him, and I just could not convince myself to give up the whole weekend for something so unpromising. Lot more exciting shows coming up this summer, so took the weekend off.

I'd been watching the website on Perry, the Corpse Plant who was getting ready to flower for the second time, and decided on Saturday morning that I really wanted to see that. I love unusual plants and this one is even weirder than my Audrey, a strange jungle plant whose Latin name means "giant misshapen penis" and who uses the odor of rotten flesh to attract the insects that pollinate it. Ron & I drove down to St. Peter, to Gustavis Adopholphus College, and paid "Perry" a visit. That's the three of us in the picture. Pretty cool. The flower was amazing, and the smell pretty disgusting. It's very nice that the school opens their greenhouse for this event, and that students and teachers volunteer their time so the public can participate in this extraordinary event.

While in St. Peter we visited a couple of interesting antique stores and came home with something I never envisioned buying, and something we both liked immediately. A 1950s aqua plastic breadbox in perfect condition. Looks great on top of the fridge, with his and hers loaves of bread. Another dust catcher, but . . . Then we celebrated our find at Dairy Queen. Love those Oreo Blizzards!

Finished up the day by bathing the three oldsters. Took the grooming table out to the dog yard, strung the hose out there too, and just used cold water from the outside tap. A little chilly for the dogs, but so much easier than bathing them in the basement, and because the table has a grooming arm it's faster , and a whole lot easy on my back.

When I'm home on weekends I try to plan something to do with my mother. She likes to get out, and says that weekends are the longest, because so many people are gone and there are no organized activities. At 86 she's somewhat limited on what she can do - too much walking is out of the questions - and she just enjoys just getting out for a ride. She still enjoys going out to eat, so I suggested we could do brunch or dinner and she decided brunch would be a nice change. Using trusty Google I came up with a list of brunches in the St. Paul area, selected Chianti Grill because of menu, location and price and made a reservation on line. Slick! Great choice too, as the food and service were outstanding. Absolutely lovely restaurant too - hard to believe the building was once a Ground Round, many $$$$ ago.

Time to go pack up some fish that are being picked up today.