I’ve had a couple of judging experiences recently that have set me to wondering about just when it’s time to write to the AKC about a particular judge.  I’m not talking about my opinion differing from the judge’s; that’s bound to happen, and probably more often than not.  In that case, you make a note in your show record (you are keeping those, right?) and don’t enter that dog under that judge again.  Simple enough.

But what about when the judge is visibly struggling to carry out his/her judging assignment, due to either physical or mental limitations?  In one situation I’ve encountered recently, my friend’s breed was judged by a gentleman for whom standing was an obviously taxing effort.  He struggled to stand and walk with two canes, and leaned heavily on the table while the exhibitors attempted to set their dogs up for examination.  On several occasions, he leaned one or both of his canes against the table and subsequently knocked them over while trying to examine the dogs, startling them.  Also, his weight more than once caused the table to shift and slide while a dog was on it.  This gentleman had to sit between each dog, and sometimes while he was judging the dog on the down and back and/or on the go-around.

Now, I’m as guilty as the next person about not doing enough table-training and proofing, but that is A LOT to ask a dog to take in stride.  I was not showing to this particular judge myself, but I know that it was not a good experience for my friend with her dog.  Had it been me, I honestly think I would have had to pull my dog and been out the entry fee for that day.

In another instance, I was in the ring with a judge who was visibly confused about what class, even what sex she was judging.  Her several fuzzy moments culminated in her trying to put up dogs for both Best of Breed and Best Opposite, a situation that she resolved, when it was pointed out to her, by simply pointing to Winner’s Bitch for BOS over an obviously much more deserving bitch Special.

No one wants to be “that exhibitor” who runs around whining to the AKC rep or writing letters every other minute, and I don’t think anyone wants to see a long and creditable judging career tarnished by such finger-pointing, but at what point is enough enough?  Until the AKC receives multiple complaints about a particular judge, they are not going to suspend or revoke privileges — because they don’t even know there’s a problem!  Since we, as the exhibitor, are the ones affected by a judge’s inability to do the job, isn’t it incumbent upon us to notify the powers-that-be when there is a problem?

I did not notify anyone in either of these instances because, as I said, no one wants to be that person.  But having read an account of a similar situation that occurred this past weekend with one of these judges, I kind of wish I had.  Perhaps if I — and others — had done so, other exhibitors would not have had to deal with this unfortunate set of events.

What do you all think?  Is it enough to just make a note to yourself not to enter under a particular judge, or do you think it’s our duty to help maintain the integrity of the judging process (however much you feel there is to begin with)?


Posted on January 23, 2012, in Breed Judging and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I agree that no one wants to be the person who notifies the powers that be that a judge may be unable to perform his/her duties. But it is totally unfair to the exhibitor to not get a true evaluation of their dog. Is this person temporarily unable to judge or is this a continuing health problem? I do not envy your position but clearly attempts should be made to resolve this problem. Unfortuately, sometimes a person just loses their ability to function mentally or physically to continue with their judges duties. Good Luck!

  2. If there is an AKC rep at the show, the complaint should be made to the rep at the time so he/she can go watch. If there is no AKC rep, then a letter calling the AKC’s attention to the issues is in order. It doesn’t need to be snarky (heaven knows they get plenty of those) — just a straightforward explanation of your observations of the issues. AND let your all breed clubs know about the problem so the Judges Selection Committee does not bring the person back. We have many judges that are quite elderly. If their advancing age adversely affects their ability to judge, it is important to speak up.

  3. A friend of mine showed her toy dog recently to a judge who didn’t know what class or sex she was judging. She tried to disqualify a puppy dog in the 6-9 class because “this bitch has balls.” When told she was judging dogs, she said it couldn’t be possible because the class she just finished judging was a bitch class… not possible since 6-9 dog is the first class. It’s honestly very sad, but at the same time, she shouldn’t be judging. Perhaps the same judge you showed under? I’d hate to think there is more than one like that.

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