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)?