Dog shows always bring out the competitiveness side in me along with the biases. I’ll admit upfront I’m the proud owner of two German Shepherds and two Boston Terriers. I’ve also proudly owned Doberman Pinschers. So when two of my favorite breeds landed in the Westminster Best-in-Show (BIS) finals, it’s safe to say I was over the moon.
I have watched the Westminster Kennel Club show for at least ten years, but this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to voice my opinion that the judge got it wrong, way wrong. When this show comes on Monday-Tuesday night every year in February, I stop everything, turn off the phone and glue myself to the TV. I watch every breed strut its stuff in front of the camera, and being a long-time dog owner and having shown one of my German Shepherds, I have a sense of when dogs are “on”, and when a handler is really exceptional in showing the best features of their dog to the judge.
Last night, in my opinion there were four outstanding dogs of the seven vying for the championship: the Doberman Pinscher, Irish Setter, Dalmation and the German Shepherd. I felt that while the gait of the German Shepherd floated, he stacked better on Monday night, when I think he had his best night. The Dalmation was exceptional; it had to be to beat out the Standard Poodle. The Irish Setter, with its swan-like neck, was stunning and stacked beautifully. But the Doberman Pinscher, I believe won the evening. From its gait, conformation, and near-perfect stack, its breeder-owner-handler and the roar of the audience helped that dog show to one of its best showings. Any of these four dogs had what it took to walk away with the BIS honors.
Which is why when the judge made her announcement that BIS went to the Pekinese, you could literally hear a moment of stunned silence from the audience. My jaw was on the floor before I screamed “NOOOOOO!!” at the TV. The next minute of disgust was followed by channel-switching before I started sleuthing the BIS Judge, Cindy Vogels. While certainly qualified having judged BIS and local/regional shows, her experience is in Terriers, having been a successful breeder-shower of the Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier among others. She also is known for her expertise in the Toy group and the Sporting. She’s never judged Working, Herding, Non-Sporting, or Hound. H’mmm.
Certainly there are synergies between breeds, and solid judges have a keen eye for what makes a dog special. She’s certainly been judging for a long time, so I can’t honestly say doesn’t have the qualifications to judge BIS. It’s the subjectivity that kills you. And this is what gives us dog owners the joy, the angst, the exhilaration, and the melancholy when the dog we believe in our hearts fails to win the Championship of all Championships (including Crufts).
The only consolation right now is that the German Shepherd Dog made it to the finals, and the Standard Poodle, GCH CH Jaset’s Satisfaction, who beat it for the BIS show honors in the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship last December, didn’t. 🙂 Revenge is sweet.