present it is hard to say whether they are more cruel to the dogs or to the owners.”—“The benches ought to be more roomy, and have a wire door in front to prevent the public teasing the dogs."-"Larger rings and clear rings. All outsiders out!” (a very frequently expressed opinion). — "Only one ·V.H.C.,' 'H.C., and *C.' card should be awarded in each class. The present plurality makes the distinction a farce.”—“The judging should begin with puppy class and wind up with the open ; the juniors would come to the ring fresh, and have a chance of catching the judge's eye if they were of striking merit.”—“ The prize cards should be awarded in the ring, and so avoid the Blind Man's Buff system that obtains at present.”—" The hour for judging should be stated in the catalogue, and adhered to. Judges should be fined if they are not punctual.”—“No judge should be allowed to judge more than three breeds at a big show in the short-hour days; it is unfair on many dogs to be judged by artificial light.”—“The benches should be wider; many of the bigger breeds of dogs are greatly cramped in the insufficient space allotted them.” — “The veterinary arrangements want to be stricter; as they exist at present there can be no full examination ” (many times repeated).—“The benches should be well white-washed after use, and the wire partitions between them replaced by enamel - ware screens, so that they can be thoroughly and easily cleaned.”

Although there is some contradictory opinion in these suggestions, there is much food for reflection. I have not harped again on the woes of the exhibitor himself, though I am not without many indignant protests against the little consideration with which he is treated. For, after all, the exhibitor ought to be able to look after himself, which the dumb animal cannot do. My only regret is that I have not been able to get the opinions of some dogs themselves on the system of exhibiting them! I think they would have some tales to tell where they have been sent to shows without anyone in charge of them. It is too often taken for granted that every dog has an owner looking after it, and I have seen some well-trained dogs suffer very acutely from the absence of some one to attend to their wants. But these are cases where the exhibitor is more to blame than the people in charge of the show. Could I have my will, no dog should be allowed at a show that was not attended by its owner; but then, again, the owner that can send a dog to a show, much as he might consign goods to auction, is probably not the individual to pay much attention to his dog after the awards are over. I have heard people say that their dogs “like shows"; my own impression is that dogs loathe them. How to make them decently comfortable for the dogs is a problem none of my contributors have attempted to indicate.

JUDGES AND JUDGING Without doubt the judge is the most important and responsible personage connected with dog-showing; he is a despot; he has no jury to assist or control his actions, and he is fallible. In the criticisms of judges, as a class, I have endeavoured to eliminate all those papers,—and they were not a few,—which indicated, however remotely, a personal bias, leaving for quotation only those which, I believe, from the status of the writers (many of them judges themselves), were penned from a righteous conviction that the matters they mention want remedying. Upon the merits of these I express no further opinion, and I give them in the good faith

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

in which I have accepted them, only expressing my cordial agreement with that dictum which may be conveyed in the words, “ Don't speak to the man at the wheel.”

I consider that judges at dog shows have the whole success of a breed in their care. Incompetent, and, still worse, prejudiced judging, does incalculable harm. Many a man is afraid of offending his friends, and to such a man I would say, “Don't risk it ; stay outside.” Others desire to please all the exhibitors, and to such a man I would also say, “ Don't risk it; stay outside. You are aiming at the impossible." If a man has, in the kindness of his heart, undertaken to judge, and discovers when the dogs are round him that he has undertaken a task beyond his ability, he must do the best he can, and realise for the future that his abilities lie in another direction. Many men, with an excellent knowledge of a dog, have not the “judging ability," and I see no reason why they should be ashamed of it, any more than of the absence of any other peculiar faculty. Why exhibitors should appear to a judge in the light of roaring lions, anxious to rend him to pieces, passes my knowledge. As far as my experience goes, the man who palpably does his best, without fear or favour, and more especially if he has done his work in a methodical manner, has his errors readily excused. It is the man who tries to please all exhibitors who brings upon himself universal condemnation for a weak-kneed performance. The prejudiced judge we must always suffer from in the existing condition of humanity.

All judges should be licensed by the Kennel Club, and appointed by them after the entries are closed for each show. There should be no “following a judge.” No judge should be allowed to adjudicate who is not qualified in character and ability, The all-round judge should be discarded entirely.

Paid judges should never, under any circumstances, be employed at shows under Kennel Club rules or license.

It is quite time the professional judge was done away with.

No individual judge should be allowed to judge a particular breed more than twice in the year. To be consistent he must repeat himself, and his views are known.

Far be it from me to criticise those gentlemen who are good enough to spend time and money, and brave enough to act as judges at dog shows! At the same time I think the ranks of judges might be widened with advantage both to themselves and exhibitors. Not that I am anxious to see more “amateurs rush

in where angels fear to tread," but why cannot we persuade some of the old veterans, who really have knowledge, to give us the benefit of their experience ? I am afraid the fault lies largely with those exhibitors (I don't call them fanciers) who, when they do not get what they consider their dues, do not scruple to make things unpleasant for the judge. What inducement is there for a man who really knows his subject to expose himself to such treatment ?

It is preferable always to have gentlemen for judges ; exhibitors abide more willingly by their decisions, whether favourable or otherwise, than by those of ladies.

Lady judges are afraid to speak their own mind; they should be barred. Whilst giving them every credit for trying to give the best dog first, can we imagine the tender-hearted creatures allowing their best and dearest friends to go out of the ring emptyhanded ?

The rule against speaking to the judge in the ring should be more strictly enforced. The judge should not know the name of the dog he is judging, or of its owner.

Judging rings should be kept more strictly, and no exhibitors should address a judge about their exhibit. The rule against it is often more honoured in the breach than in the observance.

A judge who gets “catalogue information” from a ring steward should be disqualified ; no catalogue should be allowed in the ring during judging.

No officials, especially ring stewards, should handle or have any connection with dogs shown in the ring they are stewarding.

No one wearing a badge connected in any way with the show should be allowed to lead a dog into the ring for judging.

All judges should be specialists. I would not allow owners to show their own dogs in the ring. There should be no combing, brushing, etc., after the dogs have entered the ring.

I think it a mistake for owners to lead their dogs into the ring ; in some cases it is not the dog, but the other end of the lead that is judged ; but I am quite aware that this is a difficult problem to deal with.

I would like all dogs to be brought into the ring by disinterested parties.

It would be very much fairer if owners, or their keepers, did not lead their dogs into the ring.

I cannot help but think that in dog-judging there is a good deal in whom the dog belongs to.

A great many judges go for the owners and not the dogs. They should go straight bang for the dog, point for point, without fear or favour. Some judges will tell you they know the dogs too well to go over them properly when judging.

I think it very undesirable that dealers and professional exhibitors should judge. By these terms I mean those who make a livelihood chiefly by these means. I have not a word to say against the class, amongst whom are to be found many most respectable and trustworthy persons. But I do not think they can take the independent attitude needful in a judge.

A judge should be chosen for his ability and integrity; a person who makes his livelihood by trafficking in dogs, directly or indirectly, is not in my opinion a proper person to act as a judge ; and the person who studies his pockets is not worthy of the name of judge. This is strong language, I know, but experientia docet, and it will be appreciated by those who, like myself, wish to see the best dog win.

There are too many amateur judges. A judge of a dog, like a judge of a horse, is born-not made.

I should like to see three judges in the ring instead of one. Judging is too much a matter of individual taste.

Judges should judge according to the recognised standard of the type of the breed, and not according to their own ideas.

Judges ought periodically to attend club meetings, and imbibe a review of the points laid down by the clubs.

Judges who give obviously bad decisions should be hauled up before the Kennel Club to explain them; and if their explanation is unsatisfactory they should be disqualified from further judging, on the broad grounds of ignorance of their duties.

In quoting these selected expressions of opinion I have left out many referring to judging at minor shows, which take a much stronger view than any I have recapitulated. I look upon them rather as an argument in favour of that opinion so many of my contributors have expressed as to the propriety of doing away with superfluous and trumpery shows, which are not conducted for the good of the dog, but the benefit of owners.

« ForrigeFortsett »