I know that when I enter one of my dogs in a dog show, I am paying for a judge’s opinion. They should know and understand the breed standard but there are other things that come into play as well. A lot of it is personal preferences and of course there is the professional handler over breeder/handler battle that has been around for FOREVER. The phrase, “It’s just another day at the dog show” is uttered by many after every show (A topic that really should have it’s own full article in my Showing Your Chihuahua section!)
These are things that I also thought that I could keep my daughter shielded from while in Juniors. Highly competitive? Yes! But down-right blatant poor judging? Not cool!
With Juniors, the dog is not being judged – THE JUNIOR IS! Here is what it says on the AKC Website:
Juniors are judged on their ability to present, or handle, their dogs within the same formats and guidelines as those who compete in the breed ring. The quality of their presentation, not the dog, is judged. Juniors are encouraged to develop their handling abilities, dress appropriately, conduct themselves in a proper manner, and present their dog in a well-groomed condition.
Sooooo, with all of that being said, what happened today was upsetting for many people who witnessed it. To understand how crushing it was for my daughter personally, I should share that I had her entered for both days this weekend. The Junior ring time for yesterday was rather early and would require a hotel stay for us to make it. I simply couldn’t justify the added expense when she was the only entry for her class. Something I have shared for quite a while, she needs competition to be able to earn the points needed to move up in class. We have attended more “no competition” shows than anything and I chose not to go yesterday. Today there were a total of three entries in her class in the Judging Program. This is also her last dog show before she turns 15, moving her up to Senior Novice, where there are even LESS entries.
Alexis was pumped – VERY excited about the possibility of earning her first point. The entire drive to the show grounds consisted of her going over all the things she should do and the bad habits she needed to be aware of and refrain from doing. I will be the first to admit when she messes up and up until today, have always guessed the winner (When she did have competition). Today, my daughter NAILED IT!
Even with the 5 minute delay to make corrections to the Judge’s Book and the additional entry to come into the ring, she stayed focused and wore a smile. She followed all of the judge’s instruction to a T, walked Teddy down the center of the mat, not herself, got Teddy’s attention with the bait and kept his attention the entire time, used all of her table lessons perfectly, and even looked at and smiled at the judge walking around the ring! So when the judge pulled girls and rearranged them placing her in last place, I could hear the gasps from the spectator area. I was still watching to see if there would be an additional move but it never came. As Alexis was getting her 4th place ribbon, still with a smile, I had two different people approach me and say that she should have gotten first and have no idea what just happened.
With ribbon in hand and tears on her cheeks, all she could ask me as she walked back with Teddy was, “Mom, what did I do wrong?” I didn’t have an answer. As other strangers and even other juniors commented on how great she did, the tears began to subside but the reality of what happened started to settle in.
She explained that the judge not only made a rude comment but also gave a rather nasty expression when noticing Teddy’s lack of teeth. He has five teeth in his mouth and for his age, it’s not that uncommon in Toy Breeds, especially Chihuahuas! Their tiny mouths lead to tooth issues and loss as they get older. He is a veteran Champion who LOVES to show and as a junior dog, his lack of teeth should have absolutely no bearing in the Junior ring.
So if the Judge did in fact judge the dog and not the handler or she happened to note they fact that she was marked as Absent yesterday and made the decision to penalize her, than she needs to no longer be approved for judging Juniors. And unless my daughter made some rude and inappropriate comment that only the judge could hear or the judge gave her a complete different set of instructions than those given to the others in the ring which she didn’t follow, I don’t think anyone could figure out what made her put her in last place. Not even 2nd or 3rd place – LAST!
Please don’t get me wrong – the other girl did great but this is a novice class. I saw many of the same beginner mistakes Alexis has been making (in just about all of the shows she has entered!). I think many, including myself took the last place personally. I had hoped Alexis hadn’t. I had hoped this experience didn’t ruin her spirit!
My sweet Alexis dried the remaining tears from her cheek and then uttered the famous phrase she has heard me and my friends use countless times “Well mom, it’s just another day at the dog show. Oh, and I am never showing to that judge again!“