Silver Lining & Poor Judging



From time to time, I like to add volatile fluids to the fire in order to stir the proverbial pot a bit. Like all writers, I like  challenging the status quo to bring about dialog in areas of needed change. You be the judge with the following.

A Silver Lining Behind Poor Judging at Dog Shows. A True Sweet & Sour Story.

How contradictory is the title of this rendering? How can two such opposing states of existence occur simultaneously?

A silver lining usually connotes a serendipitous surprise, a welcome windfall after a bad storm (weather-wise or
personal turmoil), a fortuitous respite after a maelstrom, a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, so how in heck’s
blazes could poor judging at dog shows be any of the aforementioned?

Poor judging ranks up there with “crooked judging” and alongside of “favor judging”, but where crooked judging and favor judging might actually select a great looking specimen and bestow it the win even if it was done with nefarious reasons, poor judging seldom rewards the best dogs!

Instead as in the case that follows; specimens were chosen that deviated so far from the written standard for the breed that it made many around ringside wince and shake their heads in disbelief! Of course in the name of "good sportsmanship", nary a wayward word is opined publicly, instead most accept the judge's verdict and proceed without much ado.

So, just how does a silver lining and poor judging, the two so opposing in nature to each other go hand in hand for this rendering?

Ah, bear with me on this one and I will take you on a mind bending journey that will eventually twist and turn and
prove the incongruities of the title to make sense (to some)!

We will use a recent dog show as a prime example of how a “silver lining behind poor judging” works!

The judge selects for his Winners Dog from a lineup of very decent males, a dog that at first glance seems to be nice enough, but upon further scrutiny from the outside perimeter of the show ring, the dog’s gait is not synchronized with
the front reach in comparison to his rear drive.

Something is terribly amiss and after a few more steps it becomes evident that the front legs are doing most of the work in moving forward, while the rear legs appear to be dragging somewhat. The length of stride of the front legs is almost twice the length of the rear leg’s stride, where the ideal would be a 50-50 proposition. The rear legs have almost no discernable drive backwards in aiding the dog to propel forward!

As the dog comes to a standing position, his rear legs remain totally under his groin section, not extended backwards where the hocks can be seen perpendicular to the ground. In addition, he seems to be listing to one side, putting most of his weight on the left rear leg and avoiding any weight on the right rear leg.

One can conclude that the disparity between front reach to rear drive movement, together with the reluctance of
shifting weight to one of the rear legs, that there may well be a structural anomaly or injury to that rear leg.
Something is definitely amiss in the rear assembly.

So, what was the judge looking at with something so obvious? Many scenarios come to mind as an explanation, but knowing the circumstances, I can assure anyone reading this that there were no shenanigans going on other than downright pathetic judging as was validated with the selection of the Winners Bitch.

Once again there was a very impressive lineup of females from the different classes. His choice is an extra long bodied, swayback yellow female that is considerably longer than she is tall, again the ideal would be a dog that is “equal to or slightly longer than it is tall”*. The breed standard also calls for “short coupled”* and a “level topline”* as the ideal.
Now from time to time we see some really nice dogs that have “moderate” coupling and that is fine as long as the topline is level. There may even be instances where the top line can be described as being “soft”, however when it goes into the realm of “epic proportions” of being “extra long-coupled” instead of short coupled and “swayback” instead of level topline, the divergence from the official dictum is totally being usurped by the inadequacies in judgment, thus the
“poor judging” attribute for the judge of the day.

*exact verbiage from the official dictum for the breed

To further bolster my case of poor judging, this particular female also displays total deviation from the ideal of correct front movement while coming in towards the judge. The front legs have a “crossing over to the other side motion”. The problem comes from the pasterns turning inwards during the forward stroke of the front leg at footfall causing a “scooping or scalloping action” by the pasterns and feet. Totally out of the standard for movement as the standard for
the breed calls for “parallel movement of all extremities”* and no deviations from the true straight column of joints formed by pasterns, elbows and shoulder assembly!

So the burning bush question here is, “what was the judge looking at?”

The answer is simple………………………poor judging!

So, how do poor judging and a silver lining go hand in hand?

Well, it has to do with this dog eat dog world we live in!

If we lived in a Utopian Society, where dog breeders were only in the sport for total improvement of the breed
regardless of who the breeder was, and if at a dog show all the dogs were identically equal of superb conformation and the selecting of a winner was done by picking out a numbered ball from one of those bingo cylinders and the winning number would correspond with a number on a handlers arm band with a dog in competition then it won’t matter.

However, in a real world scenario there is no real Utopia because where ever man dwells, there will be multitudes of inadequacies of judgment, thus the poor judging syndrome!

In the real world of competition, winning is first and foremost and losers have a tendency to just fade away with time. Winning is the name of the game in every competitive sport or endeavor. Now a day, football coaches are fired even
with a winning record unless they win the Super Bowl, CEO’s are canned if profits are not high enough. In our society, there is very little regard for being the “nice guy who finishes last”. “Loser” comes to mind right away where there is lack of winning!

The silver lining comes when the owners of these poorly structured Labradors proceed forward into a breeding
program using the validation of poor judging to guide them.

But how can that be a silver lining, how can that be a pleasant surprise or even a wee bit rainbow with a tiny pot of gold for these un-savvy individuals that can’t see the major faults of the dogs that they own and breed? After all if they can’t see these glaring faults on their own dogs, then their expertise as “breeders” is to be greatly questioned. Their ability to produce succeeding generations of the breed with the betterment of the breed in mind is surely a debacle in the making!

Well, truth be told, there is no silver lining for them at all because what they have on hand and what they will eventually breed is exactly what they will produce and since they have had validation from “questionable accredited sources” (the poor judging), they will take those same faults onward with them generation after generation, producing the same major faults with each breeding they put together and all with the “blessings” of those judges that couldn’t see the light of day because they wore opaque sunglasses!

So, you may be asking right about now, “where’s the silver lining come in?”

The “windfall” comes not to them, but to those that do know what true conformational quality is and are not swayed by the validation of poor judging, and have the expertise to “see” those glaring defects that others around ringside were shaking their heads at as well.

But in the dog eat dog world we live in, these “competitors” will continue producing these inferior dogs that allows
those who are breeding the best specimens to win with the majority of judges that do a good job with their judging assignments………………thus the silver lining shines bright for some after all.

Thus the title of this rendering is validated, as poor judging brings a major silver lining in the form of inferior competition to those that are breeding true specimens of the breed, thus ensuring more winning in the long run for the more knowledgeable breeders that are producing true to the breed standard

Sad situation, but true and there is really nothing anyone can do as most of these people that own these “out of whack
to the standard dogs” don’t really want to hear it from anyone else especially since they have received “validation”
from supposedly accredited sources (bad judging), sadder situation for those that obtain puppies from these unproven and obviously inept sources.

A true sweet and sour situation, but one that exists as part of any sport or endeavor, so the moral of the story for those searching for a quality product, be it a TV, a car or a puppy..........research extensively and go with those entities that have been producing quality year after year, whose successes transcend time, who have a product with a recognizable
“brand” of longevity.

It really doesn’t take long to decipher quality because it speaks for itself in the form of enduring, established traditional value. The tried and true mark follows those who produce outstanding year after year after year and their produce is identified by perpetual success in spite of the occasional “poor judging”.


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