Fri, 05/26/2023 - 8:16am

Dreaming ...

Sid Marx contemplates the attributes of a "dream show"

According to Medical News Today, “Dreams are stories and images that our minds create while we sleep. They can be entertaining, fun, romantic, disturbing, frightening, and sometimes bizarre.”

In reality, there are “dream” assignments for judges. There are elements that make an assignment truly pleasurable. For me, the show might be in a country I have always wanted to visit — Australia, Sweden, etc. — but there are also many “dream shows” here in the U.S.  

A dream show for this judge starts with a show chair (or hospitality chair) who sends frequent, timely emails so I don’t have to guess about transportation or hotel reservations. It continues with easy flights that are on time and connecting flight gates that are next to each other — or better yet, direct flights with upgrades to first class. A great venue for a judge has good-size rings, competent stewards, great lunches, floors that don’t make our ankles ache — all in a moderate, dry temperature. A quiet, comfortable hotel and good restaurants within walking distance or in the hotel are a major plus.

A judging slate that includes people I enjoy being with and quality dogs to judge are the cherries on top of this sundae. I have had many shows where groups that I judged — or Best in Show — included a number of dogs that I have awarded group wins or Bests in Show to before. It is hard to choose from these wonderful dogs, but a joy to have so many special dogs in front of me.  

A dream show for an exhibitor starts with a judging slate that seems to be (in the exhibitor’s mind) favorable to the style of dog you are showing, and one who is friendly to exhibitors. It continues with good weather, and a safe, easy drive to the show with a perfect location for your motorhome on a nice grassy spot or a hotel room on the first floor and close to the exit door that leads out to a clean, grassy area for exercising your dog. Since this is my dream, I will add that all the motorhomes have sustainable free 50-amp power. (I told you it was a dream.)

If it is a three-day weekend with two specialty shows on one of the days, the way you and the dog work together should be of utmost importance, but realistically, for most people it is dependent on the color of ribbons won. Winning the two specialties, plus group wins and a Best in Show, would be the ideal for almost anyone. If this is not good enough for you, check your priorities. 

For a show chair or committee, a dream show entails a judging slate that is definitely NOT high maintenance, a nearby hotel with a restaurant that offers decent rates, and a safe show venue that does not blow up the budget. A show with no problems, that moves smoothly and finishes by 6 p.m. is ideal.  


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Unfortunately, not all dreams are pleasurable. Nightmares do occur. Although the reasons for these are not completely understood, perhaps Charles Dickens got it right in A Christmas Carol when Scrooge attributed his ghostly visitation: “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!” 

Whatever the reason for these disturbing dreams, they do occur. Obviously, for a show chair, any show that includes arguments with exhibitors — often about parking or grooming space — is now a nightmare show. At the height of discomfort would be a show that has a heavy rainfall that winds up with trucks and motor homes stuck in the mud, requiring a tow truck. Obviously, the destruction of the show grounds would wind up being costly. At the worst, add to these problems a show that requires a bench hearing. And, as often happens, losing two or three judges to illness makes for a stressed-out, scrambling show chair. This would be the climax of a nightmare show.  

For an exhibitor, a nightmare show starts with a harrowing drive through bad weather, a flat tire, and arriving a lot later than planned. The next morning, finding out that your dog — or, worse, dogs — got sick during the night. After having them checked and cleared by the vet, it appears that they just made a mess, and requiring all to immediately be bathed adds to the already building stress. After doing all this work, you find that there has been a judge change to someone you would rather not have judge your dogs. But, since you are already here and have done all this work, you decide to show anyway. After a frenzied amount of grooming, you enter the ring to hear the judge say, “Take them around and don’t stop until I tell you.”  

Finally allowed to stop, barely able to breathe, you start to set up your dog, who — absolutely with no warning — seems to have forgotten everything and fights every move you make. You feel as if every eye in the place is watching as you fumble, lose the lead, and try to get your dog stacked again — with him fighting you all the way. You finally get to move your dog, and immediately twist your ankle, but you try to gut your way through this, hobbling around the ring. After the ribbons are handed out – and you did not get any — the judge stops you and says, “I wish he had behaved better — I really like him.” Great! 

A judge’s nightmare show starts with a club — and thankfully there are very few of them — that hires you and then you never hear from them again, so you don’t know at which hotel you are staying or what the transportation arrangements are. Yes, it happens. Your flight is delayed, so you miss your connection. After hours of fighting with the airlines, you get on another flight that gets you to your destination well after midnight. You get to the hotel to find out that they gave away your room because you were late — even though you called. They find a room for you at another hotel, but that room is on the fifth floor and the elevator is not working. Finally, after 3 a.m. you get into bed for three hours sleep. You take a taxi to the show grounds, and the person at the front gate wants to charge you admission. Grrr. 

And how was your three hours of sleep? Here was your dream/nightmare ….  

You get to your ring and open your judge’s book. It is a mess. The book shows the breed to be judged, but then there is just a list of armband numbers, with no class indicated. There is no place to indicate your placements or your winners. The next breed is listed right below this, and the numbers are shown the same way. Obviously, something is wrong.

You call for the superintendent, but no one comes to the ring, so you take the book and go to the superintendents’ desk. When you show the book to the person in charge, she looks at the book and simply says, “Hmm, I wonder how that happened. Well, there’s nothing I can do, and you better get back to your ring because you are running late.”

You are left with no choice but to go to the AKC field representative. She is busy interviewing someone and says you will have to wait. But, you explain, my ring is now 30 minutes late. Finally, she looks at the book, and says, “Hmmm, I have never seen anything like that before. Well, do the best you can.” 

You go back to the ring — now 45 minutes late — but find that someone else is in your ring, judging another breed. You are told to find an empty ring. You run all over the show grounds until you finally find an empty ring, and call for your breeds to come there. You muddle your way through the judging, writing the winners in the margins. After each breed you judge, someone comes up to complain about your placements, but you just don’t have the time to speak with anyone. You judge quickly to try to make up time, and finally get to your lunch break. On the way to the lunchroom, you drop your book off to the superintendent.  

You are just taking your first mouthful when the superintendent comes in and tells you that you have a number of mistakes in your book.

“How in the hell would you know?” you ask. “Just do the best you can!”

The superintendent says we will have to discuss this with the AKC rep. “Bring it on!” you say.  

It is at this point I wake up and realize that I have not even left home for my assignment yet. It must have been those vegetables!  

What do you think?



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