Oh, How Times Have Changed …
As a student of dogs, I always look for ways to learn more about not only the history of breeds, but the history of the sport of dogs. I am also a collector of old catalogs, AKC Gazettes and other old things.
For those who may not have been around our sport for 55 years, like I have, the old Gazettes were a condensed size in 1945 and many years before that. While only 6inches-by-9-inches in size, they contained a large amount of information. The editor for many years was Arthur Frederick Jones. Officers of the AKC were Dudley P. Rogers, president; Henry D. Bixby, executive vice-president and Perry B. Rice, secretary-treasurer.
The way judges were mentioned in the Gazette was very interesting. In the Applications for Judges’ Licenses (Permanent) in the January 1945 issue, some of the names were Mrs. Eva V. Hill of Encino, Calif., who was approved for Pointers, and Heywood R. Hartley of Richmond, Va., for Miniature Schnauzers. The other list was Applications for Judges’ Licenses (Temporary). Each of these applications had what was referred to “recommended by” people. Miss Gertrude L. Rowe of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was applying for All Toy Breeds, was recommended by Mrs. R.S. Bedford, Dr. E. H. Berendsohn and seven others, including Alva Rosenberg.
Oh, how the times have changed! Now it is New, Additional and Permit breeds, and no one can recommend you.
Some of the licensed superintendents for 1945 were Mrs. Bernice Behrendt of San Francisco; George K. Blakely of Philadelphia; Jack Bradshaw, Jr. of Los Angeles; M. F. Couillard of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Foley Dog Show Organizations Inc. of Philadelphia; Wm. C. Gugerli of Auburn, Indiana; Kemp Dog Show Organization of Bridgewater, Mass.; C.C. Leach of Minneapolis, Minn.; Mrs. Emma Loest of Kansas City, Mo.; Edgar A. Moss of Greensboro, N.C.; Mrs. A. L. Onstad of Glendale, Calif., and Mrs. K. E. Steinmetz of Knoxville, Tenn.
Some of these with different name changes are still operating today. Jack Bradshaw, Jr. Dog Shows is still going strong on the West Coast and is the oldest superintendent in the United States. In those days the superintendents could recommend judges. Also I noticed Mrs. A.L. Onstad was one of the people who recommended a judge in this issue. That is unheard of today… why?
Some of the non-members clubs of 1945 were the Weimaraner Club of America, the English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, the Basenji Club of America and the Bloodhound Club of America.
There were also some interesting articles written in this and other issues of the 1940s. One in particular was titled “Speaking of ‘Headaches,’” written by Harry Hartnett. Mr. Hartnett was managing director of the Gaines Research Kennels. He managed private kennels for various breeds for a select clientele, and bred and raised Irish Setters for the show ring in his own name. One of the most famous dogs he showed was the Irish Setter Ch. Milson O’Boy. Mr. Hartnett died shortly before the article was published of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was only 49 years old.
Some interesting excerpts from this article:
As an exhibitor, handler and breeder of some 30 years’ standing – with an occasional judging assignment thrown in – I cannot allow an article in the September Gazette entitled, “Judges Have Headaches, Too,” to pass unchallenged. Its attempt to whitewash judges and put the blame on exhibitors and handlers and the warning to the latter as to what may happen if they do not accept defeat like good sports, make no contributions to the welfare of the dog game or to the clearing-up of an unfortunate situation. Granted there are certain exhibitors and handlers that are always trying to win with second-rate dogs and always crying when they fail, that is their way of enjoying a dog show. The fact remains that there is much wrong on the judges’ side of the picture as on that of the exhibitors. Let me cite a few facts that the writer of the article has in question seems to ignore:
Too many of our judges have never bred a litter; some do not even own a dog; yet they pose as authorities.
Few breed clubs have list of approved judges, and even when they do, these lists do not necessarily mean that the parties approved have any adequate knowledge of the breed. Sometimes they simply have enough friends in the club to vote for them. I, personally, believe the show game would be a lot better off if the AKC did away with all “approved” lists and all judges’ licenses. Let the exhibitor learn to show under all judges fearlessly. If he dislikes a certain decision, he need not show under that judge again. Or it might be better if he studied his dog to determine whether it was worthy of placement, and if not, tried to breed a better one.
As to judges “references,” we all know that many exhibitors mail to the AKC favorable reports on candidates whom they have never seen judge, having no idea of the latter’s knowledge of the breed or breeds involved. In some cases they then inform the applicant of their action, possibly hoping to be rewarded with a ribbon or two later on.
“Long winded” judges sometimes take from 30 minutes to an hour to judge two dogs, or spend 20 minutes on one lone entry in a class, and we have all seen these time-wasters stand talking to a steward or their friends at the ringside with dogs in the ring waiting to be judged. I recall an especially flagrant case a few years ago, where, at a half-hour after midnight, a judge who still had more breeds and groups to do wasted valuable time walking leisurely about and talking to various ringsiders. Is it any wonder that best in show was not judged until 2:30 A.M. or that exhibitors did plenty of squawking?
The tight vs. loose lead proposition is another headache. It is every judge’s privilege to have an exhibitor walk or run his dog to suit him; if he objects to a tight lead, that is his business and he can ask you to loosen it; but the fact is, some dogs show better on a loose lead, while others are just the opposite. In my opinion this loose-lead idea is simple a phobia with some of our judges. A loose or tight lead never changed a dog’s conformation, and all dogs should be judged on conformation.
Of course judges have their troubles, too; but I see no reason to feel sorry for them. No one forces them to apply for a license; they do it of their own free will …
As for judges traveling great distances exhibitors trek just as far, pay their own expenses and are sometimes obliged to put up at poor hotels or even sleep in their cars; and unlike many a judge, have no exhibitor to put them up for the night, serve them drinks (not water) during the evening and make them comfortable in general.
Now for the handler… Personally, I doubt if the show game could go on very well without them. Count in any catalog the number of dogs shown by professionals, multply if by $3 and you will quickly see how much they mean to the show-giving club. That his is no easy life is evidenced by the fact that he so often passes on in his prime from heart trouble; and did you ever hear of a handler being able to “retire” and live on the money he made in the dog game?
Summing it all up all of us in the show game – judges, exhibitors, bench-show committees, superintendents and handlers – are human. We have our faults – and our troubles; but most of us take the latter in stride hoping “we’ll do better next time,” and neither asking nor expecting pity. As a matter of fact, if we must be sorry for anything or anybody, let’s us feel sorry for the poor unfortunate dog. No one asks him if he want to go to a bench-show; he is kept out in the boiling sun in red-hot weather, dutifully doing his best for his owner and handler, without even the satisfaction of knowing what it’s all about or even getting the thrill of a well-deserved win. Few of us seem to appreciate the strenuous job he must do. Yet it is the dog that makes the dog show after all.
Finally, let’s have “charity for allz" and realize that the dog game in general would be better off with less kicking and more cooperation on the part of all concerned. Give everybody a break and I believe we would find the conditions we complain would automatically right themselves.
You must remember that this was written in 1945, and you can see that we are still having some of the same situations that they had then. I very much like the last paragraph of his article, and I do think we are doing better today… maybe not … I guess it is in the eye of the beholder.
Contents from the AKC Gazette in this article used with the permission of the American Kennel Club.