Question of the Week
San Leandro, California
In 1981, I flew to the January Florida circuit to visit a friend. Barbara was specialing her Maltese. We drove from show to show and always hung out at Barbara and George Heitzman’s set-up. Barbara could not have been more welcoming. I found her humble yet confident and an extremely capable handler. She had absolutely great hands on her dogs and could groom like no other. Years later, when we were both judging, I was on many panels with her, and as time passed we became even better friends. The loss of George was a tough time for her, but ever resilient she soldiered on. Kind, fair and knowledgeable are adjectives easily applied to Barbara the judge. Lovely, warm and genuine are descriptive of Barbara the person.
Dr. Joyce Dandridge
Barbara — always kind and smiling, possessing grace. She was the judge for my first ring-steward assignment more than 30 years ago. She made it a very pleasurable day. As years passed and many other opportunities stewarding for her, we realized we had a mutual dog friend in Pittsburgh. My last conversation with her was last fall when she congratulated me on judging my national specialty. The fact she had that information and remembered it was inspiring.
Oyster Bay Cove, New York
I had the good fortune of winning Best in Show in the late ’90s with my Bulldog, Ch. Cherokee Dakota Robert, under Barbara Alderman. While it was a very good "day at the dog show," it is not my best memory of Barbara. The best is the repetitive memory of watching her judge many times over the years. Several things come to mind immediately ... Barbara always had a smile on her face, made all (people and dogs) feel welcome, and followed a consistent procedure that was easy to follow and especially helpful to new exhibitors.
The passing of Barbara Alderman should be a reminder for all of us to appreciate and learn from the many great "dog people" that help make our sport great ... and our sport is great.
Vicki Seiler Cushman
I first met Barbara Alderman and George Heitzman in 1971. I have so many memories, it would be impossible to say just one. They were the handlers of my mother's Siberian Huskies. Barbara was beautiful, elegant, talented, and what kid would not want to be JUST LIKE HER? I was in awe of her, and she was kind to me; she loved children. As I grew into George Rood's assistant, we enjoyed many dinners together; the group traveled from show to show. (Back in those days we traveled in groups and had dinner, each show was in a different location on the weekends.) As everyone knows who loved her, she had a really fantastic sense of humor; she always knew what to say in the simplest of terms to bring home the moment. She has a granddaughter who is interested in fashion, just as my daughter is. I know she will be successful with the determination in her DNA.
When I first applied for my judges license, I called Barbara (she called me one of her kids). She gave me valuable direction that I will remember forever, so I chose to do my first interview at a show where Barbara would be. I went the night before to Indianapolis and had dinner with Barbara to calm my nerves. She once again gave me one of her conversations to basically say “you've got this.” In the past few years, she and Steve Keating would say, stick with us, we will take care of you. I miss you already, Barbara — I’m still in denial. My thoughts go out to Milt, Craig, Jade and all of her family.
Poplar Grove, Illinois
It was always a treasured moment to show our Toy Fox Terriers to Barbara because she grew up with them and always shared memories of special times with them. Such a fine gal who will be remembered fondly forever.
St. Stephens Church, Virginia
I go a long way back with Barbara, not as long as with George. First we were great friends with George as we showed in Michigan and the Midwest in the early ’60s. Later we were close with both Barbara and George when they came south to show and also later to judge. One of my finest memories was judging their son in one of the first Top Southern Junior Handling classes. He was the Best in The South that year.
The moments that Barbara and I always talked about were the many dinners and especially the breakfasts that the four of us had together on so many panels. Barbara and I rolling our eyes at George and Bob as they talked — or rather George talking and Bob saying, “Shut up, George.”
What fun we had. Unfortunately, they are gone now and also a great part of our dog-show history. But what a wonderful time the three are having in Heaven.
Valley Center, California
She was one of the few all-breed judges who understood correct Collie expression. I didn’t discover her until 2014, when a friend, John Buddie (who mentored her in Collies), encouraged me to show to her. She put my BBE bitch all the way to BOV over specials. She was so nice. She asked me if I knew John Buddie. When I answered in the affirmative, she told me he would love the bitch’s beautiful face. She was such a nice lady. I went on to show under her many times after that. Loved talking to her. She was such a class act, always dressed to the nines and, most importantly, she knew her dogs. I always found her to be fair and impartial. Hearing of her death was so shocking. She’s someone you just thought was going to be around forever, as she always looked so fabulous. Her passing is a huge loss to purebred dogs and I’m not the only who feels this way … I don’t think I have ever seen so many wonderful tributes on Facebook … like, ever. I hope she knew how beloved and respected she was. She is going to be so missed …
Port St. Lucie, Florida
During the years my wife and I were actively showing, our handler was George Heitzman. Most of that time Barb was still living in Pennsylvania, but, for obvious reasons, we got to know her very well. I can tell you that when George passed, my wife and I did not handle that very well. I do not have a favorite specific memory of Barb but rather the fact that she was always so kind. It was common for us to go to dinner together when we were on the same judging panel. Prior to George’s death, it was common for all three of us to do so. I often referred to Barb as the dog game’s version of Sara Lee … “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.” Her presence both in and out of the ring will be missed.
Cranford, New Jersey
Many years ago, at a judges institute in Pennsylvania, I was signed up for the Toy Group. Barbara was the presenter for Maltese, and she did a fabulous presentation. However, there was one problem … the people bringing the dogs never showed up. You would think that would present a problem, wouldn’t you? Not for Barbara. One of our classmates the evening before had won a pair of Maltese slippers in our evening games, and when those slippers showed up Barbara carried on like they were the two best Maltese she had ever seen! That class was the most fun and we always laughed about it years later!
I had some really exciting wins under Barbara, including finishing first Bred-by Bitch and going Winners Dog and Best of Winners at the 2014 PWD National. But one of things I remember the most about her was how caring and thoughtful she was.
At the time I was working for Google at the Mountain View, California, main campus. Google has several campuses up and down the peninsula from Mountain View all the way up to San Francisco. One of them is the Youtube Campus, which was about 45 minutes away in San Bruno (really close to the SFO Airport).
One afternoon there was an active shooter on the Youtube campus, and they had put all of us on lockdown to be safe. About 15 minutes into lockdown, the mainstream news reported on the shooter. As I was sitting at my desk, my phone started ringing; I looked to see who was calling, and it was no one other than the amazing Barbara Dempsey Alderman.
I answered the phone and I could hear the concern in her voice. "Remy, are you OK? I just saw on the news there is some crazy person with a gun out there on the campus."
I was so touched that she thought of me. I assured her I was OK, and it was at another campus about 45 minutes away from me, but they had us on lockdown anyway to be safe.
"Oh, OK, I just wanted to make sure you were OK," she said. She was so thoughtful to call and check on me, but that was just the kind of person she was. I just loved her, and I will just like the rest of us miss her terribly. She was such a light, and a true icon in our sport.
David K. Qualls, DVM
I first met Barbara at her wedding to George (Heitzman), in probably 1972 or '73, just as I was beginning college. I owned my first Siberian Husky at that time and George was campaigning the number-one Siberian, Ch. Fra-Mar's Nikolai Diavol, for my newly found friends in the breed, Dan and Leslie Haggard. We were invited to a small, intimate affair at the beautiful home of one of George's clients, a very nice lady with Pugs named Leona (her last name escapes me at the moment). Leslie had told me how sweet Barbara was (something of a contrast to my dear friend George), and I have always been proud to call both Barbara and George dear friends for these past 50 years.
While George was certainly my greatest breed and dog-show mentor, Barbara was always a tempering influence in his life, and it was interesting to watch her influence on him over the next 30 years. I was so proud to see both of them go on to judging and accomplish so much in our little world of purebred dogs, and I treasure each and every memory of this wonderful couple. Barbara had class, style and a history no longer common to our sport, and she will be missed. Rest peacefully, my friend.
Charlie Olvis and Liz Muthard
Lake Wales, Florida
Just wanted to say we loved Barbara and loved judging with her. Great lady.
Sandy Hook, Connecticut
I have many fond memories from my handler days. A very conscientious judge, very polite in the ring and truly loved the dogs. My best memories are from when I started judging. In the beginning I was nervous: traveling, judging, worrying about getting to the hotel, etc. Barbara seemed to be on some of my early assignments. She really guided me through what to do and what not to do. Very helpful when choosing assignments. Later on we also seemed to be on many panels together. Those times were fun! We got to know each other, and I even got to know George before he passed away. We laughed, joked around and even gossiped. One of my favorite people and I will truly miss her energy, her smile, her jokes and her many, many stories ...
Clayton, North Carolina
Barbara was a joy. Always pleasant and generous with helpful advice. We recently received a complimentary phone call from her that was yet another example of her kindness.
We had the great honor to share the experience of finishing the first coated Xoloitzcuintli champion anywhere in the world, in any internationally recognized registry, Ch. Azuwyn's Aint Miss B Havin'.
Any compliment from Barbara was personally uplifting. Any recognition of your dog was taken as a legitimate reaffirmation you were on the right track with your breeding program. She was a wonderful, classy, accomplished example of an excellent judge who cared about the quality of dogs.
Her smile brightened our day. Her laughter was heartwarming. Her recognition of our girl was a highlight of my career in the dog sport.
A true lady, always with a great smile and cute shoes.
Wesley Chapel, Florida
Of course it would be the warm, wonderful and talented dog person that she was. But more to the point is an unforgettable meal a friend and I had with her and George Heitzman in Gainesville, Florida, in the early ’80s. As you might know, George was quite a character, and he began telling stories on Barbara. That little lady gave it right back to him. Each had a tale about the other that stands out.
George told about going out for dinner in New York City one Westminster. He made reservations at a very swanky place and arrived first. Barbara was tending to dog things and came in later straight from the show and with her armband on!
Some time afterward, Barbara told us very straight-faced that George was going to have to have “brain” surgery. My nurse friend and I were caught off guard and very concerned. Then she explained he had hemorrhoids and was having a procedure.
We laughed the whole evening, and people in the restaurant were drifting by to see what all the fuss was about.
She will be missed.
Arthur, Ontario, Canada
Barbara loved Matisse (GCHP Claircreek Impression De Matisse). She would always ask about him when we met at shows and want to hear how he was doing. She called me when he passed away early this year. She was a wonderful judge for our beloved breed and such a wonderful, strong person. We will miss her greatly.
Eva and Ken Berg
As exhibitors we always enjoyed showing our Dalmatians to Barbara. Fun and spirited, always with a smile.
As a fellow judge, she added sparkle to the assembled judging panel, and we always looked forward to seeing her.
Our favorite memory is giving her a pair of groovy John Lennon sunglasses to complete her Woofstock Best in Show outfit. While entering the ring to judge BIS, she danced to the music, to the delight of everyone. We will miss her dearly.
New Hudson, Michigan
My constant memory of Barbara is how her enthusiasm for every dog put in front of her was reflected as pure joy radiating from her. Every Handler was made to feel special and she recognized every dog as a worthy individual. All the better if a spirited pup could make her laugh, as our boisterous Bouvier des Flandres, Poirot, did at the 2011 Westminster Kennel Club show.
Margaret “Meg” Ryan
What a loss to the fancy. Such a classy lady, and a true joy to show to, too — she somehow managed to give you every bit of her attention while keeping the ring running on time. She and a few others were my go-to judges for puppies — not because I think I will win, because I knew the puppies would have a great time. Miss you, Barbara.
She was such a sweet lady. I don’t ever remember her being discourteous to anybody. May she rest in peace forever.
A very classy judge! A Group 3 placement in a very nice Non-Sporting group. A comment of a very nice example of the breed (French Bulldog). Always pleasant in the ring! Everyone gets the time in the ring. Thank you, Barbara Alderman!
What a wonderful lady to talk to – she had so many stories of "THE GOOD OLD DAYS."
Since so many of us have been around for more than 40 years, it was fun to listen to her reminisce and laugh about some of the "goings-on." She will be missed.
William Miller (and Kenny Saenz)
Her electric smile! Timeless. For more than 40 years of my life, one thing was certain: Each time that I saw Barbara, her smile lit up like a Christmas tree.
In the early 1990s, I remember Kenny showing a young class bitch to her. Her registered name was Bayard She's Gone Country, and we called her Loretta. As Kenny took her off the table, he said, "Let's go, Loretta!" Barbara started laughing, and we didn't know why she was smiling and laughing so hard.
When we were having a picture taken, Barbara told us "Loretta" was also the name of her daughter-in-law and she was very glad we had named a beautiful one "Loretta." For the rest of the weekend, she hummed the tune "She's Gone Country" and laughed.
Certainly, everyone has fond memories of Barbara. We have many. The dog world has lost the brightest smile.