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Handicapping the Westminster Judges

michael dougherty

Michael J. Dougherty
Best In Show Judge
2013 Westminster Kennel Club Show

Every year, for several months prior to the Westminster Kennel Club show, fanciers pore over the WKC judging assignments and attempt to assess their chances of posting a win at dodgdom’s most prestigious event. It is an exercise in futility. I am fond of saying, “Don’t bet the lunch money” on the outcome of a dog show, and that advice is never more soundly applied than February’s pilgrimage to Madison Square Garden. However, it is one of my favorite pastimes, and I share the following observations with you.

Karen Wilson, of Sperryville VA, will judge the Sporting Group this year. 2012 gave us an incredible race between two Sporting Dogs for the Number One Dog All Breeds title. Judge Wilson, who is approved for the Sporting, Hound and Terrier Groups, had the opportunity to make the GWP and the Springer her BIS, but opted for dogs in other groups. She has twice made the Springer her Sporting Group winner.

Luc Boileau, of Burlington WI, will have the Hound Group this year. While judge Boileau started out breeding and exhibiting his own Whippets, he was more closely associated with Pekingese during his professional handling career. During the last year, he has had the final ring five times and did not select a Hound for any of his BIS.

The Working Group will be in the hands of Robert Vandiver of Simpsonville SC. Judge Vandiver was a longtime breeder of Doberman Pinschers and will put up a good Doberman when he finds one. He has put up Working Dogs in two of his last four BIS assignments.

Jay Richardson, of St. Charles IL, started his lengthy career in dogs with Standard Poodles, but has handled many breeds professionally and is approved to judge the Sporting, Working and Terrier Groups. He does have the Terrier Group at the Garden this year. He has seen some of our top Terriers in the last year, but has not had the opportunity to make one a BIS in six final appearances in the last year.

Dennis McCoy, of Apex NC, is the current president of the Poodle Club of America, and has had an extraordinary career in dogs, finishing more than 1,000 champion dogs, winning more than 500 BIS  and winning five consecutive Non-Sporting Groups at Westminster as a professional handler. He and partner Randy Garren are the breeders of the 2009 Westminster Non-Sporting Group winner, CH Randeen Tristar Affirmation, who is the top winning black Poodle (all varieties) of all time.   In his three visits to the BIS ring as a judge last year, he chose a German Wirehaired Pointer, a Standard Poodle and a Rottweiler. Judge McCoy made the Pekingese, GCH CH PalaceGarden Malachy, his Group One last year at the Progressive Dog Club show, the all Toy Dog warm-up to Westminster. Malachy would go on to take the BIS at the Garden in 2012. Judge McCoy’s Group Two at the PDC was the Miniature Pinscher, GCH CH Marlex Classic Red Glare.

Florence Males, of Pleasant Hill CA, returned to her judging career after 16 years as an AKC representative. Judge Males currently has the Toy and Non-Sporting Groups, and she is assigned the Non-Sporting Group this year. Among her Group One selections for last year is the Standard Poodle, GCH CH Brighton Lakeridge Encore.

The 2013 Westminster Herding Group goes to Charles Trotter, of Carmel CA, one of our most popular judges, with 11 BIS assignments in 2012. Only one of those finals went to a Herding Dog, the German Shepherd Dog, GCH CH Babheim’s Captain Crunch, last year’s Westminster Herding Group winner.

The 2013 Westminster Kennel Club Best In Show Judge is Michael Dougherty, a second generation dog man, who has logged more than 50 years in the sport. Because judge Dougherty has not been in a final ring since June of 2011, he has not had the opportunity to pass judgment on many of our current top dogs. However, he has given a Terrier Group One to the Wire Fox Terrier, AfterAll Painting the Sky, and a Hound Group One to the Harrier, GCH CH Downhome Hitech Innovator.

While I had fun researching this year’s judges, I’m not sure I have any more insight than I did when I started. I think I’ll keep my lunch money in my pocket. And that’s today’s Back Story.

Written by

Billy Wheeler has been attending dog shows as a spectator and exhibitor for over 40 years. Billy is the man behind the popular Dog Show Poop. He is a retired management consultant who has advised multiple organizations affiliated with the AKC and the Cat Fanciers Association on business management, long range planning, customer service, and legislative matters. After 25 years of living in the big cities of New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, he now resides in his hometown of Memphis TN with his wife, Brenda, her Toy Poodle and his Cairn, Scottie, & IG. When he is not blogging, Billy can be found in the kitchen cooking, and listening to opera.