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Westminster: Meet Your Breed Judges

It’s less than 24 hours away, the “granddaddy” of the dog show fancy, Westminster Kennel Club is about to welcome everyone to their old & new locations. With an eye for providing easy-to-access Judge’s information, Best In Show Daily with the help of WKC & AKC, have put together a who’s who of the Judges this year. It’s a wonderful resource to help our audience get to know the judges that will make the decisions on who advances and who goes home with a happy memory of being there.


MS. JANET ALLEN of Point Reyes Station, CA has been involved in the sport since 1975 as a breeder-owner-handler and, since 1990, as a judge. She was successful in Chow Chows under the Tai Yang prefix with multiple champions, including BIS and BISS winners. Ms. Allen also became involved with other Oriental breeds — Pekingese, Shih Tzu and Japanese Chins. As partner in Sing Lee Pekingese, she finished over 50 champions and owner-handled Pugs, Papillons, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, and a BIS Norwegian Elkhound. Licensed for Toy and Non Sporting groups, she has judged in the US as well as internationally. She is active in local all-breed and specialty clubs. 
This is her first Westminster assignment.

MR. RICHARD G. (RICK) BEAUCHAMP of Cambria, CA has been involved in purebred dogs since childhood as breeder, exhibitor, judge, author, and lecturer.  He bred and showed some of the Bichon Frise breed’s all time top winners and producers under his Beau Monde prefix. He has bred top-winning Bichon Frises, Doberman Pinschers, Boxers and Papillons, and champions in a number of other breeds. Mr. Beauchamp has judged in Europe, Australia, Mexico, Asia, South Africa, Canada, and South America. He has judged at the famed Crufts dog show in the United Kingdom. He judges the Non Sporting, Sporting, and Toy Groups as well as many breeds throughout the other 4 Variety Groups. This is his third Westminster assignment.

MR. AL BIANCHI of Chesapeake, VA is a breeder of Shetland Sheepdogs and was first approved as a judge in 1990. He has approval to judge Best In Show, the Herding and Non-Sporting Groups, several Hound, Working and Toy breeds, and Junior Showmanship. He is a member of the Tidewater Kennel Club and a Life Member of the American Shetland Sheepdog Association, having held numerous positions in each, including President and Show Chairman. He also is a member of the Tidewater Virginia Stewards Association. This is his first Westminster assignment.

MRS. LIZ BIANCHI of Chesapeake, VA has been a breeder and exhibitor of Shetland Sheepdogs for more than 30 years. She has judging approval for Shelties, Collies, Australian Shepherds, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and all-breed JS. Prior to embarking on the judging path, she exhibited her own dogs and was a handler for Shelties and Collies. Success in her breed includes the completion of many Championships with the highlight of winning the national specialty as breeder/owner/handler. Mrs. Bianchi is a member of the Tidewater Kennel Club, Chesapeake Virginia Dog Fanciers Association, the American Shetland Sheepdog Association, and the Tidewater Virginia Stewards Association. This is her first Westminster assignment.

MR. EDD E. BIVIN of Fort Worth, TX acquired his first purebred dog at the age of 12, a Pomeranian bitch that introduced him to the sport of dogs and led to breeding and exhibiting top-winning Pomeranians. He started judging at matches at the age of 15, and was approved to judge Pomeranians at championship point shows in the US in 1961. He presently is approved to judge all sporting, working, terrier, toy, and non-sporting breeds, and several herding and hound breeds. He has judged at many shows in the United States and abroad, including Best In Show at Westminster in 1999. This will be his 20th Westminster assignment (his first was in 1970), a number that puts him in select company with legendary dog people such as Anne Rogers Clark (23), Melbourne Downing (22), Alva Rosenberg (21) and Anna Katherine Nicholas (20). Mr. Bivin served for 32 years as an administrator and Vice Chancellor at Texas Christian University, before retiring in 2003. He is a trustee and past chairman of the board of Take The Lead, a charitable organization for people in the sport of dogs who are suffering life threatening or critical illness or injury.

MR. ROBERT D. BLACK of Newtown, PA purchased his first West Highland White Terrier 45 years ago as a pet. He went to a local show and thought he could do this too with his new Westie, and this started a long history of showing and eventually breeding Westies. Ten years ago he had an opportunity to acquire a Lakeland Terrier and now he has four Lakies. Mr. Black has been judging since 2002. He has judged Westies at Westminster, and the Lakeland national specialty show at Montgomery County Kennel Club. He has judged terrier specialties in Australia, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Brazil, Japan and South Africa. This is his second Westminster assignment.

MR. TIM CATTERSON of New Castle, IN began exhibiting Italian Greyhounds in the mid-1970s and has bred and finished many champions. He was the top breeder of Chihuahuas in 1981 and bred Pugs as far back as 1964. He has judged since the late 1980s and is approved for the Toy Group, Hound group, several other breeds, Juniors, and Best in Show. He has judged all over the world, including in Russia, Africa, and Asia. Mr. Catterson is a past president of the Italian Greyhound Club of America, and active in several all-breed and specialty clubs, serving in a variety of roles. He has served as a trustee for Take the Lead since 1994. This is his fourth Westminster assignment.

MR. JAMES COVEY of Southport, NC first got involved in the sport of dogs in the mid- 1960s as a teenager working for a small Irish Setter kennel. He learned how to groom and show, and walked in the ring as a handler for the first time in 1967. In 1969, Mr. Covey purchased an English Cocker, starting the Aberschan breeding program which over the years featured a number of top winners and producers. Mr. Covey’s judging career started in 1980 and today he is approved for all Sporting dogs, Norfolk and Norwich Terriers and Best in Show. Professionally Mr. Covey is a semi-retired, self-employed court reporter. This is his second Westminster assignment.

MS. PLUIS DAVERN of Royal Oaks, CA purchased a Golden Retriever in the late 1960s. Training her led to a lifetime in obedience and field competition, and eventually to breeding and showing. As a professional handler and trainer, she put many conformation, obedience and field titles on her own and client dogs. Later, she handled her own Sussex Spaniels, with three of them winning multiple Bests In Show. She bred the first Master Hunter and then the only BIS Master Hunter in the breed. Ms. Davern was the recipient of the 2011 AKC Breeder of the Year award and also Dog Fancy’s 2011 Trainer of the Year for her work in producing more than a 135 disaster search and rescue dogs. An international judge, this is her second Westminster assignment.

MRS. CHRISTINE ERICKSON of Gilbert, AZ is a native of California and a second-generation dog person. She began over 35 years ago with Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. Ms. Erickson has also bred Smooth Fox Terriers, Welsh Terriers, and Miniature Wire Dachshunds. Mrs. Erickson began judging over ten years ago, and now judges the Terrier Group and Dachshunds. She has judged the National Specialty for Wire Dachshunds, Bedlington Terriers at the Montgomery Terrier Show, and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers at Morris & Essex. Mrs. Erickson retired from AT&T where she was a Human Resource Director. This is her first assignment at Westminster.

MS. BARBARA A. FINCH of Flat Rock, NC bought her first Newfoundland in 1972 that became the foundation bitch for Tuckamore. She went on to breed the winners of the 1985 and 1987 National Specialties. She has been a member of the Newfoundland Club of America since 1973, has served on the Board of Directors and is presently chairman of the Technical Resources Committee. Ms. Finch is Show Chairman for the Hendersonville Kennel Club and the Asheville Kennel Club. She is approved to judge 19 breeds in the Working Group and has judged in Norway, Sweden, Hungary, Italy and Denmark, and two Newfoundland Club of America National Specialties. This is her first Westminster assignment.

MRS. JEAN HETHERINGTON of Oxford, NC has been breeding Bulldogs since 1964 using the prefix, Hetherbull. Hetherbull has had over 100 Bulldog champions, including multiple Best In Show, National Best of Breed, Group and Specialty winners. Two years in a row a Hetherbull dogs won the most Non-Sporting Groups and one still holds the breed record for Best In Shows. Mrs. Hetherington was the Kennel Review owner-handler of the year in 1989 and AKC’s Non-Sporting Breeder of the year in 2009. Hetherbull bred, owned and trained the first Champion UD Bulldog. She has also co-owned and/or bred over 15 Chow Chow champions, including a five time National Best of Breed winner, and several other breeds. This is her first Westminster assignment.

MRS. SANDRA PRETARI HICKSON of San Bruno, CA began in the dog show world with Akitas, but for the last 12 years has bred Dandie Dinmont Terriers under the King’s Mtn. prefix.  She is the show chairman of Skyline Dog Fanciers of San Mateo County, and assistant show chairman of Del Valle Dog Club of Livermore, the two shows that combine to be the Harvest Moon Classic.  Mrs. Hickson is an animal services specialist for the City of Palo Alto, Animal Services Division, a position she has held for 20 years.  This is her first Westminster assignment.

MR. DOUG HOLLOWAY, JR. of Newark, DE grew up receiving an education in dogs from my parents, who were in the handling and boarding business. He worked for a number of top professional handlers and eventually became a licensed handler in the early 70s. He began his own handling and boarding business in 1976. He handled many top winners in his professional career, including the Standard Schnauzer Ch. Parsifal Di Casa Netzer, who was #1 dog all breeds in 1995 and captured Best In Show at Westminster in 1996. Today, continuing his family tradition, he and his wife own and operate a boarding and grooming kennel. This is his first Westminster assignment.

DR. ROBERT INDEGLIA of Naragansett, RI is a cardiothoracic surgeon, a native New Englander, and a second generation dog show person. He served as chief of cardiac surgery at several private hospitals in Providence and also led one of the most active cardiovascular and thoracic surgery practices in New England. Dr. Indeglia’s activities in purebred dogs began in childhood, showing his parents’ Cocker Spaniels. He became involved with Norwegian Elkhounds in 1960 and subsequently bred 40 litters and finished more than 50 champions. He has shown and owned Boxers, Irish Setters, Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. He began judging in 1971 and is licensed to judge the Sporting, Hound, Working and Non-Sporting Groups. This is his tenth Westminster judging assignment, including Best In Show in 2007, the same year that his beloved Boston Red Sox won the World Series.

MR. MARK KENNEDY of Murrysville, PA is a 35-year veteran AKC judge, and was one of the youngest judges to be approved by the AKC at the age of 24. His original breed is Bulldogs, which he bred and showed with success. He has finished over 20 Bulldog champions which included a dog that he handled into the top ten rankings with limited showing. He received the George M. Beckett Memorial Award for one of his dogs that produced five champions and an AKC commemorative medallion and certificate for judging 25 years.

DR. RICHARD MEEN of Toronto, Ontario, Canada became actively involved with purebred dogs in 1965 with the purchase of his first Afghan Hound. He then went on to breed and exhibit Borzoi, Skye Terriers, Harriers, Italian Greyhounds, French Bulldogs, Old English Sheepdogs, Scottish Deerhounds and Doberman Pinschers under the prefix Kishniga. His homebred Borzoi was top dog All Breeds in Canada in 1977, and he bred and co-owned the top Terrier in Canada in 2011 – a Skye Terrier. Dr. Meen is past President and Chairman of the Board of the Canadian Kennel Club. He is active in many dog organizations in Canada and the U.S., and judges all over the world. Dr. Meen practices psychiatry in Toronto. He has judged at Westminster on three other occasions, including the Terrier Group in 2007.

DR. ELLIOTT L. MORE of Deerfield, NH has attended every Westminster show since 1968, except for his four years in veterinary college. A Montreal native, his first show dog was a Golden Retriever that he piloted to its championship and UDT title in Canada. He worked as an apprentice handler while completing his degree in genetics at McGill University shortly before receiving the last all-breed handler’s license given by the AKC in 1977. In 1989, he was approved by the AKC to judge the Sporting Group and then returned to Canada to attend veterinary school. Dr. More owns a busy veterinary practice in New Hampshire and judges the Sporting and Working Groups. This is his third Westminster assignment.

VIRGINIA MURRAY of Island Lake, IL began judging in 2005 after retiring from a career of professional handling that spanned almost 35 years. Ms. Murray began exhibiting English Springer Spaniels in 1973 in Canada.  She moved to Chicago in 1974 and worked for professional handlers for several years, showing primarily English Springer Spaniels, English Cockers and Silky Terriers. In 1979, she became part of a professional handling business, and over the years enjoyed great success with many top winners in several Groups. In the 1980s, she became a fan of a new breed, Portuguese Water Dogs, and today, shares her life with two of her own. This is her first Westminster assignment.

SHARON NEWCOMB of Santa Fe, NM is a native Texan and has been in dogs for about 50 years as a breeder, owner-handler, professional handler, trainer (obedience and one field trial lab), and AKC conformation judge. Mrs. Newcomb has bred or owned several breeds, and has owned or handled a number of BIS and National Specialty winners. She has given seminars on a number of breeds and has judged in England, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, China, Korea and Sweden. She has judged the Papillon National Specialty in four countries. She is licensed to judge all Toys, all Herding, and some breeds in all the other groups. This is her second Westminster assignment.

MR. DAVID PEAT of Scottsdale, AZ has been active in the dog show world for almost 40 years. He successfully bred and handled primarily Dachshunds during his years as a practicing attorney in Minnesota. He also was active in Parent, Specialty and All-Breed Clubs, serving as an officer and show chair at all three levels. Currently retired in Arizona, Mr. Peat continues his involvement in club activities while currently breeding and exhibiting Affenpinschers on a selective basis. He began his judging career almost 20 years ago and has judged across the US, in Australia, and Italy. This is his first Westminster assignment.

MRS. PAMELA PEAT of Scottsdale, AZ became actively involved in the show dog world in the 70’s as a breeder of Dachshunds and is currently breeding and exhibiting Affenpinschers. While raising a family and becoming a Reproductive Endocrinology Nurse Practitioner she also was active in all breed and specialty dog clubs in multiple capacities. In addition, Mrs. Peat participated in performance events. Her judging career began in the early 1990’s. She currently judges Hounds, Toys and Terriers. She has judged in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia, Italy, Canada and the U.S. This is her first Westminster assignment.

MR. KEN RAYNER, JR. of Hamilton, NJ has been involved in dogs for 50 years, beginning as a licensed assistant at the age of 15, working for his father, Ken Rayner, Sr. He specialized in German Shepherd Dogs, finishing over 400 champions, primarily at Specialties and Nationals. He and his wife then started Jaken Kennel in the mid-1970s, breeding and showing Pomeranians. After showing dogs to BIS and Group wins in other breeds, he retired from handling. He started judging in 2002 and now is licensed for the Herding Group and additional Toy and Working breeds. Mr. Rayner is the show chair and board member for the Delaware Valley Toy Dog Fanciers show. This is his first Westminster assignment.

MRS. KNOWLTON (NONIE) REYNDERS of Newbury, NH has been breeding Norwich Terriers for 50 years, continuing her mother’s original line. She first exhibited them in 1984 and continues to finish her dogs out of the Bred By Exhibitor classes. An AKC Terrier judge since 1999, she serves as secretary of The Westchester Kennel Club and is a member of the Ladies Dog Club and the Norwich Terrier Club of America. She and her husband recently retired to New Hampshire to be close to children and grandchildren in the Boston area. Mrs. Reynders is working toward earning her Master Gardener’s degree. She enjoys keeping bees, stream fishing in the summer, and skiing in the winter. This is her first Westminster assignment.

HELEN WINSKI STEIN of Chapel Hill, NC purchased her first Afghan Hound in 1974 and has been involved with the breed ever since. Her love of her dogs led to her involvement in dog shows, dog clubs, and eventually to judging; she is approved to judge all Hounds, all Toys and all Non Sporting dogs. She is a past board member of the Afghan Hound Club of America and is the club’s Historian. She and her husband live with two Afghan Hounds and one Affenpinscher. This is her first Westminster assignment.

MR. ROBERT STEIN of Chapel Hill, NC purchased his first Afghan Hound more than 50 years ago and it led him to competitive successes and a productive breeding program in the dog show world. He eventually joined select dog show company as an All Breed judge. He has judged in most states and many foreign countries, and is a member and past president of a number of dog organizations. A native of Dayton, OH, and a graduate of The Ohio State University, Mr. Stein is a retired Architect and Real Estate Developer, an Emeritus member of the American Institute of Architects. This is his ninth Westminster assignment, which includes the Hound Group in 1988 and the Working Group in 2002.

DR. DONALD STURZ, JR. of Huntington, NY began his involvement with the sport of dogs in 1969 along with his family, and exhibited at Westminster for the first time in 1972 as a junior handler. He ranked as the nation’s number one Junior Handler in 1974, 1975, and 1976. He has continued to exhibit actively in conformation events and has bred, owned and handled all-breed and specialty Best in Show winners in a number of breeds. Dr. Sturz began judging in 1990 and he has judged at prestigious dog events internationally. This is his eighth Westminster assignment, including judging the Hound Group in 2006 and the Sporting Group in 2010.

MS. BONNIE P. THRELFALL of Cary, NC grew up “in dogs” showing her father’s Labradors in conformation, obedience, and Junior Showmanship. She also owned an Irish Water Spaniel who was the great-grandmother of Irishtocrat, Westminster 1979 Best In Show winner. She has bred English Cocker Spaniels since 1969 under the Edgewood prefix. She was an assistant handler before becoming a professional handler herself. Ms. Threlfall judges all Sporting and Hound breeds and 15 breeds in the remaining five groups. She has judged five National Specialties, the AKC National Championship show, an FCI show in Sweden, and had the honor of awarding C.C.s to her breed in England. This is her second Westminster assignment.

MRS. SARI BREWSTER TIETJEN of Rhinebeck, NY is a second-generation dog fancier who has been involved in the sport of dogs her entire life. She has bred, raised, and exhibited 14 different breeds, and for more than 50 years has specialized in the Japanese Chin. Mrs. Tietjen has been judging all over the world since 1967 and presently judges all Sporting, Hound, Toy, and Non-Sporting breeds and groups, and half of the Terrier Group. Her career highlight was judging Best In Show at Westminster in 2009. The author of four books, with a fifth in progress, Mrs. Tietjen has been writing about the sport of purebred dogs for over 30 years and has won several awards for her writings. This is her twelfth Westminster assignment.

MRS. BEVERLY VICS of Poinciana, FL went to her first dog show in 1967 as a spectator and that led to a lifetime involvement with great success in the sport. She began showing and breeding Alaskan Malamutes in 1968 and then added Akitas in 1972. Over the years she has bred over 100 champions in the two breeds, many group dogs, and had two all breed Best-in-Show Akitas. Mrs. Vics has been an AKC license judge since 1990 and is now approved to judge Best in Show, the Working Group, several Non-Sporting breeds, Havanese, and Australian Shepherds.  Among her previous assignments was the Akita Club of America National Specialty. This is her second time judging at Westminster.

MRS. JULIE VIROSTECK of Wellsville, KS was born with a leash in her hand and has been involved with Sporting Dogs, both in the field and in the conformation ring all of her life. She is a second generation breeder/exhibitor of Cocker Spaniels, having begun her show career in junior showmanship.  She went on to become a professional handler specializing in Spaniels for over 25 years.  Mrs. Virosteck continues to breed and exhibit her own dogs under the Doggone prefix. She began judging several sporting breeds as well as junior showmanship in 1999 and has had the opportunity to judge some of the most prestigious shows all over the world. This is her first Westminster assignment.

MR. JOHN WALSH of Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland grew up with the family kennel of Rough Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs and showed his first Collie in 1976. In 1983, he was the first winner of the “Junior Handler of the Year” in Ireland, and competed at the International handling competition at Crufts in 1984. He started showing Great Danes in 1988, and now has a kennel of black, harlequin and mantle Danes. Mr. Walsh is chairman of The Rough Collie Club of Ireland and active in many other organizations. John started judging in 1989 and now judges all breeds in the Pastoral, Working, Utility and Hound Groups, and Best In Show. He has judged in 16 countries, including the U.S. This is his first Westminster assignment.

MRS. JUDY WEBB of Albuquerque, NM acquired a Basenji from a family member and soon thereafter went to a match. Her dog went third out of three, but the dog show bug had bitten. She soon began her career as a breeder of Basenjis and professional hander, traveling fulltime for 30 years.  She finished dogs of 68 different breeds with numerous Group and Best in Show awards.  As a judge for 24 years, she has officiated all over the United States and in many foreign countries. This is her second Westminster assignment.

MR. ELLIOTT WEISS of Durham, CT first attended Westminster in 1956, and then exhibited there for the first time in 1963 in what was to become the beginning of a life in dogs. He eventually became an apprentice handler in 1965 and became a professional handler in 1969, showing professionally until 1993. A native of New York state, he has owned and bred Cocker Spaniels, Clumber Spaniels, Giant Schnauzers, Pointers and English Setters. He still owns, exhibits and occasionally breeds English Setters. Mr. Weiss started judging in 1994 and is currently approved to judge five groups and a number of additional breeds. This is his ninth time on a Westminster judging panel. He judged the Terrier Group in 2004, the Sporting Group in 2008, and Best In Show in 2010.

MR. CHUCK WINSLOW of Monrovia, MD has been involved in purebred dogs for 45 years. He worked for Mrs. Vernelle Kendrick for many years, conditioning, presenting and exhibiting her many winning Poodles. Later, he bred and showed top-winning Brussels Griffons under the Bartestree prefix. Mr. Winslow judges all Toys, all Non Sporting Breeds and most Working breeds. Since 1980, he has judged all over the world, including China, Japan, South America, Italy and Scotland. Working in the field of architecture and design, his work has been featured in every major design magazine. He lives on a small farm with several Labradors, a rescued Foxhound, and a very bossy Brussels Griffon, with always at least one handsome horse in the barn. This is his first Westminster assignment.

Information provided by the Westminster Kennel Club.

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