Judging the Non-Sporting Group at the 138th Westminster Kennel Club Dog show at Madison Square Garden was wonderfully exciting. The atmosphere in the Madison Square Garden arena was exhilarating for all…especially for the exhibitors, the dogs and this judge for sure.
Sean McCarthy and Tom Bradley, Westminster’s President and Show Chair in addition to Florence Foti, Director of Operations and David Frei, Director of Communications along with a highly experienced television crew, provided a great run through to make the actual judging experience as free from stress as possible allowing for good television while actually judging the dogs. I had no idea how helpful this would be until I walked onto the floor. It was in so many ways.
We were micro phoned and told that our voices would not be heard in the arena but would be on TV. I guess people were on the edge of their seats when I took the cut around together for the last time thinking that was my final order. Those in the arena did not hear the instructions given the exhibitors that I was re-arranging the dogs by size/speed order to watch them go around together without interference.
The dogs sent to the Group were excellent, indeed a tribute to the breed judges.
Eight dogs made the final cut, The Standard Poodle, The Tibetan Spaniel, The Miniature Poodle, The Dalmatian, The Bichon Frise, The Chinese Shar-Pei, The Shiba Inu, and The French Bulldog. Many left on the side were dogs I had awarded Groups to and some Best In Shows.
It was to be the white Standard Poodle’s night. GCh. Brighton Lakeridge Encore, guided by one our best handlers, the incomparable, Tim Brazier, was in a New York State of Mind… not to be denied a Group One. Flawless and oh so right, I thought.
Second to the wonderful Tibetan Spaniel, GCh. Kan Sing’s Tenzin, presented perfectly by Diego Garcia. What a showman and so very very typey. He remains one of my very favorite Non-Sporting Dogs I judged this past year.
Third to a beautiful black Miniature Poodle bitch who was new to me named GCh Bellefleet’s Living in the Fast Lane, shown to perfection by Crystal Murray. I thought she was much like the Standard Bitch in Miniature size… Elegant, refined, high stationed, beautifully boned. What a face. Well served.
And fourth to the Dalmatian, GCh Spotted Bliss Oreo Delight, handled so well by Michael Scott. That last go around advanced him to the coveted 4th place in that highly competitive group showcasing his carriage and efficiency of movement.
I must say how sad I was for Ginny Lyne that she was unable to fulfill her assignment due to health and look forward to her being back in commission soon. I was her lucky replacement. Judging the Group was such an honor and responsibility. I took it to heart and was thrilled that the Standard Poodle Bitch ended her show career with Non-Sporting Group One from me and RBIS from the esteemed Betty Leininger.
They are so right when they say. Here’s to Westminster. There’s Only One.