An invitation to judge at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is extended to very few AKC-licensed judges. This year, the honor is bestowed on 38 individuals from 19 states. They will select the best of the 185 breeds and varieties currently recognized by the nation’s oldest purebred dog registry.

Mrs. Cindy Vogels of Greenwood Village, CO, heads this year’s panel. On Tuesday night, she will award Best in Show before a packed house at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden.

To determine which dogs are sent into Mrs. Vogels’ ring, seven exceptionally qualified men and women will each judge one of the seven recognized Groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding. Their winners will have one chance to make a first – and final – impression.


W. Terry Stacy of Chapel Hill, NC

Mr. W. Terry Stacy (All photographs courtesy WKC)

W. Terry Stacy is licensed to judge the Sporting, Hound, Terrier and Toy Groups, as well as Boxers. He’s officiated at shows worldwide and at this country’s most prestigious events including Westminster, Morris and Essex, and the American Spaniel Club. Mr. Stacy has been president, show chairman and an officer in several all-breed and national breed clubs. This is his third assignment at Westminster.

He purchased a Cocker Spaniel in 1952 and began showing as a junior handler. He bred Cockers and eventually became kennel manager for the Downsbraugh Kennels of Mr. and Mrs. William Brainard. He enjoyed a successful 15-year career as a professional handler before going to work for MBF Dog Shows as a superintendent.

In 1995 he retired from the American Kennel Club as senior vice president. Among his AKC accomplishments are founding the Judges Institute, completing the breed video program and overseeing reformatting of the breed standards. He was named Dogdom’s Man of The Year for 1994.

Mr. Stacy lives in Chapel Hill with his wife, Jackie, and their small kennel of Affenpinschers. They’ve produced National Specialty winners and seven all-breed BIS Affens (with over 100 BISs), including the top-winning Affenpinscher in breed history.


Patricia W. Laurans of Newtown, CT

Ms. Patricia W. Laurans

Patricia Laurans has been active in the dog show world since 1963, first as a Doberman Pinscher exhibitor and then as an all-breed handler. Her Laurwyn German Wirehaired Pointers have won four National Specialties and produced three Best in Show winners.

For 30 years, she served as an AKC delegate and was elected to AKC Board of Directors in 1996. She currently chairs the AKC Parent Club Committee.

Ms. Laurans is a founding director of Take the Lead, a charitable organization that assists individuals in the sport of purebred dogs who are suffering with a terminal or life-threatening illness.

A licensed judge since 1982, this is her 12th Westminster assignment; she judged the Herding Group in 1996 and the Working Group in 2006.


Betty Regina Leininger of Frisco, TX

Ms. Betty Regina Leininger

Betty Regina Leininger began breeding and exhibiting German Shepherd Dogs in her home in Newfoundland, Canada. In 1971 she moved to the United States and became an AKC-licensed professional handler.

She became a judge in 1983 and is today licensed to judge all Working, Toy and Non-Sporting breeds, Pointers, Whippets, Junior Showmanship and Best in Show.

Ms. Leininger has judged multiple National Specialties and Top Twenty events, including the Doberman Pinscher Club of America and DPCA Top Twenty on three occasions. Her judging has taken her to numerous countries in Asia, South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and her native Canada.

She co-founded the Newfoundland (all-breed) Kennel Club in 1962 and has been active in many kennel clubs over the years. This is her fifth Westminster assignment; she judged the Non-Sporting Group in 2004.


William F. Potter II of St. Louis, MO

Mr. William F. Potter

William F. Potter has been an AKC judge since 1990, and is now approved to judge the Hound and Terrier Groups, Toy Manchester Terriers and Best in Show. He’s judged throughout the United States as well as internationally and has served the American Fox Terrier Club as president, secretary, governor and show chairman. He continues to be active in the Mississippi Valley Kennel Club, presently serving as secretary and show chairman.

Mr. Potter started showing purebred dogs in 1968 after acquiring his first Irish Wolfhound as a college graduation present from his wife. He found success breeding, showing, and handling Irish Wolfhounds and became active with Smooth Fox Terriers in 1976.

As a breeder-owner-handler of Smooth Fox Terriers, he was responsible for a number of Group and specialty winning exhibits. He has also owned and bred Norwich Terriers. This is his third Westminster assignment.


Timothy Catterson of New Castle, IN

Mr. Timothy Catterson

Timothy Catterson has been an AKC-licensed judge for over 25 years. He’s approved for the Toy Group, 18 Hound breeds and Dalmatians. He’s judged Toy dogs in Australia, China, Russia and South Africa, and has judged at the breed level at Westminster on two previous occasions.

He’s been involved in the sport of purebred dogs since 1974 when he purchased his first Italian Greyhound. Toy dogs have always been his passion. He bred Pugs while in high school and the military, and Italian Greyhounds and Chihuahuas during the 1980s. One of his Evergreen Italian Greyhounds has won the National Specialty.

He’s currently president of the Italian Greyhound Club of America and past chairman of the National Specialty. He serves as president of two kennel clubs in Muncie and Anderson, where he has been the show chair for the past 15 years. He’s past president of the Kokomo Kennel club, vice president and past delegate of the Marion Kennel club, and has served the Indiana Pug and Pomeranian clubs in many capacities. 


Randy Garren of Apex, NC

Mr. Randy Garren

Randy Garren used his lawn-mowing money at the age of 12 to purchase his first dog, a Toy Poodle. From that moment, his enjoyment of the sport and purebred dogs has never waned.

He’s bred over 60 champions of his own, and as a professional handler, he and his partner, Dennis McCoy, finished about 1,000 champions, won more than 500 Best in Shows and captured a Best in Show and seven Group Firsts at Westminster. Their top winners were two Standard Poodles – one was the top-winning Non-Sporting dog in history, CH Lake Cove’s That’s My Boy, and the other was CH Whisperwind On A Carousel, Best in Show at Westminster in 1991. They also showed the top-winning Dalmatian in breed history.

Mr. Garren was co-breeder of the 2009 Westminster Non-Sporting Group winner. He began judging in 2000 and is now licensed for the Non-Sporting, Toy and Hound Groups, Best in Show, Junior Showmanship, and most of the Terrier breeds. This is his third Westminster assignment.


Houston Clark of Decatur, TN

Mr. Houston Clark

Houston Clark began judging in 1987 after his retirement as a handler. He is currently licensed to judge the Sporting, Hound, Working, Toy and Herding Groups, as well as Toy and Standard Manchester Terriers, Junior Showmanship and Best in Show. He’s judged at top shows all over the world and at a number of National Specialties. This is his fourth Westminster assignment; he judged the Sporting Group in 1998.

Mr. Clark began his career in dogs as a hobby in the 1950s. He owned and showed several German Shepherd Dogs in obedience and conformation, and eventually was licensed by the AKC to handle all breeds beginning in the early 1960s. He was an all-breed professional handler for more than 25 years, handling top-winning dogs in all seven Groups.

He’s bred German Shepherd Dogs, Miniature Pinschers, Doberman Pinschers and Pembroke Welsh Corgis. He’s a member of the American Dog Show Judges Association, a former officer and retired member of the Professional Handlers Association, and is on the advisory committee for AKC Registered Handlers. He also is a member of several local dog clubs.

He was named “Dogdom’s Handler of the Year” in 1985.

Information provided by the Westminster Kennel Club.

Click here for our entire coverage.

Click here to relive the excitement of Westminster in photo galleries.