From the June 2019 Issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe.
Compromises, Challenges, Choices
Compromise: an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.
Choice: an act or instance of choosing, a selection.
Challenges: difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it.
Life is full of compromises, choices, and challenges, whether you are a judge, an exhibitor or a breeder. All three go hand in hand especially when it comes to the wonderful world of French Bulldogs.
We as judges and breeders need to understand and be able to define type within each breed to excel at both and be successful. One great compliment to receive as a judge is, “You judge as if you were a breeder”. If I can identify the three hallmarks of a breed I feel blessed. The standard is a blueprint we are given to follow to try and achieve perfection; each breed has one and is its holy grail. One sentence I find speaks for generations is to “put a dog on a fence in the moonlight and you should know what breed it is”. What truer words could be spoken, and they remain timeless. In silhouette you can see the essence of the breed quickly, and as they move around you can follow the smooth symphony of “S” curves that make a French Bulldog what it is, and sets it apart from all other breeds.
We are unique as a breed and have many challengers from both the place of a breeder and a judge. So many times I hear negative comments for judges not understanding or applying the basic fundamentals during their judging process. One must remember that a judge has an average of two minutes to asses a dogs virtues in each exhibit. A judge’s priorities may be different from the exhibitors.
As a breeder we also have our blueprint, but so much will be defined by how we interpret that standard, and then how we apply that to the decisions, compromises and challengers we will be faced with. You might say that is not a correct statement, but it is indeed. Even though we might purchase or have breed what we consider to be the “perfect example”, that does not always hold true. Breeding is a slow process and keeping that in mind of where do we cut our losses, or do we decide to breed with our hearts or our heads. It is a dangerous distinction to hold.
We hold judge’s decisions on such a high and now very public stand that Social Media has accelerated both praise and criticism on that final point or nod. We are too fast to criticize especially not knowing or understanding what compromises ones priorities a judge may have made. We would think that with a Standard it would be easy, but not always. Stand in the shoes of a judge for a day and I think you might have a new respect for the quick and thorough decisions one must make, especially when it is not a breed they have possibly spent each waking minute with over many years. That is what a breeder judge and exhibitor brings to the table, or so I would hope.
I stand in all three places, I am in the whelping box, in the ring as an exhibitor and as a judge. We pick the best of what we have each time! In the whelping box I choose what I hope to be the best dog to represent my breed, I will then show what I consider to be the best dog for the day and as a judge I hope to pick the best dog on the day that will be exhibited to me. In all three situations we are faced with compromises, choices and challenges.
Without type what do we have? Type is truly the soul; no type, no soul. When a breed is as popular as the French Bulldog you see quality and type to be very varying so our job as a judge can become complicated and filled with compromises.
Remember these three things and you will succeed.
Silhouette—outline. Ours is very unique and specific. Remember, on a fence in the moonlight, what do you see? You can see it all here. Topline, head in profile, but most important, balance. An analogy I often use when I find someone not grasping our top lines is the following “How would you feel about a flat backed Bedlington Terrier? The light bulb moment is then apparent. Of course we are not close to the extremes of a Bedlingtons topline, but it is a visual to help understand the importance of the correct outline. No topline, no Frenchie !
Head—Bat ears. Nothing out of balance, square head, good upturn, dark eye. Expression.
Movement—When you have a specific body shape, broad front with heavy bone, not too tall not too short, we are not a Bulldog or a Boston Terrier. Our shape will dictate how we move: four tracking, free and vigorous, with reach and drive.
As breeders and judges we face challenges that we must work with and around. We must be proactive to promote and protect our beloved breeds that we hold close to our hearts.
Each of us holds separate abilities in both breeding and judging. One thing we must not forget is we are all teachers and students, as we never stop learning and we need to always reach out and educate.
I remember before I started to judge I asked Mrs. Anne Rogers Clark for some words of wisdom that I could use in my new venture. She said to me “Don’t leave your common sense at home.” Words I hold close and realize, that they are interchangeable with judging, exhibiting and breeding.