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Interview with Abigail (Abby) S. Patrizio – 2024 WKC Dog Show Breed Judge

Abigail (Abby) S. Patrizio

Interview with Abigail (Abby) S. Patrizio – 2024 WKC Dog Show Breed Judge

What does it mean to you personally to be invited to judge at this year’s historic Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?

Abigail (Abby) S. Patrizio: It was a thrill and a tremendous honor to be on the judging panel for the 2024 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The invitation didn’t seem real until I walked onto the green carpet to start judging. When the National Anthem was beautifully sung by Rebecca Cross, whose voice took my breath away, I got tears in my eyes and the reality hit that I was judging at Westminster. The hospitality, attention to detail, and the warmth from everyone involved made it feel like a magical fairytale.

Can you share a few comments on your various Breed assignments? Please be specific.

Abigail (Abby) S. Patrizio: As expected, the quality of dogs was the best of the best in each breed. How exciting to have to make such difficult decisions when awarding placements. I only wish that I had more of the coveted WKC rosettes and medallions to hand out.

Bullmastiffs—When the Bullmastiffs entered the ring at 8:00 a.m., I realized it was going to be a great day doing what I love to do. One after another trotted around the ring and I thought, “Wow, there are some very nice dogs to judge!” The Best of Breed dog was a stunning example of the gamekeeper’s dog who could do his job to protect against poachers. He was strong, muscular, nearly square with moderate angles, and he carried a level topline and head with correct proportions in balance with his body. While other exhibits had many of these qualities as well, this young dog stood out on the day because he had the entire package.

Rottweilers—Not many of the working breeds are shown with “pizazz,” but the Rottweilers strutted into the ring as if they owned it. What a lovely group of dogs! The quality was exceptional in both dogs and bitches. It took time and attention to detail to determine who best met the Standard of a dog who could work all day droving cattle, pulling a cart, and protecting his family and property. The Best of Breed winner was in excellent condition, both physically and mentally. He had a compact, substantial and slightly rectangular body, a head with correct expression and proportions, and strong, powerful, and effortless movement confirming his ability to work all day. There were many dogs and bitches that also exhibited similar qualities and all appeared confident, intelligent, and self-assured.

Anatolian Shepherd Dogs—While there were only three Anatolians present, they were all fine examples of a working guard dog taken off his ranch and brought to the city. All three exhibits were large, powerful, and impressive, with the Best of Breed bitch exhibiting the most attributes called for by the Breed Standard. Her proportions were correctly rectangular with good depth of body, and she is strong, muscular, and balanced. She has an intelligent expression, large skull, and strong muzzle to complement her body. All three dogs moved with the correct powerful and fluid gait and the preferred wheel carriage of their tail, professing their ability to work all day on the ranch.

Neapolitan Mastiffs—The six Neapolitan Mastiffs that arrived in the ring were certainly impressive with their “bestial appearance,” massive, imposing size, and abundance of wrinkles. The Best of Breed dog best met the description of a stocky, heavy-boned dog, rectangular in proportion, with a large, powerful head, multiple folds and wrinkles, and the distinguishing double dewlap. The other exhibits also possessed many of the Neapolitan qualities and all were presented well. While the Standard allows for just about any gait in the show ring, all exhibits were able to trot with a slow, lumbering, elastic, and powerful gait denoting their ability to do the job of protecting their property and owners.

Mastiffs—The Mastiffs entered the ring with grandeur and dignity. Their large presence with heavy bone, massive and deep bodies, large heads appearing square, and powerful movement took my breath away. The Best of Breed dog exhibited all these qualities while being slightly rectangular in proportion yet balanced with moderate angulation. He had a level topline and a massive head with correct proportions, with the height of the dog coming from his depth of body. Despite his size, he was sound and possessed the correct power and strength in his fluid movement. It was a pleasure to have such quality in a breed with so much size and mass.

Bernese Mountain Dogs—Having owned, bred, and exhibited Bernese Mountain Dogs for 35 years, it was truly an honor and pleasure to have such depth of quality presented to me at Westminster. It brought tears to my eyes to have so many lovely examples of the breed in the ring all at once. The Best of Breed bitch earned her rosette with her correct proportion of appearing square, sturdy bone and substance, feminine yet correctly built head, level topline with correct tail carriage, and her effortless movement at a slow working trot, making her capable of working on the farm and pulling a cart all day. I wish I had more rosettes to give out since many of the exhibits possessed lovely draft style breed type and movement. It was a thrill to end my day with such quality in my own breed.

What are your thoughts on the 2024 show year so far? On the months ahead?

Abigail (Abby) S. Patrizio: As a club officer, show chair, judge, breeder, and exhibitor, I see all aspects of the dog show sport on a regular basis. Clubs are experiencing both lower and higher entry numbers, although I believe overall entries are dropping. Residing in the Northeast allows for many shows in a small geographic area, but we are lacking new breeders, exhibitors, club members, and volunteers. The upcoming new CDC rules making it more difficult for dogs to enter the US will undoubtably impact shows that typically include entries from our border countries. Despite these challenges in our sport, the dog show community remains a tight-knit group that comes together in a time of need. They also come together for great experiences such as The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which will always prevail because, after all, “Westminster—There Is Only One!”