Interview With Ann Yuhasz – 2022 AKC National Championship NOHS Sporting Group Judge
Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the National Owner-Handled Series Herding Group at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin?
Ann Yuhasz: I was honored to be asked to adjudicate the NOHS Sporting Group, but of course, we are always honored to be asked for every judging assignment whether large or small. I take every assignment as a testament that someone out there really wants my opinion.
What does it mean to judge this singular event at the only all-breed show organized directly by the American Kennel Club?
Ann Yuhasz: The NOHS has certainly become the crown jewel for the Owner-Handler, and in some cases, the Breeder/Owner-Handler. We are so fortunate that AKC, and in this case Royal Canin, have chosen to recognize and highlight this event so that the public is aware of this facet of dog shows.
I was an Owner-Handler long before anyone had this opportunity. It wasn’t easy to compete with the likes of those handlers who are the legends of today! Even with what I thought was an outstanding specimen, I was often out-maneuvered and certainly out-handled. I did learn and had successes, but I think it was mostly an uphill climb. I did not quit, but it wasn’t easy. So, I guess because of that I have a real soft spot for these competitors and really enjoy judging them.
In your opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC events?
Ann Yuhasz: I must say that the finals are different than normal competition. There are only two to pick; a Breed Winner and an Opposite. It didn’t matter if they were Champions, Grands, or whatever—I would not know.
What were you thinking or feeling moments before you stepped into the center of the NOHS Herding Group ring?
Ann Yuhasz: As I worked my way through these lovely specimens I felt like I was looking at the pages of “The Encyclopedia of Dogdom.” First the Pointers, then the Retrievers, the Setters, and the Spaniels… all my beloved Sporting breeds at once! The quality was outstanding, thanks to my fellow judges who had chosen these animals at the local level. The exhibitors were so wonderful, gracious in winning and losing. Congrats all around!
How challenging was this assignment? Can you share your selection process?
Ann Yuhasz: When I stood in the Group ring and 30-plus dogs marched in, I was certainly taken aback by the depth of quality that stood in front of me. A pull of ten was not really enough. This is certainly one of those times that one does not have enough ribbons.
When I stood in the Group ring and 30-plus dogs marched in, I was certainly taken aback by the depth of quality that stood in front of me.
Do you have a word or two about your NOHS Sporting Group winner? About the dogs that placed?
Ann Yuhasz: I can’t say enough about my four placements—all worthy of a Group One! But alas, one must pick. The Irish Setter is a lovely, balanced dog exceeding in type and quality. He was in glorious coat and moved like he owned the ring. The Sussex Spaniel demonstrates proper bone and topline in the most gorgeous condition. The English Springer Spaniel, again a dog of gorgeous type and correct size with wonderful movement, and the Pointer is a lovely representative of his breed. It just doesn’t get much better!
Are there specific ways in which the NOHS furthers the cause of purebred dogs?
Ann Yuhasz: In response to your question on the ways NOHS furthers the cause of the purebred dog, I believe it probably is keeping more exhibitors and more dogs at shows. Hopefully those who start find the competition healthy and come back and perhaps progress toward getting more involved in their breeds and local clubs. Right now, we have terrible apathy at the local level. Soon there will be no one involved and we will have no one to put on these shows. Perhaps AKC can add a stipulation to NOHS entrants that they need to show some sort of other participation? Just a thought on my bandstand!