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Interview with Bergit Coady-Kabel – 2023 MCKC Best in Show Judge

Bergit Coady-Kabel


Interview with Bergit Coady-Kabel – 2023 MCKC Best in Show Judge

For those of you who don’t know what the big to-do about Montgomery County Kennel Club’s show is, I will explain. It is the largest Terrier Show in the United States. Breeders, exhibitors, and handlers reserve their best dogs for this weekend. Terrier enthusiasts from across the globe make the annual trek to see the winners and observe the up-and-coming crops! The show never disappoints. Believe it or not, as soon as one Montgomery comes to an end, the planning for the next year already starts!

There was a total of 1,329 dogs entered this year, with all 32 Terrier Breeds/Varieties represented. Twenty-three breed clubs held their national specialties; four clubs had supported entries, and there were four clubs with regular entries.

In the Terrier Group, we have “18 strip breeds”; meaning, their coats get pulled. It takes 10-12 weeks to get the coat to the length each Breed Standard requires. (Details are in the individual Standards.) Stripping not only takes time, it also requires strategic timing which must be followed. With proper preparation, every dog at Montgomery is mentally ready and in good body condition, as well as in the perfect trim.

The complete trim list is as follows:

  • 18 are strip breeds
  • 3 breeds are scissor breeds
  • 9 breeds are smooth-coated
  • 1 breed is clipped
  • 1 breed has a natural long coat

It is pretty easy to see that almost all of the Terrier Breeds require a lot of continual work. A strip breed is scheduled every week for something. In my 45 years as a professional handler, the dates for the Great Western Terrier Specialties, held annually in June in Southern California, as well as Montgomery’s October dates were in bold letters on top of my date book for 13 weeks prior to these special shows! This helped to ensure that nothing would be forgotten. We all lived for these shows!


Can I describe my reaction to receiving an invitation to judge Best in Show at the Montgomery County Kennel Club’s All-Terrier Show?

Having been a handler for many years with the privilege of showing many top dogs, this invitation was like being asked to come to heaven!


What does it mean to head the judging panel at one of the most important conformation shows in the world?

It’s an incredible honor!


In my opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC events?

It differs now that you really have the best of the best in front of you.


What was I thinking or feeling moments before I stepped into the center of the BIS ring?

Truly, that I was in heaven and on Cloud 9!


Was there a heightened energy coming from the dog and handler teams? Did I feel the energy of the spectators?

The heightened energy came, firstly, from myself with the dogs, their handlers, and the crowd watching.


How challenging was this assignment? Can I share my selection process?

It was extremely challenging; so many excellent dogs. Then, when I narrowed it down, I saw something and that made my final decisions.


Bergit Coady
Bergit Coady-Kabel

Do I have a word or two about my Best in Show winner? About the Best Brace in Show winners?

My Best in Show winner, the Sealyham Terrier, is a dream of a dog in every way, shape or form. His very capable hander got the best out of him that night.

As for the Braces: No. 1—My Airedales were strong and sound. No. 2—My Bedlingtons moved as one, as a brace should. No. 3—My Smooth Foxes carried themselves nicely. And No. 4—My Cairns will be perfect with a little more experience. Their coats, heads, and expressions were to be commended.


A dog show of this magnitude is a monumental undertaking. Is there anything I’d like to say on behalf of the Montgomery County Kennel Club and its members?

With as hard as all the exhibitors, handlers, and judges work, the show committee does the same and more! I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person for the incredible amount of time, work, and effort that goes into a show with the magnitude of Montgomery County!


Are there specific ways in which this show furthers the cause of purebred dogs?

Yes. One has to hope some “newcomers” show up and take an interest in one of the Terrier Breeds. Also, breeders see the “get” of other stud dogs and may be interested in using new blood!


In my opinion, what does the future hold for the Terrier Breeds in America and around the world?

The Terrier Breeds will prevail as long as we can get young people interested in all that is involved in these 32 Breeds. Terriers are not just beautiful creatures; they can be trained for many things! You need work ethic and a load of passion! Once it grabs you, there is no turning back!!