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Interview with Betty-Anne Stenmark – 2024 WKC Dog Show Breed Judge

Betty-Anne Stenmark

Interview with Betty-Anne Stenmark – 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?

Betty-Anne Stenmark: It is always an honor to be a part of the WKC judging panel. I have been lucky through the years, my first time in 1992, and I think 2024 just might have been my 13th or 14th time. As I said, I’ve been lucky.

I am amazed at what WKC has pulled off, year after year. In the years of Breed and Group judging at Madison Square Garden it took a lot to pull those off, but nothing compared to when the floor of MSG was remodeled and found to be too small to accommodate Breed judging, and then that took place out at the Piers. Again, incredibly, WKC somehow made that cow’s ear into a silk purse and, year after year, more and more thought went into making this work. Then the Piers became dangerous and closed to use, and in February 2020 COVID hit five minutes after we all left Manhattan for home. But instead of cancelling the show, somehow Lyndhurst, the home of Westchester KC, was transformed and Breed judging took place outdoors and the Groups took place in a large tent made to resemble MSG. Wow! And after a couple of years, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens hosted WKC 2023 and 2024. Another venue… beautifully done. For anyone who has been a Show Chairman you can imagine how difficult it is to constantly be reinventing the wheel, so to speak—not easy. I wonder what WKC has in store for us in 2025? No doubt, it’ll be special.

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

Betty-Anne Stenmark: Now to the judging. I have a very special place in my heart for the long and low breeds, the achondroplastic ones, having bred one of them for the past 48 years.

The variety winners in Dachshunds were lovely, but I was disappointed in the lack of depth of quality. All breeds go through ups and downs, and clearly this is not a good time for one of my favorite breeds. I call attention to breeders to place emphasis on the front assembly, the layback of shoulder with an upper arm to match, the keel, the length of ribbing, with a rear-quarter to match the front. I worry that there aren’t enough genes left to rid the breed of the sickle hocks that plague them. On the plus side, temperaments were stellar.

Pembroke Welsh Corgis fell in a similar category to the Dachshunds, another of my favorite breeds and one of those breeds that has always had great depth of quality. Always a pleasure to judge, but they too are on a downward swing right now. Two bitches, Breed and Select, were really pleasing to the eye, with a nice dog for Opposite.

Cardigan Welsh Corgis were terrific and a sheer joy to judge. So many excellent dogs, the breed has come a long way in recent years. Hats off to all of those breeding quality Cardigans.

Thank you to all the exhibitors who honored me with their entry. It’s not an easy schlep to New York with dogs and I really appreciated the opportunity to evaluate your dogs.

I am a breeder at heart and my comments are to be construed only as an effort to help breeders evaluate their breeding stock. Judging begins in the whelping box and it’s the sorting of those young pups that takes us on this rewarding journey to breeding better dogs.

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

Betty-Anne Stenmark: I have been heartened with the increasing entries at all-breed shows this year, particularly in the Middle West. The West Coast has not fared as well, but I’m hopeful that will change for the better. COVID took a hell of a toll on our Sport in many ways, and there’s difficulty finding suitable venues at an affordable cost. Our own club was unable to hold a show for three consecutive years, for varying reasons, but we are fighting our way back. I am hopeful other clubs will overcome these difficulties too and survive and flourish.