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Interview with Christine Erickson – 2024 WKC Dog Show Hound Group Judge

Christine Erickson

Interview with Christine Erickson – 2024 WKC Dog Show Hound Group Judge

Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Hound Group at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?

Christine Erickson: Well, the first thing I can say, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Any time that any of the judges see the Pointer, the logo of Westminster, on the envelope, we always get excited. That’s all I can say. You can spin that any way you want, but it was overwhelming.

What does it mean to judge a Group at this historic event?

Christine Erickson: This is the second Group that I’ve judged, and I think every judge who attends this event, and that’s many of us, it’s the icing on the cake to judge a Group. My parents both judged different breeds at Westminster on different years. My very first Westminster, I was already showing dogs. I was raised in dogs. My dad was judging Terriers, I think it was 1979. So, I went back with him at that time, and I’ve been going ever since.

In your opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC shows?

Christine Erickson: For me, there’s just nothing in the world to compare, and I’ve attended many shows all over the world. To me, Westminster is the best of the best shows.

What were you thinking or feeling moments before you stepped into the center of the Group ring?

Christine Erickson: I was very proud. Thrilled. Excited. That’s it… proud, thrilled, and excited. I really wasn’t as nervous as I was thrilled and excited.

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

Christine Erickson: I did this year. Last year it was not as heavily attended. This year I felt that the audience was there. I thought the people were excited, just like it used to be at Madison Square Garden. So, yes, I did feel excited to be there.

How challenging was this assignment? Can you share your selection process?

Christine Erickson: It was very challenging. The Hound Group was so packed with quality. Unfortunately, you can only pull eight and use four. But I probably could have pulled at least 20, and I probably used a lot of those dogs that were in my ring. This might come up later, but I have to say that the breeders who sent me the dogs, and the judges who judged the breeds, were just outstanding this year.

Do you have a word or two about your Group winner? About the dogs that placed?

Christine Erickson: I will say something about the Afghan Hound, that’s who I chose. From the beginning, he owned that ring. He was made for the big ring, if you understand what that means. He came in, he went around, he was breathtaking. His headpiece was held high, he carried it proudly. His topline never faltered. He just sailed around that ring.

Number Two. I think the Whippet was beautiful. She really did push the Afghan. And I’m going to say what she excelled in: along with being correctly made, her curves were in the right places. She had a lovely side gait. She was elegant in every detail.

Third was the Otterhound. She never stepped wrong. If it was during her down and back or her go-round, she used her legs wisely. She never faltered and she was… she was just lovely. I had to reward her.

Then fourth, my Norwegian Elkhound. Sidenote: My grandmother bred Elkhounds, so I’ve known them all my life. I will say that with the Elkhounds of today, sometimes it’s very hard to find a square dog. He was square. He was up on leg and his ears were set high on his head. And he used them, which is also hard to find nowadays. He had a nice high tail set over his back, and he had great feet. Another hard to find feature, great feet.

There is no other show quite like Westminster. Is there anything you’d like to say to the Officers of The Westminster Kennel Club?

Christine Erickson: Well, I think questions 8, 9 & 10 are kind of running together. As I stated before, there’s nothing like Westminster in the world to me. The last few years, they’ve really had some challenges and they’ve stepped up to them. Every year it’s a little bit better. This year, 2024, in my opinion, was their finest hour since they’ve left Madison Square Garden. They just seem to excel in everything. Every little move that they made they probably learned from their mistakes, and this year I didn’t see anything amiss.

To the WKC staff and the President, I have to say, Donald Sturz steps up to the plate. He had somebody handle every detail for the judges and the spectators. I know last year he was even out there hours before the show began to greet people. So, hats off to Westminster. I just think it’s the greatest show in the world.