Interview with 2022 AKC National Championship Herding Group Judge Dr. Tom Davies

Featured photo: Vicki Holloway (C) AKC
Herding Group Judge Dr. Tom Davies with the Herding Group winner: GCH CH Kaleef's Mercedes, a German Shepherd Dog known as “Mercedes,” owned by Cynthian Wilhelmy of Edgerton, WI and bred by Sheree Moses, Lauren Figler, Madeline Llewellyn, Jeanne Hamilton.


Interview with 2022 AKC National Championship Herding Group Judge Dr. Tom Davies


Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Herding Group at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin?

Dr. Tom Davies: It was a super honor to be asked to judge the Herding Group at the flagship AKC show. A very special privilege, indeed.


What does it mean to judge a Group at the only all-breed show organized directly by the American Kennel Club?

Dr. Tom Davies: To pass on the best of the best at this show was especially fulfilling to me. The quality of the exhibits was so extensive, examining each Best of Breed dog was a pleasure.


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

Dr. Tom Davies: The show itself is one of a kind. Everything is carefully coordinated by the Show Committee. The planning and execution are handled as no other show. Attention to detail and the sheer magnitude of all the events makes it the show of the year.


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

Dr. Tom Davies: A wee bit of apprehension, of course, but excited to be able to see and judge the wonderful specimens of all the Herding Breeds. I was not disappointed in the least. Coming through the archway flanked by the wonderful arena dedication to Ron Menaker was especially moving. All the apprehension just disappeared as soon as the dogs entered the ring.


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

Dr. Tom Davies: The energy and excitement from the dogs and the handlers was palpable. Everyone, both dogs and handlers, was ready for their moment. There was only positive energy from all. The enthusiasm from the spectators added to the excitement that we all felt. Adding to that was the cheering and support that each dog received from the gallery.


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

Dr. Tom Davies: In a sense, it was both extremely challenging and not challenging at all. Challenging in the fact that one has so many great dogs to select from, and not at all for the same reason. I consider each dog on its own merits and adherence to its Breed Standard. In the end, it is a process that is hard to describe—emotional yet pragmatic.


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

Dr. Tom Davies: My Group winner, the German Shepherd Dog bitch, simply took my breath away. A powerful, sturdy, elegant animal that possesses all the essence of a bitch. Perhaps the best that I have had the privilege to judge.

My placements, the Australian Shepherd, the Bouvier, and the Border Collie, were “a cut above.”


A dog show of this magnitude is a monumental undertaking. Is there anything you’d like to say on behalf of the AKC and the show’s sponsors?

Dr. Tom Davies: The teams from AKC and Royal Canin have once again presented us with a spectacular event. Each year the show gets a bit better and more representative of our passion for our dogs. The breadth of activities that are part of this great show really are all about “fun things to do with your dog.”


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

Dr. Tom Davies: In addition to showcasing AKC purebred dogs, I have to give a huge “shout out” to the production staff that puts together the show and the post-show programming. Each and every breed gets its “moment in the spotlight.”


Now that it’s over, what are your thoughts on the 2022 show year? Any thoughts on the year ahead?

Dr. Tom Davies: The year (2022) was a great year for our dogs, our sports, and AKC as we emerged from the frightfulness of the previous couple of years. It has been a good year, and I look forward to more of the same in the coming year.

Let’s keep in mind the AKC tag, “If it Barks, It’s AKC,” as we look to 2023.

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