Interview with Edmund Dziuk – 2023 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?
Edmund Dziuk: In all honesty, I thought it was my usual invitation to steward, so the letter inviting me to judge the Hound Group came as a complete shock.
What does it mean to judge a Group at this historic show?
Edmund Dziuk: It’s the culmination of a lifetime of involvement in hounds. I attended my first WKC in 1980 as a 16-year-old Junior Handler and experienced the excitement of winning the 13″ Beagle Variety and handling her in the Madison Square Garden Group ring. To return 43 years later in order to judge is a humbling honor.
In your opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC events?
Edmund Dziuk: Westminster—there’s only one. Every nuanced detail sets it apart.
What were you thinking or feeling moments before you stepped into the center of the Group ring?
Edmund Dziuk: Since the Hound Group was first… my immediate thought before stepping in the ring was that I didn’t care much for that rendition of the National Anthem.
Was there a heightened energy coming from the dog and handler teams? Did you feel the energy of the spectators?
Edmund Dziuk: In all honesty, I really was so focused on the dogs and the importance of procedure in the Group ring. I totally tuned the crowd out.
How challenging was this assignment? Can you share your selection process?
Edmund Dziuk: Easy… dogs that were typey and fit the Breed Standard as I understand it, that I could envision doing the job they were bred to do, and were dogs I’d be delighted to take home if I were to begin breeding their respective breeds.
Do you have a word or two about your Group winner? About the dogs that placed?
Edmund Dziuk: The PBGV was a standout to my eye in every aspect… type, soundness, condition, temperament. It was an honor to award him the Group, and an even bigger honor to watch him go BIS under icon Beth Sweigart.
There is no other show quite like Westminster. Is there anything you’d like to say on behalf of the Westminster Kennel Club and its members?
Edmund Dziuk: WKC, their show committee, their members, and their staff should all be congratulated on putting on this world-class event. They have overcome tremendous obstacles in the continuity of the show, while maintaining traditions—and making new ones.
Are there specific ways in which this show furthers the cause of purebred dogs?
Edmund Dziuk: I would like to think it’s the ultimate showcase of the years of blood, sweat, and tears that preservation breeders have put in to celebrate purebred dogs.
Now that your assignment is complete, what does Westminster mean to you personally?
Edmund Dziuk: I have a vault full of Westminster memories made over the last 43 years since I first attended. Judging this year’s Hound Group is a very special addition, a memory that will always make me smile as I think about all those great dogs in the ring that night.