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Insights from Herding Group Judge Emily Fish

Emily Fish


Interview with Herding Group Judge Emily Fish

I grew up showing and breeding dogs under the Pawcific prefix. My breeds are Cardigan Welsh Corgis and Border Collies. It’s my belief that form follows function, and my dogs have been successful in both the herding and conformation rings. I have bred a multi-Best in Show/National Specialty winner, many Group-winning dogs, Specialty winners, and multiple dogs with top performance titles. I started judging in 2010 and enjoy being a younger member of the judging community. As a breeder-judge, I have had the opportunity to judge multiple Specialty Shows across the US, and in 2019, I judged at the Border Collie National in Australia. Currently, I have the Herding Group, seven Sporting breeds, three Toys, two Hounds, one Working, and Junior Showmanship. I look forward to being a lifetime student and learning more about each breed.

Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Emily Fish: I live in Camas, Washington. I’ve been in dogs for 27 years and have been an AKC judge for 12 years.

What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Emily Fish: My original breed is the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, but I am also very involved in Border Collies. Pawcific is my kennel name.

Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?
Emily Fish: Cardigan Welsh Corgi: MBISS MBIS GCHG Am./Can./Int. CH Pawcific I Walk With The King HSAds PT HT STDsd HTAD1sd JHDs NAP CA CAA BCAT ACT1 ACT2 CGC TKN TKI VCX – “King” won the 2019 CWCCA National; he has 24 titles to date, with more in the works.

Border Collie: BISS GCHB CH Pawcific Dream Date HSAs – “Lucy” won a BIS NOHS and has a history of National and Specialty wins. She was honored to have won Best Puppy in Sweepstakes at her first National and Best Veteran in Sweepstakes at her last. BISS GCH CH Pawcific I’ve Got A Date With A Dream RN NF NA NAJ TKA – “Dasher” is Lucy’s son who had a short show career with a specialty win and Select Dog at the National. He is now an Instagram star @dasherbordercollie.

What are the qualities I most admire in the Herding breeds?
Emily Fish: I am most drawn to the Herding breeds because of their versatility to do all venues and because of their intelligence. I believe form follows function and I have enjoyed learning what makes a Herding Dog capable of doing its job in the herding arena.

Have I judged any Herding Group Specialties?
Emily Fish: Yes.

Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Herding breeds?
Emily Fish: It varies over the entry you receive. Where I usually fault a dog is “long and low,” especially in some of the square breeds. So, I caution those who breed square dogs to watch for proportions in those breeds.

Is breed-specific presentation important to me as a judge? Can you offer some examples?
Emily Fish: Yes, it is very important. I recently judged a large entry of Pumis. The standard states, in bold, “The coat must never appear fluffed and blown dry, obscuring the characteristic curls.” Unfortunately, I had to fault several dogs that were blown-out as I could not judge their coat properly.

This is something I hope handlers become more aware of and stop blowing-out and fluffing these rustic Herding breeds. That coat is essential to breed type.

Breed presentation, I think, is key to understanding the temperament of each Herding Breed. I have been honored to judge several Specialty shows in breeds beyond my own breeds. One in particular that I love to judge is the German Shepherd Dog, and many GSD handlers are well aware that they should be prepared to move “a ton” in my ring. Many times, that beautiful, stunning mover takes time to settle down into a proper gait, and I will give them time to do just that. As a judge, you can miss that great mover by not spending time to see them settle into their gait.

What about breed-specific movement? Do I demand this from Herding Dogs?
Emily Fish: Yes, most definitely. Movement is key to function.

Are the Herding breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns?
Emily Fish: I have judged some stunning entries lately. Sometimes the depth of an entry is not present, but overall, I believe we have some top dogs throughout the country that I would be honored to see in my ring.

In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Herding Dogs of the past?
Emily Fish: Many “greats” from the past could still compete today. A few dogs from the past could walk into my ring today and still be competitive. In Cardigans, I believe we have grown in getting more consistency in our breed. We have made improvement in our overall quality.

Why do I think Herding Dogs can often become outstanding Show Dogs?
Emily Fish: They love to work for their handlers, and that connection can just make a dog shine.