Interview with a Toy Group Judge Sandy Walker
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Sandy Walker: I live in Stow, Massachusetts, where I was born into dogs. My parents had Bedlington Terriers, and later switched to Min Pins. I started judging Obedience in the mid 1980s and Papillons in 1990.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Sandy Walker: My original breed is the Papillon. My kennel name is Bedmark.
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?
Sandy Walker: I didn’t breed her, but my first Papillon, Am./Can. CH/OTCH Josandre Touch of Mischief, bred by Pearl George and Mary Jo Loye, was the first multiple Group winner to get an OTCH. Also, PCA Silver Butterfly winner.
Notable dogs I bred include Am./Can. CH Can. OTCH Bedmark Mischeif In The Air UDX; BOS at PCA National Specialty and Multiple HIT winner, co-bred with Kate Bostek; and CH Roclan’s Give My Regards, owned by Ann Jackson, BOB and HIT at PCA National Specialty.
What are some of the qualities that I most admire in the Toy Breeds?
Sandy Walker: I admire that they are REAL dogs in a small package!
Have I judged any Toy Breed Specialties?
Sandy Walker: I have judged the Papillon National Specialty, Chinese Crested Regional, Pug Specialty at The Pier, and many Chihuahua, Papillon, Min Pin, and Crested Specialties. I’ve judged the Maltese National Specialty in Taiwan, and Papillons in Sweden.
Can I offer any advice to exhibitors regarding the presentation of these “table” breeds?
Sandy Walker: Take the time to train your dog, especially on bite. Dogs are judged on the ground, but must be examined on the table, so the judge must be tolerated.
Some longtime exhibitors have “downsized” to Toys. In my opinion, has this had an impact on quality?
Sandy Walker: Since many breeders can make their own majors, the quality is often questionable. Still, there are some outstanding examples of the breed out there and the Toy Group remains very competitive.
Toy Breeds can require special care. Do I have any advice to offer breeders, exhibitors, and judges?
Sandy Walker: The biggest problems I have seen, both in the past and today, are teeth (losing them early, that is) and the choice of soundness vs. type. Unlike Working Dogs, type must rule in Toys—but they must still be sound enough to warrant breeding. I wish that more newer breeders would take advantage of the generations that came before them and learn about the dogs in the pedigrees.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Toy Dogs of the past?
Sandy Walker: They have better nutrition but are over-groomed. It would be nice if the wishes of the parent clubs were heeded on trimming and presentation.
Why do I think Toy Dogs can become outstanding Show Dogs?
Sandy Walker: They were born to be with people. What is easier to work with than that?
If I could share your life with only one Toy Breed, which would it be and why?
Sandy Walker: I’m always looking for the perfect Papillon!
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Toy Group?
Sandy Walker: No, but I lost my pantyhose in a Group ring once, and my Utility Dog once tried to retrieve the mat along with her glove. She wouldn’t drop either, so she started a tug-of-war, complete with growling and attempting to shake it.