Interview with a Sporting Group Judge Bernadette Cox

Sporting Group Judge Bernadette Cox

Interview with Sporting Group Judge Bernadette Cox by Showsight Magazine.

1. Where do you live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
2. What is your original breed? What is/was your kennel name?
3. Can you list a few of the notable dogs you’ve bred? Any performance or field titles?
4. How important are Performance and Companion titles in a Sporting Dog?
5. Have you judged any Sporting Breed Specialties?
6. Do you find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Sporting breeds?
7. Is breed-specific expression important to you as a judge? Can you offer some examples?
8. What are your thoughts on the current grooming practices among the coated breeds?
9. Are the Sporting breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns?
10. In your opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Sporting Dogs of the past?
11. Why do you think the Sporting breeds make up a large portion of the typical show’s entries?
12. Just for laughs, do you have a funny story you can share about judging the Sporting Group?

Sporting Group Judge Bernadette Cox

I got my first Golden Retriever in 1964, and produced my first litter in 1967. I was fortunate to get my start with two fine champions. In my first two litters, I donated five puppies to Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California. Those puppies helped to form the foundation breeding stock there. A full sister to the guide dogs, CH Kazak’s Annastasia, became the foundation for my breeding program. “Annie” was one of the earliest OFA-cleared Goldens, and she produced four litters from the finest champion sires of the day. From Annie came eight consecutive generations of owner-handled champions in a very small and selective breeding program, which included GRCA Outstanding Sires, Show Dog Hall of Fame members, and movie actors.
For nearly 40 years, I worked in the Veterinary Health field, first as a kennel attendant, then as a surgical assistant, and finally as the Business/Hospital Manager of more than one veterinary corporation in California and Washington.
I began judging in 1988, and now judge the entire Sporting Group, Best in Show, and Junior Showmanship at home in the US and abroad.

Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge? I live in Olympia, Washington. I got my first Golden 57 years ago. I’ve been licensed to judge since 1988.

What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name? I began in Golden Retrievers, then had two Pomeranians which were like teeny Goldens. Both breeds are so sweet and easy to live with.

Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or field titles? I’ve had numerous champions, but my most notable was CH Westmont’s Kandyman Of Kazak. He was a GRCA Outstanding Sire and was in the Show Dog Hall of fame.

How important are Performance and Companion titles in a Sporting Dog? I had a very small kennel, and had litters mostly for myself. Since I lived in Southern California, most of my dogs went to movie and TV industry people, including some VERY famous individuals. Consequently, many of my Goldens appeared in movies and commercials. I also donated Goldens to Guide Dogs For The Blind in San Rafael, California, when they needed to add breeds other than German Shepherds to lead blind children, and for some women who wanted a smaller dog. There, my Goldens began their pilot breeding program as well as a few pups that I gave them to actually lead the blind.

Have I judged any Sporting Breed Specialties? I’ve judged the GRCA National, GRCA Western Regional, GRCA Top Twenty, and numerous Sporting Dog specialties.

Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Sporting breeds? Sporting Dogs are bred to do a job. I’ve seen really great individuals that are not boxed-in to a specific size, proportion or substance. Because of this, I am very lenient regarding those limitations.

Is breed-specific expression important to me as a judge? Can I offer some examples? I really love a Sporting Dog expression that says, “Hey, let’s go get those birds! You ready?” The face should show happy expectation!

What are my thoughts on the current grooming practices among the coated breeds? I think there is way too much grooming. I’m shocked by some breeds that have had their hair straightened with electric irons, and washed so often that it is damaged and “crispy” looking. Coat should be shiny and lustrous, and actually move when they do!

Are the Sporting breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns? We must remember that the Sporting breeds are ATHLETES. Some breeds are shown mostly on the chubby side to look like they have more substance, but I love to feel hard muscle under that coat. So, I guess that means these breeds need to be more conditioned than some breeds in the other Groups.

In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Sporting Dogs of the past? I can remember some extraordinary examples of the past like CH Cragmont’s Hilo who could win again today. I feel that the cream does rise to the top—in any era.

Why do I think the Sporting breeds make up a large portion of the typical show’s entries? Sporting Dog breeds adapt to just about everyone in the family… fun for the kids, game companions for the adults, and even cuddlers for the seniors. And, when you walk one, people want to pet them. They are friendly and smart— MY FAVORITES!

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  • I got my first Golden Retriever in 1964, and produced my first litter in 1967. I was fortunate to get my start with two fine champions. In my first two litters, I donated five puppies to Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California. Those puppies helped to form the foundation breeding stock there. A full sister to the guide dogs, CH Kazak’s Annastasia, became the foundation for my breeding program. “Annie” was one of the earliest OFA-cleared Goldens, and she produced four litters from the finest champion sires of the day. From Annie came eight consecutive generations of owner-handled champions in a very small and selective breeding program, which included GRCA Outstanding Sires, Show Dog Hall of Fame members, and movie actors. For nearly 40 years, I worked in the Veterinary Health field, first as a kennel attendant, then as a surgical assistant, and finally as the Business/Hospital Manager of more than one veterinary corporation in California and Washington. I began judging in 1988, and now judge the entire Sporting Group, Best in Show, and Junior Showmanship at home in the US and abroad.

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