Interview with Hound Group Judge Linda Scanlon
I have served as President of the Saluki Club of America, and I’ve run and served on multiple committees over many years of living in several places where I have served as President of multiple all-breed clubs, Vice President, Board Member, Newsletter Editor, Obedience Chair, Show Chair, Health Committee, Versatility Chair, Judges Liaison, Seminar Presenter, and Conformation and Obedience trainer, giving weekly classes for the clubs, etc.
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Linda Scanlon: I currently live in the Colorado high country, but have lived in various places in the US as well as abroad. I have been in the dog sports (Conformation came first) since 1962, began judging Lure Coursing about 1975 (prior to AKC recognition), and I was approved for Obedience in 1979, Conformation in 1986, and Rally when it began in 2006.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Linda Scanlon: My original breed was the Australian Terrier (kennel name Stickybeak) in which I competed with a homebred who was the first Aussie to hold titles in Conformation, Obedience, and Ground Work (prior to AKC recognition).
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred?
Linda Scanlon: My “heart” breed was to come 10 years later, in 1972, when I obtained my first Saluki (kennel name Aarakis). Eventually, my first two Salukis earned the first two Utility titles in the breed. I was told it could not be done, which was a great inducement to prove that premise wrong. Those first two Salukis earned many Dog World Obedience Awards in the days when the high scores were cherished. I believe they are still the only ones to earn the OTCH/UD titles in Canada as well. One was also a Lure Coursing Field Champion/Best in Field winner as well as a multiple Group winner and placer, and a multiple all-breed High in Trail winner (when entries were over 100 dogs/show), always owner-handled. Salukis graced my home for 46 years.
What are some of the qualities I most admire in the Hound breeds?
Linda Scanlon: While they can be frustrating, I cherish the independent spirits of the Hounds. They think for themselves and prefer doing things their way. I also appreciate their athletic ability and the fact that many of them have retained those abilities through countless generations.
Have I judged any Hound Breed/Group Specialties?
Linda Scanlon: I have been fortunate to have judged an abundance of Specialties and Group Specialties in the US as well as internationally. I have had the honor of judging Conformation at the Saluki National Specialty twice, as well as doing their Obedience/Rally and Lure Coursing events several times.
Hounds are, first and foremost, hunters. How does this inform my decision-making in the show ring?
Linda Scanlon: In any of the breeds that I judge, it is important to understand what was their original purpose—and I find no exception for the Hounds. Always in my mind is whether or not the entry before me could do that specific job and which ones could do it the best. I try to attend “working” trials to expand my understanding and appreciation of the physical traits listed in the Standards that promote the breeds’ particular abilities. It is not always easy to translate that into what we can view in a ring situation.
How important are breed hallmarks in the Sighthounds? In the Scenthounds? In the “Primitive” Hounds?
Linda Scanlon: Breed hallmarks are extremely important in every breed. In most cases, those fine details are what separate dogs into individual breeds to make them easily identifiable one from another. When one breed makes you wonder if it is another one, even if closely related, you have lost those special hallmarks. Many, if not most, Breed Standards define these important breed characteristics.
Would I have any advice to impart to newer judges of the Hound Breeds who come from other Groups?
Linda Scanlon: When coming from another Group and viewing the Hounds, please remember that they were not built to work at an extreme trot. Flying around the ring at warp speed may be flashy and exciting to watch, but that is not their intended purpose and will not enhance their stated breed purpose. Hounds, whether scent or sight, have their own way of going, each demonstrating its special identity, and none should move like a Sporting breed.
Annie Clark reminded me that I should leave the Saluki “baggage” out of the ring when studying and judging other breeds.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Hounds of the past?
Linda Scanlon: All breeds cycle through variations. There have been magnificent specimens in every breed over time. There are those that are currently in the ring, and I am sure there are great examples just waiting to delight us in the future as well.
When it comes to Group and Best in Show competition, do Hounds have a “leg up” or a liability? (Think Westminster.)
Linda Scanlon: I would place the Hounds below the mid-point regarding advantages in a Group or BIS. Many of them are serious dogs not prone to “looking cute” on demand and are frequently non-responsive to the judge who expects them to react with interest to his/her whims. Many of them do not, and should not, have enough coat to cover faults, which is a distinct disadvantage. Many of the Hounds are less than thrilled to be in the show ring and they transmit that feeling rather successfully. As a judge, try to understand and appreciate that quality and do not dismiss them because they are not “showing.” On the other hand, do not put them up just because they “asked” for it. Of course, those Hounds whose Breed Standards mention their cheerful attitudes certainly have an advantage and reap their rewards regularly. However, especially with the Sighthounds, they can have stunning silhouettes and, if you are artistically inclined, this can be very appealing—especially if they maintain that beautiful silhouette while moving with ease, lightness of foot, and grace.
If I could share my life with only one Hound Breed, which would it be and why?
Linda Scanlon: The Hound breed I would like to share my life with? I think that is obvious after 46 years—Salukis, for their temperaments (not overly needy) if there is nothing to chase. They are perfectly happy to share your couch but need not be at your side every time you move (quite the contrary). They are loyal to their people, quiet inside and outside, and they require minimal grooming and have no doggy smell. They are clever enough to keep you thinking too. They’re independent and aloof, and have a subtle sense of humor. They are lovely to observe, pack-oriented, and are incredible to watch when hunting, whether live game or plastic.