Interview with a Toy Group Judge Benson Ray
I grew up on a farm in South Carolina and I had my first Pom at 11 years old. I have bred many Pomeranian champions as well as Pekingese, Toy Fox Terriers, Shiba Inu, Chihuahua, and Japanese Chin champions.
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Benson Ray: I live in South Carolina on a small hobby farm. I have been judging for 11 years.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Benson Ray: My original breed is the Pomeranian. My kennel name is BenRay.
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?
Benson Ray: Notable dogs include Ch. BenRay’s Sundancing Simon, Ch. BenRay’s Emmy Timstopper ROMX, Ch. BenRay’s Golden Josh and Envy ROM, Grand Ch. Ben Aires Moonchipper, and Pekingese BIS BISS Grand Ch. Ben Aires Razzmataz.
What are some of the qualities I most admire in the Toy Breeds?
Benson Ray: I admire small size (as they are Toys), pretty fronts and heads, breed type, and sound movement.
Have I judged any Toy Breed Specialties?
Benson Ray: Yes, I have judged Specialties for Chinese Crested, Pekingese, APC National for Pomeranians and a Summer National for Pomeranians. Also, I’ve judges several Toy club shows.
Can I offer any advice to exhibitors regarding the presentation of these “table” breeds?
Benson Ray: Be sure the dog is trained to stand for examination on the table prior to showing. Practice makes perfect.
Some longtime exhibitors have “downsized” to Toys. In my opinion, has this had an impact on quality?
Benson Ray: No.
Toy Breeds can require special care. Do I have any advice to offer breeders, exhibitors, and judges?
Benson Ray: In coated breeds, keep up with the required coat work. Always present a clean and well-groomed dog. From a judging standpoint, I still exhibit and I am shocked at the improper examination of Toys on the table. Judges, learn to pick up the Pekingese correctly. Know which breeds you check the front, front and side, and “thumb.” Brussels Griffons, English Toy Spaniels, Japanese Chin, Pekingese, and Pugs require the judge’s thumb being swept across the teeth to check the bite; the other Toy breeds have to have the mouth/lips opened to check detention. The breeds listed for thumb exam are undershot breeds and the thumb exam would show that easily.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Toy Dogs of the past?
Benson Ray: In coated breeds, there is lots more sculpting done of the coat. Excessive trimming is often done. There is a lack of correct grooming of some of the Toy breeds.
Why do I think Toy Dogs can become outstanding Show Dogs?
Benson Ray: They are small, less expensive to maintain, can live in the house with you or on the road, requiring little space.
If I could share my life with only one Toy Breed, which would it be and why?
Benson Ray: I would share my life with the Pomeranian because I have owned at least one since age 11. They are intelligent, easy to train, vivacious, great watch dogs, and loyal to their people.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Toy Group?
Benson Ray: I was doing the Group recently and when I did my last look after the go-around and table exam, one dog in particular just focused and stared into my eyes as if to say, “Pick me.” When I turned to walk on, the dog barked at me once. I stopped and looked back, and the dog barked twice. When I went back down the entire line and came back to this dog, he barked at me three times… still staring