Interview with Working Group Judge Andy Ritter
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Andy Ritter: I live in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. I have been in dogs for over 30 years. I have been a judge for over 11 years.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Andy Ritter: My original breed is Bernese Mountain Dogs, which I still own to this day. My kennel name is Cerri’s Bernese Mountain Dogs. The name was created by combining the names of my first two dogs.
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?
Andy Ritter: My most notable dog that I bred was Ch. Cerri’s Just Push Play. She was my heart dog and did well at specialties as well as at the all-breed level.
What are the qualities I most admire in the Working breeds?
Andy Ritter: The best quality in the Working Dogs is their ability to learn and their devotion to their families.
Have I judged any Working Group Specialties?
Andy Ritter: I have judged many Regional Specialties for my breed and for several other Working breeds.
Do I find that size, proportion and substance are correct in most Working breeds?
Andy Ritter: I do find that the size and substance are within the standards for each breed. Not to say that I don’t see dogs that are out of the range from time to time.
Is breed-specific presentation important to me as a judge? Can I offer some examples?
Andy Ritter: I do like breed-specific presentation. One example is seeing a Leonberger that is in a natural coat and not over-groomed.
What are my thoughts on cropping/docking the Working breeds?
Andy Ritter: My view on cropping and docking is as follows: I believe that we have docked and cropped our dogs in order to protect those animals from harm while doing their jobs. I will follow each breed’s standard and parent club’s view on that subject. If the parent club finds it to be no fault, a minor fault, or a major fault, I will use that as a guide for judging that breed.
Are the Working breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns?
Andy Ritter: Today, I find the Working breeds to be in fair-to-good shape. There are a few breeds that have improved from years ago. However, some breeds have remained the same while others need improvement. I do believe that in the past few years (with the world being in lock-down) breeding stock has been limited. It was very hard to import or travel to those dogs that would have helped to improve an individual’s breeding program. I believe, as travel begins to open up more, we will continue to see improvements in certain breeds.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Working Dogs of the past?
Andy Ritter: I believe that the degree of sportsmanship is the same as in past years. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I see good sportsmanship alive and well in our rings.
Why do I think the Working breeds are so admired as family companions?
Andy Ritter: That is easy. They are a handsome group of dogs, and they love their families. Once you experience that, you can see why people want Working Dogs.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Working Group?
Andy Ritter: I don’t really have any one stand-out experience in the ring. Every time I judge, I have some type of amusement in the ring. I try to encourage all exhibitors who enter my ring to relax and enjoy it.