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Interview with Working Group Judge Christie Martinez

Christie Martinez

Interview with Working Group Judge Christie Martinez

Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Christie Martinez: I live in Port Ludlow, Washington, with my husband, Manny, where we enjoy cruising the San Juan Islands and Canada on our boat, Twilight Time.

What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Christie Martinez: I had a Samoyed and a Toy Fox Terrier at two years of age, and later, two Toy Poodles. Along with my lifelong involvement with Samoyeds, I have enjoyed finishing a Toy Fox Terrier, a Yorkshire Terrier, and my sweet little Havanese, “Poppy,” who, as I write this, lays on my lap.

My original breed is the Samoyed. At two years old, the Samoyed I had was named “Keta.” So, in memory of him, my kennel name is d’Keta (of Keta).

Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?
Christie Martinez: My favorite dog was probably Multi-BISS CH d’Keta Strikes Gold, aka “Riley.” He is featured in The Samoyed Tales Trilogy: Celebrating Life, Love and Lessons with Our Dogs, written by Jim Cheskawich. Riley won Best Puppy at the SCA National Specialty in 2001 under Houston Clark. In 2011, he won Best of Breed at the SCA National Specialty under breeder-judge Beth Riley.

Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Working breeds?
Christie Martinez: In 2011, I wrote an article titled, “SIZE MATTERS,” for The Working Digest. When measuring breeds where it is called for, it is a pleasure when they measure in and are at the correct height.

Is breed-specific presentation important to me as a judge? Can I offer some examples?
Christie Martinez: It is discouraging to see our breeds scissored and trimmed far beyond just neatening up the feet. What is appropriate or not is spelled out very clearly in the breed standards.

What are my thoughts on cropping/docking the Working breeds?
Christie Martinez: I must admit that when some of the Working breeds (and those in other Groups as well) first started coming into the ring with tails, I struggled. However, working with the parent clubs’ Judges Education, I am now quite comfortable. The confusion for many judges is when the standard says, “tail docked” and the powers-that-be say otherwise.

Are the Working breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns?
Christie Martinez: I think the Working breeds are in good shape. I am especially impressed with how far the newer breeds in the Working Group have come. I am also impressed with the quality of our breeds in the NOHS Group and how well they are presented.

I have been honored to judge the Samoyed National Specialty in both the US and Canada. I have judged many Working Groups, but I’ve loved doing the Top 20 for Samoyeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Saint Bernards. I have judged in China, Korea, Jamaica, and Mexico. In Mexico, I found an Alaskan Malamute that, literally, took my breath away.

In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Working Dogs of the past?
Christie Martinez: At a recent judge’s dinner, the topic, “What is your pet peeve when judging?” came up. Without a minute’s hesitation, mine was/is the rough handling of the dogs. A corrective pull on the leash is okay, but beyond that, please, no!

Why do I think the Working breeds are so admired as family companions?
Christie Martinez: I find the Working breeds are some of the most striking breeds in AKC. Whether they are of the more reserved or outgoing dispositions, the Working breeds are devoted and loyal.

Just for laughs, do I have a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Working Group?
Christie Martinez: Years ago, I was visiting a breeder of Kuvasz, and a small child ambled away. We spotted the Kuvasz gently herding the little toddler back to our set-up from where she had wandered off.

Our dogs are amazing!