Interview with Working Group Judge Terrie Breen
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Terrie Breen: I live in Windsor, Connecticut. I purchased my first purebred dog, an Akita, in 1982. I have been in dogs for forty years, judging since 2007.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Terrie Breen: My original breed is the Akita. (I’ve also owned an English Foxhound.) My kennel name is Takara Akitas. “Takara” means “treasured” in Japanese.
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?
Terrie Breen: Notable dogs include: Multiple BIS BISS CH KAMAKAZI’S Remington, Multiple BISS CH TAKARA’S Cousin Cogs, and BISS CH TAKARA’S Right Up My Ally.
“Remington” was a Versatility Dog and a ROM, a two-time Top 20 Winner and 2004 Akita National Winner, four-time Westminster Breed Winner and a Group Placer. “Ally” was 2011 Akita National Top 20 Winner and Winners Bitch and Best of Winners at the 2008 Akita National.
What are the qualities I most admire in the Working breeds?
Terrie Breen: I admire their beauty, strength, independence, and intelligence.
Have I judged any Working Group Specialties?
Terrie Breen: I have had the honor of judging Akita Sweepstakes, Dogs, Bitches, Intersex, and Top 20, as well as assignments for Samoyed, Alaskan Malamutes, Regional Boxer, Doberman, and Siberian Specialties, and Junior Showmanship at the Doberman and Bernese Mountain Dog Nationals. I also judged the Akita National in England.
Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Working breeds?
Terrie Breen: I find some breeds go through periods where bodies may be longer than desired or leg proportions may be too short. Sometimes, substance—or lack thereof—can be an issue. Breeds with no height requirement need to be evaluated to ensure that it does not hinder the dog’s ability to perform its function.
Is breed-specific presentation important to me as a judge? Can I offer some examples?
Terrie Breen: It is always “a plus” when a dog is presented correctly. That said, it ultimately is the quality of the dog that matters. A dog with wonderful attributes can easily be shown by someone who is not presenting it in the best way, but, somehow, the correct conformation of the dog shines through.
What are my thoughts on cropping/docking the Working breeds?
Terrie Breen: I do not come from a breed where these practices are preferred. I understand there are strong opinions on the subject. I, myself, respect the parent clubs’ recommendations and judge according to the standard for each breed.
Are the Working breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns?
Terrie Breen: There are always exceptional examples to be found in each breed. However, recently, I find a lot of straight fronts and restricted movement. Structure is important. Each Working Dog was bred to perform a task and should be able to do so.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Working Dogs of the past?
Terrie Breen: There certainly are good examples of Working Dogs to be found today. I’m not sure the dogs of the past were necessarily better. Perhaps, we just remember them more fondly.
Why do you think the Working breeds are so admired as family companions?
Terrie Breen: The first thing that comes to mind would be loyalty. This trait is expressed in many of the Working breed standards, and I have certainly experienced it in my own Akitas.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Working Group?
Terrie Breen: I have only been judging the Working Group for a year, so I have yet to have an amusing story that I can share. I do, however, have a story about myself and the wonderful judge whom we just recently lost, Joe Gregory.
I showed Remington myself for the first year. I was at a show in New Hampshire where he had won the Working Group, and we were all in a line-up awaiting the decision in Best. I was so busy fussing and stacking that I failed to realize that Mr. Gregory had been standing in front of me. When I finally looked up, he smiled in his easy-going manner and said to me, “Well, if you really don’t want this I can give it to someone else.” It took me a few seconds to regain my composure, but red-faced and extremely excited, I quickly retrieved my ribbon.