An Interview with Karen Wilson – Montgomery County Kennel Club 2022 Best in Show Judge

Karen Wilson with her dog


Interview with 2022 Montgomery County Kennel Club Best in Show Judge Karen Wilson


Can you describe your reaction to receiving the invitation to judge Best in Show at this year’s Montgomery County Kennel Club dog show?

Karen Wilson: I was delighted and honored with the invitation to judge Best in Show at Montgomery in 2022. Of course, the judge must keep the invitation a secret until Montgomery announces the slate of judges. (This was hard to do since I was so thrilled with the invitation. So, I could only share my excitement with my family.) The first MCKC that Gary and I attended was in 1969 when we moved from California to Virginia. Our California friends said, “You must go and show at the ‘Greatest Terrier Show in the World.’” So, this was the beginning of 50-plus years at Montgomery (only missing two years because other commitments).


What does it mean to head the judging panel at “The World’s Greatest Terrier Show?”

Karen Wilson: For a Terrier judge, this is a great thrill since this is the premier Terrier show in the world. There are several other Terrier shows in the world, but this is the biggest and best-known. This was a day I will long remember.


In your opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC events? What were you thinking or feeling the moment before you stepped into the center of the BIS ring?

So many shows are exciting to judge; for example: Westminster KC, the AKC Annual Show in December, M&E, and lots of Group Shows and Specialties. However, as I mentioned before, this is perhaps the biggest honor of all for a Terrier judge.

In anticipation of the show, I wondered which dogs would be chosen to represent their breed. While watching the dogs come into the ring, I thought to myself, “WOW, this is going to be a challenge.”

While watching the dogs come into the ring, I thought to myself, “WOW, this is going to be a challenge.”


Was there a heightened energy coming from the dog and handler teams? Did you feel excitement from the spectators?

Karen Wilson: The spectators showed their excitement by cheering on the dogs representing their breed. I usually concentrate so much on the dogs that I hear little of the crowd noise. The majority of the handling teams were in tune with each other; the dogs showed well on this great day. The handlers were courteous—which is very important to me!


How challenging was this assignment? Can you share your selection process?

Karen Wilson: With the excellent quality of the dogs in the Group, the challenge of choosing the top dogs on the day was a great undertaking. It was very difficult to narrow my choices down to just a few to watch on the final move around the ring. If only I would have had at least four more ribbons to recognize other excellent exhibits.

My selection process was narrowed down to proper movement for their breed, showmanship, outline, and who best fit the standard for their breed.

With the excellent quality of the dogs in the Group, the challenge of choosing the top dogs on the day was a great undertaking.


Do you have a word or two about your Best in Show winner? About the dogs that placed?

  • First—A fabulous Lakeland Terrier bitch (GCHG CH Hi-Kel Terrydale Nanhall Mizzconceived). I cannot say enough about this Lakeland. She exudes breed type, is a sound mover, has superior coat and outline, is muscular and very feminine, and is shown to perfection. She is owner/handled.
  • Second—A wonderful Sealyham Terrier male (GCHS CH Goodspice Efbe Money Stache). This breeder/owner-handler has always been “tops” in this breed. The dog has a superior topline, moves out well, super coat, and great Sealy expression. He was a well-deserved Reserve winner.
  • Third—A Kerry Blue Terrier male of excellent breed type (GCHG CH Blue Crush Freedom and Whiskey). He has an excellent coat, proper outline, great coming and going, is well balanced, and shows in unison with his handler.
  • Fourth—A Cairn Terrier female with superior breed type (GCHS CH Hjohoo’s Hjo Want It All). A Cairn with wonderful showmanship, super coat, sound coming and going, excellent expression, and a wonderful topline and tail-set.


What is the significance of having the Brace Class at a show like Montgomery?

Karen Wilson: A Brace Class is interesting to judge and, in some cases, not so easy to reach around and examine. The Brace Class shows how well our Terriers get along—and with each other. The winner this year (Misty Hollow Decorum Above The Clouds and GCH CH Decorum Turn Up The Drama) was a very well-matched pair. They were alike in coloring, size, and movement. I always judge this class as “a matched pair” that shows well together.


A review of Montgomery wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the weather. Do you have anything to say about the “atmosphere” during this year’s show?

Karen Wilson: What a perfect day for a dog show! In all my years of showing, attending, and judging Montgomery, this has to have been one of the best weather-wise. In the past, we have had rain, snow, wind, flooding, mud, and too hot. We all pray for good weather this weekend of the year, and it worked this year!


Are there specific ways in which this show furthers the cause of purebred dogs, particularly the Terrier breeds?

Karen Wilson: I believe having many shows televised by AKC is a great way to further purebred dogs. It shows the public all types of breeds, many people participating (especially families), different activities we can be involved in with our animals, and that these dogs are really mostly family pets.


A dog show of this magnitude is a monumental undertaking. Is there anything you’d like to say on behalf of the Montgomery County Kennel Club and its members?

Karen Wilson: Every year we look forward to the Montgomery County Kennel Club show. It is a well-organized group of dog fanciers putting on a top-quality show. Members are crowd-friendly and helpful. The rings are large, with lots of tenting. Montgomery should be a MUST for anyone who is planning to judge Terriers.

  • I have had dogs all my life, as has my husband, Gary. We got our first “show dogs” in 1966. I was fortunate to buy an Irish Setter that eventually became successful in the show ring, in obedience, and in field work. She was bred on a limited basis due to our active teenage daughters’ school activities. Gary bought our Airedale while we still lived in California, and she became a great show dog for him. We were always owner-handlers. In 1992, I was approved to judge two breeds (and Gary retired from showing at the same time). I am currently approved to judge all Sporting, Hounds, and Terriers, plus BIS. My judging has taken me to many places in the US, Canada, Asia, South America, Denmark, Australia, etc. I have wonderful memories from having judged several times at Westminster, a few times at the AKC Annual show, plus the wonderful Morris & Essex show, and also a great variety of National and Regional Specialties. I have judged many times at the Montgomery County Kennel Club show—all capped off with this year’s BIS! (We attended our first Montgomery in 1969.) Gary and I have been married 62 years. We have two daughters, 11 grandchildren, and so far, only 22 great-grandchildren.

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