Interview with Kathleen Ferris, Terrier Group AKC Judge
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as an AKC judge?
Kathleen Ferris: I live in Holland, Pennsylvania. I have 50 years in dogs, 17 years as a judge.
Do I have any hobbies or interests outside of purebred dogs?
Kathleen Ferris: I enjoy cooking, wines, and gaming.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Kathleen Ferris: My original breed is the Scottish Terrier. My kennel name is Wychwood Kennels.
Have I judged any Terrier Breed/Group Specialties?
Kathleen Ferris: Yes.
Do I have any thoughts on the status of so many Terriers as “low entry” breeds?
Kathleen Ferris: I believe the fact that many of our breeds have small litters contributes, but the larger problem is encouraging more people to want to become breeders. Many breeders as I was growing up inadvertently contributed to the problem. Too many sold their dogs with mandatory spay/neuter contracts instead of waiting to see how the puppies developed and maybe try to encourage the owners to breed or show them.
Breeders also started to demonize the high-volume breeder as if that meant low quality when, in fact, that is how all the great kennels of the past operated. We need a greater system of support and encouragement to all breeders, new and established.
What about the overall quality of Terriers at all-breed shows? Do low entries mean low quality?
Kathleen Ferris: Low entries do not mean low quality. However, too many dog shows can reward low quality as there is less competition. We almost give points for just showing up these days and that is not evaluating breeding stock. When we had less choices of where to show on any given weekend, we had to come together against each other in larger entries. Competition helps foster quality and encourages better grooming and conditioning of all participants.
Are there areas of the country where Terriers are particularly strong?
Kathleen Ferris: Any areas where they are in trouble? I do not think there is any one area. Again, too many shows/options waters-down competition and that means there is greater opportunity for lesser quality specimens to finish. This is a problem nationwide.
Do Terriers provide a challenge for judges who come from breeds in the other Groups?
Kathleen Ferris: Yes. There are misconceptions about Terriers, especially structure and grooming. Terriers are working breeds and they need to follow form and function. This gets overlooked when a new judge is impressed with showmanship and a fancy trim, which may not be correct but may be “pretty.”
Have there been judges who have influenced my decision to judge? Influenced my manner of judging?
Kathleen Ferris: Yes; Richard Hensel, Anne Rodgers Clark, and Edd Biven.
If I could share my life with only one Terrier breed, which breed would it be and why?
Kathleen Ferris: Scotties, of course. Why would I want anything else? They are stubborn, independent, feisty, loyal, and intelligent, with a sense of humor and a discerning attitude about who they like and trust.
Do I have a “Montgomery Memory” that best summarizes my feelings about Terriers in general?
Kathleen Ferris: The best memory is arriving at Montgomery, unloading crates and equipment in the near dark. Then, looking out in the early dawn at the rings and the tents, and thinking what a truly incredibly special show it is. So many incredible dogs and people will be here. Nothing else like it in the world, and I get to be part of it.