Interview with Herding Group Judge Mary Murphy-East
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a judge?
Mary Murphy-East: I live in Eagan, Minnesota. I had to use other people’s dogs for companionship while growing up. I got my own dog in 1978 when I got my first Bearded Collie. I have been judging for 17 years.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Mary Murphy-East: My original breed is the Bearded Collie. My kennel name is Marjac.
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or parent club titles?
Mary Murphy-East: Many Marjac Beardies have herding, agility, and obedience titles as well as conformation.
What are the qualities I most admire in the Herding breeds?
Mary Murphy-East: Herding breeds are problem-solvers and are very close to their family. A child has parents and a “nanny” if there is a Herding breed in the mix.
Have I judged any Herding Group Specialties?
Mary Murphy-East: I’ve judged some of the Herding Group shows in Alaska and New Jersey.
Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Herding breeds?
Mary Murphy-East: Most Herding breeds are correct in their proportions. Some of the breeds need the right size and substance to do their jobs. I find smaller or larger animals sometimes have a problem functioning efficiently.
Is breed-specific presentation important to me as a judge? Can I offer some examples?
Mary Murphy-East: Some of the breeds need to be hand-stacked while others walk into a stack. I appreciate seeing how the dog stands naturally. The standards are written to emphasize the points most important to each breed. When presenting the dog, it is great if the exhibitor can highlight those breed qualities.
What about breed-specific movement? Do I demand this from Herding Dogs?
Mary Murphy-East: I really want to see the dog move at the correct speed for its breed. Not every breed is meant to move at the speed of light. Exhibitors who can resist the urge to move with the pack and decide to move their dog at the correct speed have my respect. In the herding world, dogs moving too fast takes weight off the livestock—which can cost the rancher money at the sale barn. In the show ring, excessive speed or too tight a lead can really throw off the moving picture of the dog. Also, allowing for proper head carriage can open the shoulder, giving better reach.
Are the Herding breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns?
Mary Murphy-East: Most of the Herding breeds are in good shape. I personally would like to see more emphasis on good structure and conditioning, with a little less on the grooming. A lovely animal should be able to stand and move while maintaining its shape.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Herding Dogs of the past?
Mary Murphy-East: The Herding Dogs of the past had a different set of challenges than the dogs do today. In most breeds, the majors in the past required beating a larger number of animals along with fewer shows to compete in for those majors. The challenges today are to find the major and be ready to compete when the opportunity is available. The Herding breeds today have fewer animals to beat for a major, but the breed populations are dwindling.
Why do I think Herding Dogs can often become outstanding Show Dogs?
Mary Murphy-East: The Herding breed traits of being a second shadow while trying to anticipate the human’s desire and having a situational awareness brings a unique sparkle to the show ring. Herding breeds are very aware of their people and their surroundings at all times.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences judging the Herding Group?
Mary Murphy-East: I had a ring full of Bouviers, with many young dogs. In the Bred-By Class, one bitch was giving her handler a little push-back. I asked the handler to do the down and back again, but to try using a loose lead. That young bitch came right back, strutting her stuff, but only if she was allowed to carry the leash in her mouth. She walked down and back and set herself up in a perfect stack at the end. She was willing to comply, but with her own special flair. Did I say that I love naughty puppies?