Toy Group Judge Johnny Shoemaker
Group One: CH Pequest Fortune Cookie (Pekingese)
Group Two: GCHG Tamarin Tattoo (Affenpinscher)
Group Three: GCHB Wynmark’s Les Bijoux’s Rock’N Rolz At Reverie (Havanese)
Group Four: GCHB Heavenbound He’s The Prince
Of Peace (Pomeranian)
- Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Toy Group at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin?
Johnny Shoemaker: I was so thrilled when I got the call that the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin wanted me to judge the Toy Group. It made my whole year!! What an honor to be selected, knowing they had trust in me and in my knowledge of the Toy Group breeds.
- What does it mean to judge a Group at the only all-breed show organized directly by the American Kennel Club?
Johnny Shoemaker: First of all, judging a Group at the AKC “show of shows” means so much to me… like I have finally arrived into the inner circle and I will do my best to remain there. I wish to thank the American Kennel Club and the AKC Board of Directors, and especially the President of the AKC, Dennis Sprung, and Jason Taylor for such a great honor.
- In your opinion, how does this show differ from otherAKC events?
Johnny Shoemaker: In a year with COVID, the AKC National Championship Show still maintained its position as one of the top two shows in the world… Westminster being the other show. I believe that the show maintains the goal of the importance of the AKC, and to be presented with the idea of how much fun and excitement this show holds for exhibitors and for those who watch it on AKC.TV and on the AKC broadcast. It is in a place of its own… showcasing the AKC.
- What were you thinking or feeling moments before you stepped into the center of the Toy Group ring?
Johnny Shoemaker: I thought that I would be nervous at first, but then I saw that I was not. This made me more comfortable, knowing that I was actually going to make decisions that would make some people very happy. I actually was doing a little dance before I went into the ring for the second group of dogs to come into the ring. It was so much fun!
- Was there a heightened energy coming from the dog and handler teams? Did you feel the energy of the spectators?
Johnny Shoemaker: I think the heightened energy was coming from the dog and handler teams much more than you would see at a show with, perhaps, 300 entries. Considering that the show had over 5,000 entries, this played into the energy—not only for the handlers, but also for me.
- How challenging was this assignment? Can you share your selection process?
Johnny Shoemaker: This really was not a challenging assignment to me as I believed I could do a good job. My selection process was more challenging as I had lots of dogs in the Toy Group that could have placed in the Group if I had more Group Placements. I believe that when anyone is judging, one must have a selection process and this should be on the exhibit in the ring and how well it fits the breed standard. Lots of the dogs in this Group fit the breed standard to a “T.” Like any time you judge, you must decide what your priorities are in the breed standard, and how the dog moves in the down and back and in profile. After that, you must see which one of these just stands out in front—and then you make your decision.
- Do you have a word or two about your Group winner? About the dogs that placed?
Johnny Shoemaker: In my opinion, the winner of the Toy Group, the Pekingese, just asked for it! He is well-balanced, compact, with the correct heavy front, and very sound. His head was “to die for” with the shape of the topskull massive, broad, and flat, with well-set eyes with great darkness and the perfect shape. When he went around the ring, he appeared dignified, free and strong, with the proper, slight roll. Regal dignity with self-esteem was very evident. My second place was one of the best Affenpinschers I have ever seen. It was well-balanced with the monkey-like facial expression and a wiry-haired, Terrier-like coat. Beautiful in movement also. My third place, the Havanese, was also one of the best I have seen, especially in movement. It was springy, with balance in the front and rear movement. Along with the beautiful head and expression, and the proper movement, I knew this Havanese had to place in the Group. The fourth place Pomeranian had the perfect square within the circle, the compact, short back, and the correct harsh-textured, long outer coat. He went around the ring with a good, high head carriage; cocky, commanding, and animated.
- A dog show of this magnitude is a monumental undertaking. Is there anything you’d like to say on behalf of the AKC and the show’s sponsors?
Johnny Shoemaker: The AKC National Champion Presented by Royal Canin was run perfectly. The people in charge, Dennis Sprung and the AKC Board of Directors, knew exactly what they were doing. The Royal Canin people, Jason Taylor, and other Staff Members of AKC were right there, from taking me to the venue for the Groups to also making me feel so comfortable. It was out of this world! Michael Canalizo, who was the Event Coordinator, did his job to perfection!!! There are so many people to say “thank you” to that it would make a novel in the end.
- Are there specific ways in which this show furthers the cause of purebred dogs?
Johnny Shoemaker: I believe this show had so many events that showcased so many dogs as well as purebred dogs and what they can do. From the Breed rings to Obedience, to the Fast CAT Invitational, to honoring the breeders with the Best Bred-By Exhibitor in each breed, this show is so important. I enjoy the NOHS, but I believe (and this may make me unpopular) that showcasing breeders is the backbone of our sport, and should be in all of the all-breed shows and breed shows.
- Now that it’s over, what are your thoughts on the 2021 show year? What about the year ahead?
Johnny Shoemaker: I believe that 2021 was a good year, even with COVID. Lots of clubs had shows and dealt with the challenges that were ahead of them. I also believe that in 2022 we will have some of the same challenges, but we dog people are able to take on whatever 2022 will hand us, and this is why I am so happy to be a part of this Great Family of Dogs sport!!
Toy Group Judge Johnny Shoemaker interview by Showsight.