Interview with Working Group Judge Ken Buxton
I have been active in the dog fancy since 1966 when my wife, Donna, and I purchased our first St. Bernard. We have been active as breeders, trainers, and exhibitors in Conformation, Obedience, and Tracking. We have finished many St. Bernards to their championships with limited showing. We also owned a Siberian Husky. In 1979, I was first approved to judge Obedience and I am now approved to judge all Obedience, Rally, and Tracking classes. My first love is St. Bernards, and will always be. I have had the privilege of judging the St. Bernard National Specialaty five times as well as several other national specialties. I am approved to judge the Sporting, Working, Non-Sporting, and Herding Groups. I now judge approximately 40 shows a year.
I enjoy sharing my love of dogs with people around the world. I have had the opportunity to judge throughout the United States as well as in Russia, Columbia, Venezuela, Bermuda, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, S. Korea, Japan, Australia, Jamaica, South Africa, France, and Canada.
I retired in 1995 as an Accounting Manager with a large equipment manufacturer. I graduated from Chase College with majors in Economics and Finance. I have served on the Board of ADSJ for 25 years; and several kennel clubs in various positions. I serve on the Board of a retirement home and church council.
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many as a judge?
Ken Buxton: I live in Kingwood, Texas. I have been in dogs for 56 years; judging for 44 years.
What is my original breed? What is/was my kennel name?
Ken Buxton: The St. Bernard is my original breed; kennel name, Twin Oaks.
Can I list a few of the notable dogs I’ve bred? Any performance or Parent club titles?
Ken Buxton: Notable dogs include: Ch. Twin Oaks Cinnamon Bear UDT, the first St. Bernard to get all titles at that time (and our first homebred champion out of our first litter); Twin Oak Honey Bear UDT, the top St. Bernard in Obedience for four years, High in Trial at five National Specialties; Ch. Osage’s Uba (Best of Opposite Sex, 1993 National Specialty); and many Specialty winners. We never campaigned a dog.
What are the qualities I most admire in the working breeds?
Ken Buxton: I most admire balance, strength, and substance.
Have I judged any working group specialties?
Ken Buxton: I have judged specialties for most of the dogs in the Working Group; many national specialties.
Do I find that size, proportion, and substance are correct in most Working breeds?
Ken Buxton: I think it has become more consistent, but there is still room for improvement.
Is breed-specific presentation important to me as a judge? Can I offer some examples?
Ken Buxton: Good presentation is helpful. My job is to find the best dog in the class. (It always makes me think of the first time I went into the ring.)
What are my thoughts on cropping/docking the Working breeds?
Ken Buxton: I have become accustomed to seeing normally cropped and docked dogs with natural ears and complete tails. I look for the best overall dog.
Are the Working breeds in good shape overall? Any concerns?
Ken Buxton: Working Dogs are in better shape now. The Working Group is very strong in most areas. My biggest concerns are with the dogs being too long in body or short on leg.
In my opinion, how do today’s exhibits compare with the Working dogs of the past?
Ken Buxton: Overall, the dogs are better.
Why do I think the Working breeds are so admired as family companions?
Ken Buxton: They are dedicated, loving animals. Some can be clowns, others protective, but all love their family.
Just for laughs, do I have a funny story I can share about my experiences judging the Working Group?
Ken Buxton: When our son was young, he attended a specialty that I was judging. He picked out all of the dogs that I awarded… and he let the people around him know it. He was very consistent with my placings.