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Interview with Michael Faulkner – 2024 WKC Dog Show Herding Group Judge

Michael Faulkner

Interview with Michael Faulkner – 2024 WKC Dog Show Herding Group Judge

Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Herding Group at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?

Michael Faulkner: My reaction was filled with joy, pride, and profound respect.

What does it mean to judge a Group at this historic event?

Michael Faulkner: Judging at the Breed or Group level at The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show means that somewhere along the line I have, and continue to approach this sport with, respect, dignity, humility, and a keen passion to continue learning.

In your opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC shows?

Michael Faulkner: The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is rich in history and tradition, it is like no other…

What were you thinking or feeling moments before you stepped into the center of the Group ring?

Michael Faulkner: Prior to stepping into the ring, I was mindful of the extreme joy I felt and grateful for all those past and present who contributed to my lifelong journey in the sport. I was also reminding myself to stand up straight, get the job done, and suck in my gut. LOL!

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

Michael Faulkner: I was so focused on the task, I did not take notice to external energy.

How challenging was this assignment?

Michael Faulkner: I would say the assignment was more enjoyable than challenging. Just judge them on the day!

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

Michael Faulkner:  Group One: GCHG Kaleef’s Mercedes (German Shepherd Dog) Bred by Sheree Moses, Lauren Figler, M. Llewelyn, and J. Hamilton. Owned by Cynthian Wilhelmy and Sheree Moses.

A beautiful German Shepherd with the look of quality, nobility, and strength. She harnessed all of these attributes and moved with purpose, balance, and perfect timing. Handled to perfection, she was guided forward, drawing me into her soul. I could feel her every heartbeat as she went around the ring—smooth, ground-covering, rhythmic, and oozing breed type.

Group Two: GCHG Bagatelle Rainbow Moon (Old English Sheepdog) Bred by Joanne Charest. Owned by Roberta Corbett and Bernard & Joanne Charest.

One of the beautiful things about this strong, compact, square Old English Sheepdog is there is no denying that she is “ALL GIRL.” Shown in excellent condition, not over-produced, and moved with free and powerful ease. I particularly appreciated her strong head properties without being overdone, and her correct outline, standing lower at the withers than at the loin, with a beautifully constructed, broad hindquarter.

Group Three: GCHG Cloudpointe Ringside Gossip (Norwegian Buhund) Bred by Amelia McLaughlin. Owned by Amelia McLaughlin, Garrison Sharp, and Laurel & Marc Denk.

This Norwegian Buhund was captivating on the night! Squarely built, lovely wedge-shaped head, tightly curled tail, perfect ears that provided the framework for free and effortless movement. Shown in excellent condition and presented flawlessly by his handler. I so appreciated his balance and moderation both front and rear.

Group Four: GCHB Meadows’ Turn The Paige RN CA (Bearded Collie) Bred by Eileen Eaton and Claudia McNulty. Owned by Julie Kempster and Bea Sawka.

From the tip of her nose to the end of her tail, this lovely girl typified the Breed Standard. Her flowing lines, long lean body, bright expression, amazing coat texture, and active personality, combined with strength and agility on the move, secured her a placement. Her timing, both standing and on the move, was breed-specific and showcased her amazing temperament.

There is no other show quite like Westminster. Is there anything you’d like to say to the Officers of The Westminster Kennel Club?

Michael Faulkner: My heart is filled with gratitude and respect!

Are there specific ways in which this show furthers the cause of purebred dogs?

Michael Faulkner: I think it’s obvious through so many channels, opportunities, and programs offered.

Now that your assignment is complete, what does Westminster mean to you personally?

Michael Faulkner: As a Junior Handler, Professional Handler, Breeder/Owner-Handler, and Judge, The Westminster Kennel Club has been a benchmark for success and respect.