I have a very eclectic background in the love of all dogs, starting as a toddler and growing up in Brooklyn, New York. Sadly, career-wise, I had to choose a career in loss prevention. I had to get my canine fix at local shelters, feeding strays, and befriending guard dogs in commercial lots. Later, retiring to buy a farm was a dream come true. However, destiny gave me four-legged children instead of two. This sent me down a 25-year adventure handling some of the rarest Molosser breeds, each with a unique ancient history. The little girl who rushed home to watch Lassie was now traveling the world handling, training, testing, and later, judging dogs.
For me, my judging started as a replacement judge for a 2004 Canadian Rare Molosser Show and spiraled into judging Nationals Specialties, hosting my own events, and having the greatest opportunity to apprentice under the top FCI Judges for FCI Group Two. Sadly, a medical event put me into early retirement from running with the big dogs. So, my husband and I retired to Florida with dogs and horses.
Coming from 25-plus years of everything Rare Breed Dog, it was a natural step to take up my work with AKC. I joined a great club and they convinced me to start ring stewarding. When I entered a local Brooksville, Florida, AKC Temperament Test (ATT) event, a colleague convinced me to add Farm Dog and ATT judging certification to my resume. It took me about 30-plus ring stewarding assignments to transfer 25 years of FCI knowledge to AKC procedures. Once I put the rules to memory and completed the requirements, however, I was approved to judge Open Shows.
It became a passion project to convince others to add Open Shows. I had a goal of one day making Florida the largest concentration of Open Shows. When I’d arrived, there were between three and six shows per year. I’m proud to say that we are now scheduling over 20 a year. Innovative show chairs from Florida have now added Open Shows in Oklahoma as well, and other states have contacted me for some ideas.
Here is a little tidbit about the future first “table” breed of the Working Group.
Written by the Danish Swedish Farmdog Club of America With Permission from President Aimee Kincaid
The Danish Swedish Farmdog (DSF) was accepted into FSS in 2011 and was moved to the Miscellaneous Class in June 2021.
The DSF served as an able little Farmdog, alerting its owners to the presence of strangers approaching the farm. Its warning bark serves strictly as a “doorbell” function. It must never show aggression, quieting as soon as the owner accepts the visitors.
Side Note by Jeannine Volpe Jeffrey
Danish Swedish Farmdogs are excelling at Fast CAT, Barn Hunt, Rally, Obedience, Dock Diving, Agility, Flyball, Scent Work, and, of course, Conformation. At home, they are natural ratters—and gophers beware. On the flip side, they are little smooch monsters. When working, they have a heart of a much bigger dog. As many people say: it’s not the size of a dog, it’s the size of the heart in the dog. So, whether it’s hunting rats or running an Agility course, these dogs are super dogs.
The Field of Dreams is Expanding
Simple gestures can go a long way, which resulted in our making history in Brooksville. All it took was simply contacting and inviting the parent club when a breed got fully recognized (January and July). By recognizing their achievement and sponsoring a stunning engraved bedazzled tumbler for Best of Breed, the Mudi Club of America paid us back with over 20 Mudi for the entire cluster. This cluster never had a MISC Mudi entered. We can proudly say that Brooksville made history with the first-ever Champion and Grand Champion Mudi. In addition, half of them came back. (I guess they fell in love with Florida.)
Not surprisingly, our Open Shows have grown our MISC Classes from 0-2 dogs to 15-20. New goals are Group rosettes for MISC in regular shows, plus adding MISC and FSS to our special attractions.
Juniors have been asking for something special in Open Shows. Ultimately, I would like to be able to have a “Best of the Best” in Brooksville, based on all the Best in Open Show (BIOS) winners from the previous year.
I wish to thank all the clubs, show chairs, and judges who have donated their time to build a Florida Field of Dreams. Of special note is AKC Field Rep Mike Szabo who put us back into a growing momentum when I’d hit a plateau adding Open Shows. Most important are the exhibitors who have shown incredibly good sportsmanship. I intend on making sure that Open Shows continue to grow, even after I pass. I can’t think of a better legacy.
And thanks to SHOWSIGHT for featuring many FSS and MISC breeds. Let’s all take a page from them and realize there is an untouched “vein of gold” in Open Show exhibitors who are waiting for their moment to shine.
It would be impossible to itemize here all of the many benefits, rules, and tips regarding hosting or judging Open Shows, but here are some bullet points.
- Hosting Open Shows will accelerate the process by which breeds are fully recognized; from FSS to MISC to full status.
- Unequivocally, you are investing in your own future entries.
- MISC breeds are now accepted to show 3x per day. So, if you host two Open Shows and one all-breed show, you will be tripling your entries as well as increasing the points available to exhibitors; a much-needed requirement to earn your Certificate of Merit (CM) points.
- In addition, you are also helping the present and future generation of judges. Judges earn two (2) points per show for their initial breed application. After passing the Open Show test, senior as well new judges will earn C.E.U points towards the breeds they judge.
- 411: The biggest mistake a club can make is only putting on one Open Show a day (unless in conjunction with a big cluster).
- In general, the exhibitors in FSS will not travel outside their general area or state for one show. It is recommended to have two per day.
- Please join your local club. Ask them to host an Open Show (AFTER you offer to volunteer).
- Joining a club gives you access to a smorgasbord of knowledgeable people who can help you. Some of them will become friends for life.
I found a great article by Linda Hurlebaus in the AKC Judges Blog archives. I am going to quote her, with permission:
“Those of us that judge the Miscellaneous classes are the precursors of the experience. Let’s make it enjoyable.” If you were assigned Open Shows or Miscellaneous, “going through the motions is simply not acceptable by any means.”
Everyone owes a debt of gratitude to the people who have sacrificed and worked relentlessly to get their breeds recognized. I challenge you to pay that debt back by adding Open Shows and writing about your great judging experiences welcoming the future generations of AKC exhibitors.