Interview with 2022 AKC National Championship Non-Sporting Group Judge Pamela Bruce
Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Non-Sporting Group at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin?
Pamela Bruce: I am always incredibly grateful to judge the AKC National Championship. It is a breeder’s dream with such depth in all classes.
What does it mean to judge a Group at the only all-breed show organized directly by the American Kennel Club?
Pamela Bruce: It is an absolute honor with a responsibility that I do not accept lightly, nor take for granted.
In your opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC events?
Pamela Bruce: The size of the show is incredible with so many moving parts—run like a well-oiled machine by Michael Canalizo and crew. The depth of every single class is both mind-boggling and rewarding. The opportunity to judge quality dogs from all over the world is awesome!
What were you thinking or feeling moments before you stepped into the center of the Non-Sporting Group ring?
Pamela Bruce: I was actually quite calm, as I am comfortable with the task at hand. I am beyond grateful to those who support me and know my decisions will be made with the best of intentions. I try to put forward dogs that I believe represent their breed as excellent breeding stock.
Was there a heightened energy coming from the dog and handler teams? Did you feel the energy of the spectators?
Pamela Bruce: The dog and handler teams varied greatly. Some were “seasoned show dogs,” but for some, it appeared to be more of a challenge in the venue—saying that every team handled the ring to the best of their ability. I have to be cognizant of the individual breed, how they should be presented and their character, etc.
I do not ever really hear the spectators at the time, and I cannot see them with the lighting. My job is to focus on the exhibits in front of me.
How challenging was this assignment? Can you share your selection process?
Pamela Bruce: There were MANY dogs I greatly appreciated that did not even make my final cut. Selections come from my interpretation of the Breed Standards as well as conditioning and presentation of the dogs on the day.
It should be noted that the gallery sees the dogs for the entire time they are in the Group. I have to focus on each dog for a couple of minutes, and my decisions are then expected to be efficient and to the best of my ability.
Do you have a word or two about your Group winner? About the dogs that placed?
Group First – Bulldog: GCHS Cherokee Legend Encore held the air of a queen holding court. She was wonderful to the hand. In my opinion, on the day, she was as close to the Breed Standard personified as I have ever experienced.
My final four Group selections were in excellent condition, and in my opinion, each represented their specific breed/variety well.
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?
Pamela Bruce: I cannot speak on their behalf, but perhaps on behalf of the dog fancy. On every level, we are beyond grateful to the AKC and Royal Canin for the opportunity to present, evaluate, and share our purebred dogs at such an incredible world-class event!
Are there specific ways in which this show furthers the cause of purebred dogs?
Pamela Bruce: ABSOLUTELY! This event is a true dog person’s dog show. The size of the entries and quality of the exhibits, with every breed being represented, along with the exposure to every possible form of canine competition under one roof is a monumental task.
The televised event afterward is another great form of exposure to the purebred dog, literally being delivered into the living rooms of the public on a worldwide forum. How wonderful is that?!
Now that it’s over, what are your thoughts on the 2022 event? Any thoughts on the year ahead?
Pamela Bruce: I believe this 2022 AKC National Championship was truly a world-class event. The final BIS line-up was about the best I have ever seen—with seven dogs of incredible breed type representing their individual Groups in the greatest manner possible. One could point to any combination and not be wrong!
My wish for the year ahead is another incredible event. I wish for everyone to have the opportunity for great success in whatever their dreams and goals may hold.
I hope that we are kind to each other and remember that the ideal of every dedicated judge is to do the best they can on the day with the dogs before them. This is a competition—BUT—the dogs MUST always come first.
May I suggest to the social media keyboard warriors who disrespect our sport, our passion, our judges, and the dogs awarded and their people, that they contribute to our sport by educating themselves and dedicating their efforts in a positive way. If they truly believe they can affect change, apply to judge and, by all means, step into the center of the ring and give back their best efforts OR step off and either stay in their lane or choose another pastime that will contribute to life in a positive manner! May they find their own source of joy and not tarnish things for the rest of us.