Interview with 2022 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Working Group Judge Faye Strauss
When did you learn that you were selected to be one of this year’s Group judges? What was your reaction?
Faye Strauss: It is a thrill to open up the Westminster Kennel Club invitation to judge. When I saw that I was judging the Working Group, I was over the moon with excitement.
The show was once again held at the beautiful Lyndhurst estate. Could you share your thoughts on this historic location?
Faye Strauss: Lyndhurst is an amazing estate. The grounds are so well planned and capitalize on the Hudson River view. We took a tour of the mansion and looked at the playhouse and bowling alley. The home is gorgeous and the tour was very interesting.
How did you prepare for the assignment? What were you thinking/feeling when you stepped onto the floor?
Faye Strauss: Lots of prep went into this assignment, as with any judging assignment. I studied the breed standards and watched the video of how others have handled the live TV judging at Westminster. I attended the pre-show meeting and talked to past Westminster Group judges. Initially, I was concerned about the TV protocols. But as I walked into the group ring, my thoughts were to emulate to the public my love for this sport in hopes that they would want to join us. And I couldn’t wait to judge the winners of the Working Group breeds.
Breed judging was live-streamed each day, and Groups were featured live on Fox Sports. How important is this coverage?
Faye Strauss: It is very important to share our purebred dog shows with the public. They need to know what it means to be purposefully bred to a standard of excellence that has withstood the test of time. They need to know how much thought goes into each of these dogs concerning health, phenotype and genotype, training, and conditioning.
Could you say a few words about Westminster’s significance to the sport of dogs in the 21st Century?
Faye Strauss: Westminster is the Superbowl, the Kentucky Derby, and the 7th game of the finals. This is where the best of the best come to be seen and to win.
In your opinion, how does Westminster reflect positively on the value of the Preservation Breeder?
Faye Strauss: This event is the purebred national. The dogs in competition represent the preservation breeders who carry our breeds forward.
Let’s talk about those dogs! How challenging was the assignment? Could you share your selection process?
Faye Strauss: This was a dream assignment. The Breed judges sent me a star-studded line-up. Judging the best dogs of their breed is an amazing opportunity. Being able to go over and gait each of these superior specimens was beyond a thrill. I had so many good ones that I was forced to make deep cuts based on how they looked and performed. In a perfect world, I would have had more time. But TV demands quick decisions. I was looking for the dogs that looked good in a stack, felt good, and moved according to their standard. I could have included many more dogs on my final cut—the quality was that high.
Do you have a word or two about Working Group winner? About the dogs that placed?
Faye Strauss: My Group winner was commanding. He stood like the ideal Samoyed, with a good amount of leg, the correct coat, and a smooth, hard topline. His head had the wonderful Sammy smile, with tight skin, dark pigment, and the correct, slightly oblique eyes, short well-furred ears, etc., etc., etc. And his gait was strong and true. He brought his “A” game. My second place Doberman Pinscher showed the breed’s alert, determined, and noble temperament, and she moved with drive and spirit. My third place Standard Schnauzer was another amazing dog, with good proportions, hard wiry coat, and another sound mover. My fourth place Giant Schnauzer felt good, with a definedforechest and a good coat. He will be one to watch in the future.
Would you like to share a few words with the members of the Westminster Kennel Club?
Faye Strauss: Westminster KC is a well-oiled machine. After 146 years, these people know how to put on a show and how to make the judges feel special. The David’s had a superior team to make the show run smoothly. Florence and Kramer were great to work with and they were quick to answer any questions. I would like to thank the club. They showered us with gifts, good food and drink, and a glamorous dinner and after show party.
Have you got any advice to offer next year’s Group judges?
Faye Strauss: I would say, talk to Jimmy Mitchell and listen to Dom, and once you get into the Group you’ll know what to do. Just judge the dogs as they look on the day. You’re nervous before, but once you walk down the line, the dogs become the focus and you will go into your comfort zone.
2022 WKC WORKING GROUP RESULTS:
G1 GCHP CH Vanderbilt ‘N Printemp’s Lucky Strike
G2 GCHB CH Alcher Tmac Witchcraft V Gentry
G3 GCHG CH Crivitz Humphrey Bogart Von Diable
G4 CH Hearthmore’s Wintergreen Mountain CGC TKN