Interview with 2022 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Hound Group Judge Eugene Blake
When did you learn that you were selected to be one of this year’s Group judges? What was your reaction?
The show was once again held at the beautiful Lyndhurst estate. Could you share your thoughts on this historic location?
The site is beautiful and Westminster Kennel Club does everything imaginable to bring this show to the fancy, as close as possible as being held in Madison Square Garden.
How did you prepare for the assignment? What were you thinking/feeling when you stepped onto the floor?
Eugene Blake: I always feel confident in my ability to judge dogs, to the AKC standards. My concern was being able to judge in the format required for live television. The show chairman, David Haddock, reviewed the entire process with me, and after that, I was completely comfortable with the process.
Breed judging was live-streamed each day, and Groups were featured live on Fox Sports. How important is this coverage?
Eugene Blake: I believe that coverage is essential to the fancy and the general public. Not everyone has the good fortune to attend Westminster Kennel Club. It puts you right there with everyone else, being able to view the live stream and the live television coverage. I know my friends and family were thrilled to be able to watch me judge the Hound Group on television. To the Fox Sports team, thank you for your amazing work showcasing purebred dogs to the world.
Could you say a few words about Westminster’s significance to the sport of dogs in the 21st Century?
Eugene Blake: Westminster Kennel Club is known throughout the world. If you stop a stranger on the street and ask them if they have ever watched a dog show on television, they will say, “Yes, Westminster in New York.” It is so educational to the general public and to dog owners.
In your opinion, how does Westminster reflect positively on the value of the Preservation Breeder?
Eugene Blake: Yes, Westminster reflects positively on the Preservation Breeder, especially when the breeder/owner-handler is highlighted in the commentary.
Let’s talk about those dogs! How challenging was the assignment? Could you share your selection process?
Eugene Blake: The Hound Group was steeped with quality. Many of those dogs I had already judged and rewarded. I cut 11 dogs, and I wish I could have cut more. So many of those dogs were deserving, but unfortunately, there are just four ribbons that I could hand out.
Do you have a word or two about your Group winner? About the dogs that placed?
Eugene Blake: Each dog was an excellent example of breed type. At that level of competition, you have to split hairs to make a decision. For the Bloodhound, it was his night. I congratulate all the breeders and handlers. Without the dedicated breeders, our sport would not continue to thrive.
Would you like to share a few words with the members of the Westminster Kennel Club?
Eugene Blake: To say that it was an honor to judge for Westminster is an understatement. I really do not think I could ever express how much this assignment meant to me. Each and every moment I will cherish… and the memory of the beautiful dogs. I want to thank the Westminster Kennel Club officers, the dog show committee, David W. Haddock and David A. Helming, along with the members for entrusting me with this very special assignment.
I really do not think I could ever express how much this assignment meant to me.
Have you got any advice to offer next year’s Group judges?
Eugene Blake: Not really, I am quite sure their experience will be unique to them. I just wish them all the best and I look forward to watching them judge.
2022 WKC HOUND GROUP RESULTS:
G1 GCHB CH Flessner’s Toot My Own Horn
G2 GCHG CH Justart Majenkir Status Symbol
G3 GCH CH Vin-Melca’s Joyride
G4 GCHS CH Blythmoor Sheez-Beez Tell Me No Tales