WHEW! I have been in Portland, OR for the last few days immersed in absolutely everything French Bulldog. I had the huge honor of judging the Top Twenty competition at the French Bulldog 2012 National Specialty. The judges are sworn to secrecy and we could not squeak a word to anyone (I did tell Steve) until they announce us at the show.
There are three judges; an AKC judge, a Breeder Judge (me) and a Mystery Judge who are all selected by the club membership by ballot. This makes it an even greater honor, as we were all chosen by our peers for this responsibility. While we laughed and had fun, I can share that each of us took it very seriously and were very well aware of the trust that had been placed in our hands.
I am actually still on the plane flying home, but will find some pictures to share also when everyone who was organized and took pictures is home.
The Top Twenty is a black tie event and I was sparkly…what a delight to find a fun outfit and dress up for a change! But, I am 5’4″ or so and wore a flatter shoe and was next to Nanette Goldberg who must be at least 6′ in heels and Robin Stansell, the AKC Judge, is well over 6’…so I was wishing I had endured the agony of heels – hahaha!
Allow me to share a bit on how the judging works…
The way the judging is set-up is interesting. Three dogs at a time come out and move around the ring and we then score each of them 1-5 on first impression, which is used as a tie-breaker, if needed.
Then each of those three are put up on a table and each of the three judges examines the three dogs on the tables, one-by-one. Then the dogs and handlers move around the ring, one at a time, and we score them 1-5 on a lot of categories! For example; coat and condition, head and neck, facial expression, movement, overall shape (I am paraphrasing here) and more. A dog could score great on head and not as great on front legs, for example. I loved that the 1-5 is Best-Excellent, as each of these dogs are already the BEST of the BEST, as they are in the Top Twenty of all French Bulldogs shown that year!
At the end of judging all of the dogs the score sheets are taken, combined and averaged and the winners determined. We, as judges, did not actually pick one one dog as the winner! Actually, unless one were purposefully “skewing” their score sheets, you do not even know who you scored the highest. I know the top three or four that I had in mind after I had my hands on the dogs and watched them move, but with the judging system like it is, I do not even know which one I scored the highest. Really cool system, it does free you up to just focus on the one dog in front of you and not have to even think about the end result!
There is also a “People’s Choice” competition which is, as you probably guessed, taken from the crowd’s votes. This one is always a lot of fun. This year, for only the second time, the Top Twenty Winner selected by the judges (us-hehehe) and the People’s Choice was the same dog! Nice to see the unanimous choice.
A lovely dog who actually won the whole shebang (Best in Specialty Show) in 2011, BISS Gr CH.Lionheart’s Thumbs UP! was the Best of Breed winner and the People’s Choice (as mentioned above). Best of Opposite went to BISS GrCH Pudgybull BonBon Bouffant Of Hollywood CGC, ROM.
It truly was a BLONDE night at the Top Twenty!
When I find more pictures and videos I will share them here. AND I will have a run-down on all the fun we had at The Blissful Dog booth!