By and For People Who Shape The Sport Of Dogs







Rosemarie (Rose) O'Hara

by Gini Addamo, Meet The Judge Columnist


Approved for: RNov, RAdv, RExc, Many Herding, Sporting and a few other breeds.


As we look around ringside and note the vigor and health of elder judges, we should count our blessings that we are a part of showing dogs.  There's much we can learn from those senior judges who remain involved and engaged.  Dogs do keep us healthy!


TDP: In which judged activity did you first compete?  Obedience, Conformation, or Performance?

RAO: Obedience.


TDP: About when was that and with what breed?

RAO: Fall, 1980 with a Sable Shetland Sheepdog.


TDP: Did you owner handle or have you always used handlers?

RAO: I have always handled my own dogs in Obedience and Performance and very occasionally used a friend (usually the dog’s breeder or sire’s owner in the case of one of my pups and they handled the dog without being paid, and I’ve done the same for other friends) to handle in conformation but mainly showed my own dogs.


TDP: What is/was your primary breed and how long were you involved?

RAO: I started out showing Irish Setters, but quickly moved to Shetland Sheepdogs for many, many years and for the past 10 years, Australian Shepherds. There has usually also been a rescue dog of some kind as a permanent resident. Formerly that dog was our beloved chocolate Lab, Quik, now it’s my husband’s rescue Min Pin, China.


TDP: In what single area has that breed most improved?

RAO: Shetland Sheepdogs have NOT improved, and Aussies didn’t particularly need to, they simply need to maintain what they have always been---an attractive working dog of great versatility.


TDP: What is the biggest problem you see in the breed today?

RAO: In Shetland Sheepdogs, it’s temperament and in Australian Shepherds it’s health issues, specifically Epilepsy.


TDP: Do you have a “personal” dog now and if so, what breed?

RAO: Yes, I have six “personal dogs”, five are Aussies, four of my own breeding, and one rescue Min Pin girl who claims my husband. They are all loved equally and worked regularly.


TDP: Do you own other animals?  If so, what?

RAO: I don’t have other animals at the moment but would love to add a miniature horse eventually.


TDP: Do you think the purebred dog is better today than it was 20 years ago?  Why is that?

RAO: If it is, it is because more people are more interested in performance sports, and that requires a good temperament and excellent structure as well as good health.


TDP: Which do you feel is more important in a breeding program, the dog or the bitch?  Why?

RAO: Both are equally important!


TDP: When considering a breeding, which do you look at first, pedigree or physical virtues?

RAO: I look at pedigree to ensure that I am not crossing too closely into lines that are already present, but would never make a decision based solely on pedigree.


TDP: What is the single most important physical characteristic you look for in a dog?

Overall type and structure. The whole picture has to be there. I don’t just look at one part, it’s how they function together that counts.


TDP: In what field are/were you employed outside of dogs?

RAO: OUTSIDE of dogs---NOPE. My husband has always been generous enough to help me follow my dream of ALWAYS being about the dogs outside of my own family. I’ve been involved mostly as a trainer and for several years (because I had a strong curiosity) I worked as a vet tech, too. Never made a lot of money at it, but that wasn’t the goal. Making a difference and learning were the goals, and we sacrificed whenever necessary so that I could do just that.


TDP: About how long have you been judging?

RAO: Conformation since 1993, Obedience since 1990, Rally since 2005.


TDP: How many breeds, groups, or classes are you currently approved for?

RAO: All levels obedience; all levels Rally; in conformation, I do most of the herding breeds, most of the hunting/sporting breeds, many of the guardian breeds, and a few toy breeds, a few terriers, and of the “big 3” at the moment I am only approved to judge APBT’s, but intend to add the other two.


TDP: Do you plan to apply for more breeds/groups?

RAO: Yes.


TDP: Which breed (or group) do you personally enjoy doing the most?

RAO: Herding.


TDP: What is the most annoying thing exhibitors do?

RAO: Make stewards search for them to start the class.


TDP: What is the most important thing exhibitors shoulddo in your ring?

RAO: Have a loose lead.


TDP: Do you usually fly or drive to your assignments?  Which do you prefer?

RAO: I do both. I don’t think I have a preference. <G> I’m pretty patient about traveling.


TDP: Have you judged in another country, if so, where and which breeds?

RAO: No, and I don’t think I am aimed that way. Very time consuming and since I still very actively compete with my own dogs in several sports, I would prefer to be able to continue to do that.


TDP: Have you judged for another registry, if so, which one and which breeds?

RAO: ASCA, and some Rare Breed Associations. I enjoy the challenge of learning a rare breed and getting it right.


TDP: What is the most inconsiderate thing a kennel club can do to its judges?

RAO: Not give them a reliable contact person they can actually REACH while they are traveling and not making sure they are met at the airport.


TDP: What is the nicest thing a kennel club can do for the judges?

RAO: Provide the above and be friendly and welcoming.


TDP: What do you look at first when you turn to assess a class or group?

RAO: Type.


TDP: Do you evaluate puppies as puppies or as adults when selecting winners?

RAO: That is difficult to quantify. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t at least take into consideration to some degree the fact that they are puppies. But I only let it weigh into the final decision if EVERYTHING else is equal between the puppy and the adult. If everything is equal, I will award the adult because I am sure that the promise has been fulfilled in the adult and is not yet fulfilled completely in the puppy. Otherwise, each dog is evaluated as they stand before right then. If the puppy is good enough to beat the adult as he is that day, then he deserves the win and gets it from me.


TDP: Are you a Delegate.  If so, does your club instruct or do you vote on your perception?

RAO: No.


TDP: Are you comfortable with Breed Take-Away and the Reps new authority in that regard?

RAO: I would be, yes.


TDP: What advice would you give aspiring judges?

RAO: Learn to read and understand standards, REALLY understand them and the proper use of the terms in them. Many standards have terms in them that it is very obvious that the breeders don’t understand because there are breeds with terms like “a well laid back shoulder” and you almost never SEE a “well laid back shoulder” in that breed! Either the breeders don’t understand that term, or someone who wrote the standard didn’t understand what it meant, because they aren’t producing dogs that have that trait to any desirable degree and judges are rewarding it without comment. EVERYONE who breeds should take the time and make the effort to learn what their standard’s terms really mean and this applies double or triple to judges! Breeders rely on the judge to help guide their efforts by rewarding the best traits in the ring. If you can’t do that properly, you damage the breed, sometimes irrevocably. EST 2005 Aug 2006'Hara-Rosemarie-068.asp

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The Ring Steward says "Go back to Meet The Judges!" We invite you to read interviews with other prominent AKC judges and Judging Legends. As you attend shows this year, make mental notes about who you will nominate next year!


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