By and For People Who Shape The Sport Of Dogs







Marion Dee "Mardee" Ward

Top Five Candidate, Judging Legend 2006

interviewed by Gini Addamo, TheDogPress Columnist


Approved for: All Working Breeds, Norwegian Elkhound, American Eskimo, Shiba Inu, Australian Shepherd, JS, Best In Show (BIS), Group 3 (as of interview date August 2006)


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!


MEET THE JUDGE IN THEDOGPLACE - MARION "MARDEE" WARDMarion Dee “Mardee’ Ward was born “into” the world of dogs as daughter of Robert and Dolly Ward* (both were multi group judges and authors of three books on the Samoyed) now deceased. Mardee began sledding dogs and obedience and conformation at age 8. She trained and titled Sammys and Corgis in obedience. She began Hoof ‘n Paw Samoyeds in 1966 and has bred over 75 champions in Samoyeds, and 5 champion Shiba Inus. She has produced 6 BIS winning Samoyeds and currently has the all time winning Sammy bitch “Ana” who has a record 9 BIS and 9 BISS (including the National in 1996)


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

MW: Conformation.


TDP: About when was that and with what breed?

MW: Samoyed (pronounced Sam-a-yed).


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

MW: Owner handled and some handlers.


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

MW: Samoyed  for 58 years!


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

MW: It hasn’t; the breed is losing its proportion of leg to height; needed to move and work.


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

MW: Lack of leg; out of proportion; athleticism.


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

MW: Samoyed and Australian Shepherd.


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

MW: Shibas, Siberian Husky, Labrador Retriever, cows, horses, cats.


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

MW: No it isn’t because working dogs for example are not being bred structurally for doing the purpose for which they were designed.


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

MW: The dam is more important than sire because she passes her temperament onto her puppies not only genetically but also in the whelping box. However, the sire also needs to have strong breed characteristics to pass on to the puppies as well.


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

MW: Physical virtues; and quite honestly some pedigrees have been scientifically proven to be incorrect.


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

MW: Breed type as ‘form follows function’.


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

MW: Teacher, police officer, rancher.


TDP: About how long have you been judging?

MW: 29 years.


TDP: How many breeds (or groups, depending on who it is?) are you currently approved for?

MW: Working Group plus 4 breeds that are in 3 other groups.


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

MW: I’ve been ‘studying’ dogs for over forty years so probably should.


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

MW: Any breed that is well presented.


TDP: What is the most annoying thing exhibitors do?

MW: Courtesy turns and starting a pattern over without being asked.


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

MW: Be a team with their dog and pay attention to the judge’s instructions.


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

MW: Depends on distance. If not too far, I prefer driving.


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

MW: Yes, Canada, working breeds, Taiwan (3 times) all breeds, England, Samoyeds, Spain (3 times) working dogs and Finland, Working dogs.


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

MW: Yes, ASCA since 1973 and currently.


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

MW: Not to have clear hospitality plans (transportation, motel, meals, etc)


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

MW: Well organized hospitality and good stewards!


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

MW: That every exhibit looks like the breed that is in the ring.


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

MW: I evaluate puppies according to age and development.


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

MW: No.

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

MW: Yes, if they can verbalize why the breed should be taken away.


TDP: What advice would you give aspiring judges?

MW: Find breeder/mentors with 30+ years experience to talk to and learn from.


A final thought would be that real and meaningful knowledge of dogs is based on firsthand experience coupled with a natural intuitiveness that cannot be learned at seminars or institutes. Marion Dee “Mardee’ Ward


TDP: Thank you, Mardee Ward for sharing your wisdom with our readers. EST 2005 Aug 2006

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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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