Approved for: All Working Breeds, All Herding Breeds, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Clumber Spaniel, Weimaraner, Afghan, Basenji, Bloodhound, Borzoi, Dachshund, Greyhound, Ibizan, Irish Wolfhound, Norwegian Elkhound, Pharaoh Hound, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, Whippet, Italian Greyhound, Papillon, Pug, Shar-Pei, JS, Best In Show (BIS)
As we conducted this interview, it became readily apparent why Dany Canino received so many nominations and why there was such consistency in the comment of those who nominated her.
"Great dog lady. Straight stuff. She likes to rock and roll."
"Unafraid to do her own thing. ... deserving of our respect for not being afraid to show her courage in and out of the ring."
"Dedicated to making the correct decision no matter who is showing the dog and who would have their nose out of whack."
“She's not afraid to tell it like it is. I have never seen her waver from what she feels is the right choice..”
"Never intimidated by a face ... a wonderful, unique individual who reminds us all of why we love dog shows."
"I do not know her personally but she seems like a great lady. Also, she always judges her best, as she sees it, not for handlers, favors or friends."
This editor doesn't know her personally either but always enjoys her "Rock and Roll" columns in ShowSight Magazine. Having conducted this interview, I too count her among my "favorite judges."
TDP: What was your first breed?
DC: The German Shepherd, also my first showdog.
TDP: Were you ever a professional handler?
DC: Yes. From 1966 through 1979, and then again from 1983 through 1986. (My ex-husband reported me to AKC for conducting training classes, which wasn’t allowed as a judge. I had to give up judging so I could support my kids. When the rule changed in 1987, thanks to Louis Auslander, I returned to judging.)
TDP: Which dog did you most enjoy showing and why?
DC: There were a few. I loved showing the Golden, Ch. Goldrush Shiloh, owned by Dr. Gary and Jill Stone, because he loved being in the ring and was such a showoff.
TDP: Which dog was your top record holder?
DC: The same Golden, and the Cardigan, Ch. Talbot’s Pilot Programme (Joe Parkie,) owned by Margaret Sullivan. These are just a couple of dogs that come to mind.
TDP: When, and why did you decide to become a judge?
DC: The first time was around 1979. I was suffering from a badly injured knee and felt it was a disservice to the dogs for me to try and move properly with them.
TDP: For which breeds were you first approved?
DC: I applied for 7 breeds. All of these were in the Working group as there was no Herding group at that time. When I resumed judging I was fortunate to automatically be approved for some Working and Herding breeds. (Akitas-Rottweilers-German Shepherds-both varieties of Corgis-all Belgians).
TDP: Name two people who influenced you then, and now as a judge.
DC: A man named Jack LaRue in German Shepherds taught me a lot about structure. Bill Koehler, the famed Walt Disney movie dog trainer taught me a lot about understanding the way a dog thinks. There were many more that I learned from by watching and asking a lot of questions. Later on, I was fortunate to become a close friend of the famed photographer, Joan Ludwig who taught me so much about dogs. It’s a shame she never became a judge.
TDP: Do you still own or breed dogs?
DC: My schedule is so hectic that I no longer breed, nor do I personally own a dog. However, I must say that I’m getting a bit itchy about not having a dog out there in the ring.
TDP: What do you do in your other life? Profession, hobby?
DC: I’ve been an obedience trainer for over 30 years. That’s my profession. As for a hobby, I love to do seminars and help to educate new people in dogs. I really love writing and I get to do this monthly for Show Sight magazine; (“Let’s Rock N Roll” column).
TDP: Are foreign assignments of interest to you?
DC: It depends on where it is. I’m going to New Zealand this year and I’ve been to the Orient many times. It’s difficult for me to leave my business for a couple of weeks at a time, and since I’m single I always travel alone and that’s not always fun. But a lot has to do with the country and the assignment.
TDP: Do you think the sport is better today than 10 years ago?
DC: I think that deserves a double answer. I think the sport has improved in its education of judges. I’d like to see us go further in advanced judging, for instance; I’d like to eliminate the Novice and American Bred classes and replace them with the 12-18 and 18-24 month classes. I’d also like to see judges being given the right to give out Award Of Merits at the group level. No more than 3 AOM, but far too many times 3 good dogs have to be left out of the ribbons.
TDP: What about the dogs? Better than 10 years ago?
DC: In many respects, yes. I think many breeds have improved. However, in some breeds, I think breeders have concentrated on just one negative part of a dog, only to have forgotten about another part of the dog. I think that far too many breeders interpret the standard to fit their dogs.
TDP: Do you think the judge approval system is okay today?
DC: Overall, no. I think it's good that on new (first time) judges the AKC is very cautious. However, on judges that have already been approved by AKC to judge two or more groups, I think these applicants are handled as if they were applying almost for the first time. I think these experienced judges should be given the right to apply for an entire group if they feel qualified. Then, while they’re on a provisional basis, the AKC Reps and/or AKC should decide if (they) warrant approved status. (I am aware of the 3 groups application for an entire group. I don’t think (you) should have to wait for approval of 3 groups.)
TDP: Did you think so when you were applying?
DC: If you’re referring to when I first applied. The procedure has changed about 6 times since then. As for now (I recently applied for 13 more breeds) I like doing the interview process before the written tests. I guess what I dislike the most is the “wait”. You just feel that in this day and age of computers, the decision of the AKC should go faster. However, I don’t work in that department, so I’m only speculating. The one thing I am in disagreement with is the $25 fee per breed application. I don’t mind a yearly fee for all judges, but I dislike this decision of charging per breed.
TDP: How do you feel about dress codes for handlers? Judges?
DC: I can only hope that anyone who is at a show as a handler or judge, would treat this venue with the respect it deserves. I recently wrote an article about judges that I feel don’t dress appropriately. I don’t think we need a Mr. Blackwell to police our choice of dress, but I think we all ought to look twice before we decide to enter the ring.
TDP: As a judge, what bugs you most?
DC: Gum chewers in the ring. People that don’t listen to instructions of the judge. Ringside smokers. People who “over bait” their dogs and toss the bait around the ring. Dirty teeth, and long toenails. Dogs that are not in proper condition.
TDP: What grooming fad drives you nuts today?
DC: Excessiveness. Products sprayed on a dog to make the coat shine.
TDP: When you look down the line, what draws your eye?
DC: Type in a dog standing. I believe type goes beyond the stack, but I do like a dog that looks typey on the stance.
TDP: Which do you look at first, type or movement?
DC: As I said, I think type is connected to movement. I’m told that I’m known as a “movement judge”, and that suits me fine. However, I don’t like a dog moved too fast.
TDP: Should showmanship and presentation be considered?
DC: Oh it certainly enhances the overall, but if you find that wonderful dog that is not handled very well, you owe it to this breed to look beyond that. I feel that you are in the ring to find “the truth” of the breed standard, not who makes the dog look extra stylish.
TDP: What advice would you give to today’s aspiring handler?
DC: Observe as many handlers as you can. When you find that handler that seems to be invisible and you only notice the dog, continue studying that handler. Go to as many handling seminars as you can and get your hands on as many different dogs as you can. Then, have someone video tape you handling a dog. Above all, concern yourself with the well being of your dog.
TDP: How do you feel about being nominated as a judging legend?
DC: I am so surprised and oh so honored. The dog world has always been there for me. No matter what I was going through emotionally, the dog world was there for me. I vowed a long time ago that I had a lot to pay back to the sport of dogs and I figured it would take my lifetime to come close to a balance. I never thought the dog world would be paying me the honor of a nomination as a legend, and to be in the company of the great judges on the list, believe it or not; I’m speechless. It is just so exciting. I thank all of you in advance.
Thank you Dany. We think the fancy has made a great choice and we wish you success in all that you do.
Read Dany Canino's 2006 Interview