The Judges Place > Meet The Judges
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!
Top Five Candidate, Judging Legend 2006
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)
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?
TDP: About when was that and with what
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
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,
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
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
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
TDP: Which breed (or group) do you personally enjoy doing
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
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
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
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
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
TDP: Do you evaluate puppies as puppies or as adults when
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?
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
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
TDP: Thank you, Mardee Ward for sharing your wisdom with our
Marion Dee “Mardee’ Ward -