Look at the show rings and note the vigor and health of elder judges. Whether breeding, showing or judging, dogs keep us healthy as well as knowledge wealthy and wise!
Editors Note: July 2006 - In updating this 1996 article, we were shocked that so many of these handlers and judges are no longer with us. It had been less than ten years. Treasure your dog show friends now!
“ALL ROUNDERS.” How few they are, only about two dozen. Yet at a small show in North Carolina in 1996, there was Joe Gregory chatting with the newest inductee, Charles "Chuck" Herendeen from Ohio.
I was intrigued with how vital and strong they were as they shared a funny story at ringside. It was the end of a long day but they were standing up when they could have been sitting, laughing when they could have been frowning, and after all those years, just as interested in the dogs, the people, and the sport. Mr. Herendeen passed away November 2004 but his son Skip carries on the family tradition and is a popular Group Judge.
Is longevity inherently connected with becoming an All-Breed Judge? Something that keeps a person physically and mentally sharp? Medical science has proven that caring for pets can improve one’s health. Anyone that’s spent a few minutes with Chuck, seen Wally do the Tango, admired Miss Dorothy's beauty, or noted Joe unconsciously do that dancer’s step even at the end of the day would surely know that the sport of dogs is good for us. I looked around ringside at the end-of-the-day crowd.
My eye was drawn by the glow that always surrounds Anna Wanner. Quite, dignified, always the height of fashion, she exudes presence. With all but Herding Group, Anna is not far from joining that short list of All-Breed judges we fondly call "all rounders". It struck me as she walked over to join the two guys that perhaps some of her radiance came from Joe’s good humor and Chuck’s sharp wit?
That same weekend brought in Betty Moore, who, like Mrs. Wanner, was so beautifully turned out she could have been the star of a Texas soap opera. While many women shuffle through the day in house slippers, our judges are not only stylish – they set the style!
Looking around the ringside, it was easy to recall other great and gifted judges who were physically able to continue what they loved so much. I remembered Roy Ayers as he pointed to the Scottie for BIS. I applauded his decision which confirmed my opinion of George Ward’s spiffy charge that had not yet become "Shannon" the Top Winning Dog All Breeds, All Time. I commented about Roy’s uncanny eye for quality. A lady sitting behind tapped me on the shoulder with great exasperation said “Of course she’s great, that is “Shannon!” Even from ringside, I could see the sparkle in Roy's eyes as he looked down at her and it was obvious he would have liked to scoop her up in his arms. Roy Ayers and George Ward are now deceased.
I think of Lina Basquette sitting on a bale of hay in Lumberton, NC. Puffing her cigarette, she indignantly looked around the tin roofed in a tobacco barn and lifting one imperious eyebrow said “What am I doing here?” She pointed to Jack Funk as he hurried by with King Boots (record-setting OES), and sweeping her bejeweled arm left to right she laughed “Look at all these great dogs! Who cares that the judges can’t see them through all this dust, I can see them!”
Twenty years later Lina was still just as excited about her competition. “BJ, look at that Group!” She pointed out two Top Ten dogs and told me they were “sprinked with stardust.” As the judge made his choices, Lina haughtily told me where he went wrong. Then rousing "Special K" from her plush mattress, she swept into the Working group. Enthralled, I watched as Lina and "K" held court and conquered, neither missing a cue. It was easy for the Great Dane but I wondered then how many more miles around the big rings Lina's strong dancer's legs could endure?
When Lina moved on to judging, those marvelous legs finally failed but her indomitable will did not. She completed her last assignment in a wheelchair. Soon after, we lost her. Lina and Jack are both deceased.
Taking a weekend off to judge a fun match (typical!!) Bob Finnie told me that he didn’t want to be the best "All Breed" judge, he just wanted to live long enough to be the best Working dog judge. To many who knew him, he was close to his goal when fate took him from the sport. Bob Finnie is deceased.
If you remember Heywood Hartley, Tip Tipton, Thelma Brown, Gini Hampton, Bob Ward, Pat Doniere, Lang Skarda ... well, the list is long but you'll agree, great judges are sprinkled with stardust and blessed with wisdom and health.
So when it’s been a long week, look forward to your weekend getaway. Your friends. Your competition. The involvement and excitement that keeps us all Happy, Healthy and Wise. Treasure your "dog show friends" and honor the great judges among us, those who serve the fancy through good weather and bad, doing what they love.
And hope you can be just like them someday because dog shows are good for us!
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