Barbara (BJ) Andrews Printed from ShowSight Magazine, November 1994
It is now 2017 and with gratitude and pride in our profession, I am happy to say that TheDogPress.com and TheJudgesPlace.com changed things. Then came facebook and while some would say "not for the good of the sport" I disagree. Today the magazines honor judges without fear of seeming to pander or of offending anyone. (Rick Beauchamp showed them how its done.) If these online features helped, we are grateful. Please honor our mentors and the many great people among us. Do it now. Before it's too late. ~ bja
When they're gone, yes, it is too late. Too late to honor them, to say how great they were, how much we learned from them and what they meant to us.
Lang, Lina, Alva, Winnie, Roy, George; judging legends before we created the term and the subsequent award. Like those monuments to the sport of purebred dogs, I regretfully add another name.
Lina Basquette was more than a Zigfield Follies star, Lina was what dog shows are all about. If we learn nothing else today, know that there is only one today, one "now", one opportunity to say Thank You.
Much will now be written about Lina Basquette after her death at 87. Like other truly great figures who have left our small world, Lina was an institution among third decade dog people. So as is always the case, those whose names Lina would have simply blinked at, they will all jump on the bandwagon and say nice things.
But this really isn't about Lina. Lina Basquette left this stage for a "starring" role somewhere else. She's forgotten by all but the old timers, but there's something more to be said about what she was. A lot more.
Lina was one of three handlers I studied. I learned a lot from her and over the years, she became my dog show mother. Lina was flamboyant, talented, an original who brought "star dust" to the show ring. She was totally committed to her "new" craft, a softie for a dog but a hard-nosed competitor. She was hip but old fashioned. Outspoken but never cruel. Witty, vulnerable, and for the most part, wasted on this sport!
We can learn so much from the stars within our sport so why is so little been written about them when they are still with us?蹠is it so remarkable that ShowSight paid tribute to Lina while she was still living? Because it so seldom happens. Why must dog people be deceased before being eulogized? It isn't as though they are painters whose great works have yet to be discovered. There are judges, breeders, and handlers generally recognized as "Masters" of their art but their preeminence is rarely shared with newcomers to the game. Why?
If they were movie stars, they would be pictured in glitzy magazines and interviewed on television. As major sports figures, the same sort of adulation would certainly occur.
No one would accuse an umpire of being crooked simply because he admired a famous pitcher's talented right arm.
Why does AKC have so many rules prohibiting the "appearance of impropriety"? Why is it so difficult for a judge to compliment a handler or for an owner to express appreciation for an important win? Why are we always and forever suspected of having an ulterior motive when we praise or call attention to astute judges?
Friendships predate a person's judging approval. Will memories of former relationships cease as soon as the intent letter is filed? Maybe it's when a judge is published? Get real! Rodeo contestants ride today and judge tomorrow. Do they knock points on their competitor? No way.
Thankfully, more publications are beginning to honor prominent dog people. Interviews afford the teacher an opportunity to share with others. We should honor distinguished people while they are still with us. Shame on us for being so politically intimidated. Judges are people. Some are better at what they do, just like in the movies. Like movie stars, they do what they do because they love it and we pay our money to go see or show under them. Will an all-rounder put your pet dog up because you paid tribute to his or her talent? Not Hardly!
Those who didn't know her might say Lina seemed not to need another compliment but no, she was always flattered and more important, deeply grateful when someone she respected "noticed" her ability. Her last days were filled with love and tributes from her doggy family but the honor she deserved from the fancy came too little, too late. Ah well. It's nice that Show Sights said it while she was able to hear and be lifted up by the love so generously expressed in that feature.
Richard Beauchamp hosts no more Kennel Review Tournaments, no outstanding Judge and Handler Awards. Too bad. We dog people are the real losers. The human race has always publicly honored its leaders, warriors, saints, and teachers. Sadly, the dog world is nearly devoid of such tributes.
Wake up AKC, before it's too late. Discerning judges who do an outstanding job day after day, without regard to awards for assignments - they are your ambassadors to the next generation of exhibitors. You couldn't hire better public relations people.
Awards that call attention to great talents in our sport would go a long way towards improving our public image and the education of all participants in the sport of commoners.
Such recognition would however, have to be based on what the exhibitors say, not just a small panel of "experts" who don't have the pulse of the people. Before it's too late, let's develop something official. And if that idea falls on deaf ears at AKC, then it's up to the rest of us. Maybe I'll do it. There are too many great judges and handlers out there who just go about doing their job with honor and dedication. Some of us know they could be tomorrow's legends. Let's recognize them before it's too late...
This column fell on deaf ears at AKC but not with readers. The upshot of this was that a lot of you called or dropped me a note (email wasn't even in use back then) and Judging Legends was born. It is being updated as I type this so be patient. Before it's too late, our team will be adding more interviews. TheDogPlace.org also thanks you for your support.
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