Bob Gregory is the Chairman of Manchester Dog Show Society having
served on the committee for 24 years. He is a Utility Group
judge who successfully showed and bred both Dalmatians and Tibetan
Terriers and is an accredited Kennel Club Trainer for Conformation
and Movement. He was previously a member of the police force
serving in special branch before starting his own business in
1984. He confesses to working part time for the boss,
his daughter who now runs the company. In his police-days he
would often swap shifts to pursue his new hobby of dogs.
success in the show ring began in 1976 when Bob made up his
first Dalmatian champion and things 'hotted up' in 1978 when
another champion, Sceptre Snoopy, made the first of six appearances
in the Pedigree Veteran finals, always placed in the first
five, a record so far unbeaten. To add to this, two of Snoopy's
off-spring, both owned by Bob, joined him in the finals in
1981.Quite a feat! He continued to breed many more champions
including a brother and sister in his second breed, Tibetan
Terriers. The bitch Ch. Spotarton Black Eyed Susy won the
Utility group at Driffield Championship Show in 1992.
The conflict of interest of both showing and a developing
judging career caused Bob to consider the situation deeply
and in 1994 he decided to give up showing his dogs.
Bob began his judging career in 1974 judging Dalmatians at
Poynton Open Show and like many of our Group judges gained
his knowledge and experience over the years by travelling
the length of Great Britain judging at Limited and Open Shows.
This experience encompassed a practical "hands on"
opportunity of handling many breeds of dog and he feels that
the opportunity to talk to knowledgeable owners and breeders
gave him a wealth of information that can only be gained in
this way. Added to this, the study of breed standards as bedtime
reading has built up a body of knowledge that continues to
serve him well.
hopes that the present opportunity for new judges to learn
will be as rich and rewarding as he experienced in his early
judging career. Bob awarded his first CCs in Dalmatians in
1979, now awarding them in 22 breeds across the Utility, Pastoral
and Working Groups.
Checking his records he realised he has judged some 49,000
dogs in 9000 classes and has awarded 140 Best in Shows both
in the UK and overseas. He is too terrified to work out the
Bob's philosophy of judging was actually formed by his own
experiences of dog showing, and what he had wanted from judges
as a competitor.
"It really is quite simple. A judge must have total integrity,
and do the job to the best of his ability and making his decisions
knowing there isn't a second chance. People spend so much
money these days going to shows that everyone needs to know
that they will have a fair crack of the whip."
"The best dog on the day should always win and friendship
should never get in the way. Thankfully, my real friends understand
this so there isn't a problem. My prime concern is that breeds
should not suffer as a result of poor judging and I only hope
that people take what I do in good faith."
more relaxed than when he is in the ring Bob has an easy rapport
both with the dogs and the exhibitors, relaying to them both
his enjoyment of judging dogs. He believes in having a pleasant
word when necessary to release the tension that both novices
and the more experienced handler can feel in the ring. Like
most judges he has the occasional funny incident to relate,
but one of the most memorable was in 2000 when he was in the
ring judging Miniature Schnauzers at an Int. Ch. Show in Sweden.
His wife Norma was sitting at the ringside when she noticed
something amiss. She managed to beckon the steward who discreetly
conveyed the message to Bob. His trouser rear seam had split.
Meanwhile the ringside audience increased and everyone was
smiling. Fortunately, for all voyeurs his underwear protected
his modesty -just! At the ringside much to the amusement of
the crowd Norma managed to do a quick stitching job between
classes whilst Bob was still wearing the trousers. And Bob
had thought it was his judging in which they were all showing
Spending a certain amount of time each year judging abroad,
to date he has awarded CACs, CACIBs and BIS in some 15 countries
over four continents. Bob says, "It gives me an opportunity
to focus my mind completely on the dogs. I don't know the
handlers, the stewards or even the language. The only things
I have to concentrate on are the animals, the standard and
my critique. I enjoy the verbal/reporter critique method they
use. It helps me to clarify my ideas about the dog and, I
think, provides a different relationship between the handler
and the judge.
One time in Sweden the puppy judge of the breed I was judging
took ill on the day of the show I was asked to do all the
exhibits. It was a huge number and in an effort to cut down
on time I decided to do the critique as I was actually going
over the dogs rather than retiring to the table to talk to
the secretary. The handlers really enjoyed it they immediately
knew what I thought and understood why I was giving them the
appropriate award so whenever possible I've used that method."
Bob, accompanied by his wife, Norma, tries to take time out
in the countries whenever business allows. "The hospitality
we are shown is wonderful and we have made some great friends
who we try to keep in touch with through e-mails and phone
calls. You get a different perspective on a country when you
are involved and visit with the people who reside there but
it's strange that wherever you go the worries, ideas and aspirations
of the exhibitors and breed clubs are very similar to ours
in the UK. And certainly the show officials have problems
just like ours.
I know some of our summer shows have problems with rain but
a couple of years ago I was judging in Bandung in Indonesia.
The day began with beautiful sunshine and by 11 o'clock it
was close to 100 degrees. I was under a long canopy to protect
the dogs from the heat and I thanked my lucky stars for at
around 2 o'clock the sky went black and rain like I had never
experienced began to fall. By 6 o'clock everyone was up to
their knees in water."
"They presented the small dogs on folding chairs, the
large ones just got wet! It became a carnival. The electricity
failed so the cars were brought to light the scene and the
people stayed to enjoy the fun. The show officials kept smiling
'It's the monsoon' and shrugged! I've been asked which is
my favourite country to visit and I usually answer whichever
I have just judged in. Although I have a particular soft spot
for South Africa and Australia, because it's warm and the
dog scene is great. They are lovely people - but of course
they are in all the countries I've judged in. The great benefit
is they speak English and I don't speak anything else and
it certainly makes the translation of critiques much easier!"
" The subject of critiques is one that often creates
a wealth of discussion and one that is addressed by some breed
training programmes in preparation for breed examinations.
I am aware it would take a change in exhibitors perceptions
to accept adverse criticism as overseas handlers do, as written
critiques in the UK tend, in general, to stress the favourable
points of the dogs and be non-committal on faults. I appreciate
that the greater numbers in the UK would make a wholesale
verbal critique totally impractical but an interesting thought
- perhaps a ring secretary writing on the first two in a class
- would ensure, at least, that all championship shows would
be reported on. A debating point?"
One of only 24 Kennel Club accredited trainers for Conformation
and Movement, Bob, who cites education as being very important,
has also recently joined the board of the Animal Care College.
" When I was at school a teacher once told me that knowledge
Why that particular statement stuck with me down the years
I don't know but I was pleased when the Kennel Club began
the initiatives for more education in dogs. When I started
in dogs, (and I can hear lots of younger exhibitors groaning!)
there were lots of large kennels still in existence and just
looking at the dogs and talking with the owners provided an
learning opportunity. If you had a particular problem with
your line the large kennels had a stud dog that could solve
it. You could see the results of line breeding at every show."
the economic climate changed, the large kennels slowly diminished
and the era of the single dog owner began. Few breed clubs
recognised the need for education and the wealth of knowledge
that had to some extent been taken for granted disappeared.
Exhibitors often turned to the current top champion in their
breed without looking at the pedigree and the dogs behind
it. They also did not appreciate that if everyone jumped on
the bandwagon they were narrowing their breed's gene pool.
Hopefully the educational programme that is being developed
now will not only educate our future judges but will give
breeders a greater insight into the development of their breeds.
I truly believe that the breeders and breed clubs are the
custodians of their breeds' future and that judges are there
to encourage and assess at any one moment in time, how close
they are to achieving the standard they have laid down for
their breed. Perhaps if some breeds look at their breed standard
in this light, as a blue print for future breeders and a learning
document for judges, they might re-examine them and so make
sure they really give out the correct message. I enjoy presenting
the conformation seminars and each one provides a platform
for discussion and allows individuals the opportunity to share
their ideas and queries."
"The open shows also provide a necessary training ground
for judges, as well as an opportunity to ease young stock
into the show world so it is important that in our efforts
to gain our next champion this important part of our dog scene
is not allowed to disappear. I know we only have so much cash
and so much time but they provide such a richness of learning
experience and an opportunity for socialising both human and
doggy. Since exhibitors appear to be motivated by champion
status perhaps an open show title might draw them back thus
enabling aspiring judges to go over more dogs in a formal
" title" set- up.
realise the paperwork could be difficult but a book could
be devised (like that of the Junior handlers) where the exhibitor
would keep a record of the requisite awards and send them
to the Kennel Club when they have qualified for the award.
Perhaps 10 BOBs where 12 dogs or more are present plus a BIS
might be an appropriate number. Ah well, it's amazing what
can come from a long evening of dog judges chatting with a
nice bottle to fuel it!"
Bob has a passion for judging dogs. A passion so strong that
he put off an immediate cancer operation to fulfil a judging
appointment in France that weekend and it gave him the determination
to recover to judge Dalmatians at Birmingham National some
six weeks later. The surgeon was sure that part of his complete
recovery was due to his desire to get back in the ring.
So, what does the future hold for Bob Gregory? He has more
Conformation and Movement seminars to present, judging appointments
both home and abroad already booked as far ahead as 2005.
Does he have any ambitions to fulfil? "I am sure most
judges have a secret desire to judge BIS at Crufts apart from
that, I am happy to accept what comes long and I am pleased
that exhibitors seem, by their entries, to want my opinion,"
There is only one ambition in life outside of judging that
he has not fulfilled. In his younger days he had a desire
to be a racing driver - another passion. However he has contented
himself with being an advanced driver for over 30 years. He
was the lead pursuit driver for the police at one stage in
his career and has been trained in saloon car and formula
three cars at Donington Park. Advancing years tell him that's
enough and, in any case he stuck in the car on the last occasion!
A man who likes to live life in the fast lane? No, not really.
He just likes to enjoy himself with the dogs and the people
around him, taking each day as it comes. A real character
with a great sense of humour, he is someone who has to be
admired and respected for his genuine honesty and integrity.
That is Bob Gregory.