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‘Bent’ judges (Part Two)

Is it fair to say that the Kennel Club is not doing enough to prevent 'bent' judging?

Your chance to have your say by ringing our VOTELINE

0901 502 0010 - YES

0901 502 0011 - NO

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Fact or fiction?

Following our leading feature article last week, we have been inundated with comments and responses from readers. The vast majority of comments are similar and can be summarised as follows:

“Well done OUR DOGS for bringing this difficult subject to light; it’s about time people were a bit more honest and faced up to the problem”

“Well done to OUR DOGS for picking up the gauntlet”

“at least the Kennel Club has acknowledged there is a problem; it may not be every show, every weekend, but it can’t be denied that it does go on”

“... vote with your feet; if you think the judge isn’t playing with a straight bat, then don’t show under them again!”

We also feature here some longer statements made either by letter or in our breed notes.

We know the Kennel Club is very interested in seeing and hearing people’s views, so why not let them know through this page. We will be featuring the best of your letters and e-mails over the next few weeks.

Constructive comments on how YOU would tackle the problem are particularly requested. We can all give examples of the problem and say it exists, it’s what to do about it that’s the difficult bit.

We welcome all letters to the Editor by email, fax or letter.

Please reply to:

• Tel: 08707 31 65 00 • Fax: 08707 31 65 01

I suppose there are many reasons for judges straying from the straight and narrow path of honesty and fair play, but how much of this is down to the effects and pressures from exhibitors themselves?

I spent about thirty five years judging Working Trials to Championship and International level and the same for twenty five years in Obedience and there has been the very unusual competitor with a trick up his/her sleeve. However, I judged one breed show at Open level and, on that occasion, I had an exhibitor, prior to commencement of judging, do her best to inform me of her dog's achievements against a Crufts winner. Although it did her no good, there was no doubt of her desires and intentions.

During my own years of breed showing I have suspected, at times, that Working titles against the dog's name had its disadvantages. I recall one of my dogs, who was awarded an V rated Ex. by two foreign breed judges. He came into the discussion with a party who had judged him previously in the breed ring, when the party said, 'but your's is only a working dog'.

Although I cannot think of one judge in Working Trials giving me an advantage or disadvantage as a competitor I would not say it has not happened. If there is to be any manipulation within the field of Working Trials there have been suspicions of the occasional track layer or search steward trying to make life difficult for an individual competitor. Having said that, I think that Working Trials is one of the cleanest of dogging sports.

I could have said the same for Obedience, but is so many years since I took a competitive interest in the activity, I do not know the situation at present.

I think that influential exhibitors can play a significant role in the integrity of the judges.

John Cree

I agree, the KC is not doing enough to eradicate this.

I heard a CC judge say, "She had not better enter under me".

Disgusting: it is the dog, not the owner, who should be Judged on the day.

Suzanne Storm

I found the full page feature in last week’s "Our Dogs", with the attention grabbing headline "BENT JUDGES" very interesting. The editorial states quite clearly that "Our Dogs wants to shake this skeleton out of the cupboard and invites columnists and readers to let us have their views..." We recently had a very public incident at a summer all breed Ch show, where a disgruntled exhibitor, after the completion of judging, entered the ring and told the judge exactly what she thought of his judging, accusing him of being corrupt. I know this is true because the judge mentioned it in the introduction to his critique which was recently published in the canine press.

This was then followed up with a letter, published elsewhere, by another exhibitor expressing dissatisfaction with the judging. Needless to say, neither of these exhibitors won major honours on the day. If we don't like the way a particular person judges then the simplest thing is don't ever enter under him/her ever again, that is the best way to make sure they never judge again. I also feel that we are all entitled to what I call "The Five Minute Moan", when we go back to the benches, rubbish the judge of the day, because we didn't win, get it off our chests, then forget it and look forward to the next show.

May I venture to suggest that such a very public expression of dissatisfaction does little for the breed's image in the world of dogs. If you have a genuine complaint as to the ability or the ring procedure of a certain judge, then there are channels in which to pursue this, this is best done in private, via the breed clubs. Ultimately, a good judge is one which gives us a first place! Please let me have your views to get this debate going.

Paul Keevil

I'm only 13 years old but I have a very strong love of dogs. When I visited your website I was very pleased to see that you are concerned about 'bent' judging in serious competitions.

I think it's very important that all worries about this should be extinguished! I had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier who died 4 or 5 months ago. I wanted to show him but didn’t get the chance and am completely surprised to know that there is so much cheating going on in a hobby I always thought was so honourable. I don't have a dog a the moment and if I did I wouldn’t show him under these circumstances!

Holli Comaish

I see that the issue has been raised about people complaining verbally about dishonest judging, but subsequently not being prepared to put their head above the parapet. This is of course a wholly understandable state of affairs. I doubt if there is anybody in the world of dogs who has not at some stage considered that what they were watching was not right.

I doubt if there is anybody in the whole world of dogs who has come out and said, "I’m a crooked judge". Is there a judge that never made a mistake? I doubt it. Is it reasonable for people to complain? Well I think it is. I have done so in the past, not about the honesty of what I had seen but the competence. Now you may well ask who do I think I am to complain, well I feel that I have as much right to complain about the judging as I have the right to complain to that nice Mr Branson who’s freezing train I have just travelled from London on. I think the key is how it is done. Histrionics, strong words and threats do no good at all, but a reasoned letter to the committee of the show hosting club is the right way. If the club believe there are sufficient or strong enough reasons for the complaint they can then act upon it.

I believe everybody should see it as their right to complain and not feel that they would suffer subsequently. This is a very expensive hobby we are in and as I have said before, we are all entitled to a fair shake of the stick. If you think your dog does not get the same attention as mine or any other well known individuals, complain to the society. The message will soon get through to the judges, and it seems to me that when you cut through to the nitty gritty of most complaints it gets down to people not being treated fairly.

Alan Hedges