Taking The Lead

By Andrea Keepence-Keyte

Integrity? Or A Case Of Sour Grapes

Integrity? Or A Case Of Sour Grapes

Integrity is a word that gets banded about quite a bit in the dog show world. There are many moans about “crooked” judges and even more “crooked” exhibitors but I think sometimes this is blown out of proportion.

When someone decides to judge I think it’s very important to decide what it is YOU are looking for in a dog in relation to your interpretation of the breed standard. In relation to handling competition, you have to decide what it is that is important to you as a judge but still consider the golden rules and their rank in your decision.

When you judge you must place the best dog – there should be no other motivation or agenda to judging. Once you start judging for your own ends then I am afraid you will be caught out and your actions will be reflected in your future entries. This is also true of handling – remember that exhibitors are not stupid and they are ringside! I’ve always tried to judge in such a way that I know in my heart I have awarded the best on the day. Whether that is a dog handled by a top breeder or a handler who has never done any winning – the best dog. And in relation to handling the best on the day, not the top handler in the ring.

One other thing about judging is that you must treat everyone the same – be fair! If you have a large class and you want to only move the dogs you are going to place again, shortlist – try not make someone do the walk of shame though by shortlisting only 6…. If there is a dog you want to place but it won’t stand still (for whatever reason), move them all again and award on the move.

We have all witnessed a lame dog being put up, we have all witnessed handlers being placed when fatal errors have been made and the result is always the same, that particular judges name goes on the list of “don’t enter under again”.

However, when does it stop being about integrity and more about sour grapes? There is a reason that certain handlers win all the time and there is a reason that some dogs win all the time – it’s just as plain and as simple that they are the best! Top breeders did not get where they are today by showing substandard dogs and top handlers did not get where they are by breaking golden rules and not practising. There is a constant ring of “oh Mr X won again with dog X” and in a good majority of cases it has to be considered that dog X may well have been the best on the day… dog X might be beaten the following week but this doesn’t automatically mean that this dog is suddenly not worthy of its past wins. Same with handlers, just because someone who is good at handling doesn’t win doesn’t automatically mean that they are not a good handler – we are only human and we are all capable of making stupid mistakes.

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If you are happy with your placings as a judge then that is the right way to do things – everyone has different opinions and that is why there is such variation in results. Don’t justify what you have done in the ring to exhibitors, write your cirit

One form of judging I cannot abide is where a judge will knock an exhibit (breed or in handling) because they think that someone needs to “come down a peg or two”….. Don’t abuse your moment of power as a judge this way, it’s not fair – this is definitely a display of a lack of integrity and sour grapes!

“Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people” – Dennis Prager

If there is anything you would like me to discuss or research and write about please do email me or contact me through Facebook. Also, don’t forget to email or call me with your news, results and gossip!
Andrea Keepence-Keyte
01386 830908


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Andrea Keepence-Keyte
I have had pet dogs all of my life, it wasn't until I met my husband and we moved in together that we got our first dog together. I really wanted a Labrador but my sister in law had just bred her beagle bitch and was expecting her first litter and my husband had his heart set on a beagle. So I am afraid to say he is completely to blame for what followed!

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