My sister and I brought two Siberian puppies with us to a show in Ohio, three hours and one state away. One was a classic black and white and the other was a piebald (mostly white with black splotches).
According to the standard in AKC, CanKC and UKC, every pattern and color is acceptable for this breed including the piebald, as is every eye color. It is common knowledge in the Siberian community that it is difficult for a piebald or a solid white Siberian to place or win over the more classical Irish markings. We knew this, but despite her markings she is wonderfully trained, spot on 99% of the time and responsive. We wanted to see how far she could go on her merit. We fully expect to lose far more than we win
What we did not expect was unprofessional behavior by one of the judges.
My 12-year-old niece, an accomplished handler, offered to show her for me. When my niece took her into the ring with the other puppy bitch, the Judge turned to the other competing breeder waiting at the gate, pointed at our pie girl and said, “WHAT is THAT?”
The other breeder informed him that she is a piebald and that her markings are completely acceptable according to the standard.
The Judge replied, “I don’t know about that.” and returned to judging.
After the two puppy bitches did the down and back and go-around, he walked over to my niece and told her, “Your puppy moved very nicely but it has ugly markings and I just can’t stand to look at it.”
This was announced ringside in front of other breeders as well, and they were no less shocked than we were to hear it. When one of them approached him later to ask him about his ringside comment and let him know again that piebalds are an accepted marking, his response was “I don’t care. It is the judges’ whim about who gets put up. That dog was ugly. All piebalds are ugly. I can’t stand looking at them and I will never put one up no matter what.”
Please understand this is not a case of sour grapes. Three other Judges gave us some wonderful feedback about her strengths and her weaknesses and some constructive criticisms about what could be done to improve both her and our handling. One of the female Judges gave her the Best Female but the other bitch puppy had been moved up to CH class. There was no competition. We expect she would have taken second if the other bitch were present due to the consistent feedback about her weaknesses that we need to work on. Although one other Judge admitted that piebalds are not her favorite, she did so in a very honest, pleasant and professional manner. We had no problem at all with the professionalism of these individuals.
Our problem was this Judges lack of professionalism, ethics and manners. His refusal to judge by the standard, or at least pretend to, is distressing when it was observed by a very young lady who is now disillusioned to the sport she has come to love. Further, it was completely unnecessary to ridicule the dog and humiliate the handler. His conversations with other breeders were filtered back to us. He could have said nothing or simply said the other bitch was his choice for the day and we would have been fine with that. In what world is it acceptable to humiliate a child to the point of tears, to tell her that her dog is so ugly that he can’t stand to look at her?
I am appalled at his behavior, and his lack of adherence to the UKC Judge Standards. As listed on the UKC site under Judges Codes and Ethics:
A. Judges’ decisions play a key role in determining future breeding stock. Conformation decisions must be based strictly on the UKC standard and performance placements on the UKC rules.
B. Judges should dress appropriately for the event and the weather. A Judge’s appearance should always be neat and professional.
C. Judges should not only avoid impropriety but also the appearance of impropriety. In a sport where Judges are bound to have numerous friends among the exhibitors, it is important when judging to keep socializing at events to a minimum, both in and out of the ring. Judges should be cordial to all exhibitors while maintaining a professional distance.
D. When not judging, Judges are encouraged to participate in UKC events as spectators, exhibitors, workers, and club members. In such situations, however, Judges must be mindful that people give extra attention to their words. Judges should refrain from gossip and be cautious about discussing dogs they have judged.
Clearly, he feels he is above the ethics the UKC requires of its Judges.
While we enjoyed everything else about the show as well as the other Judges and are certain to come back, we will never again register any of our dogs for a show judged by this individual, classic markings or otherwise. He did The UKC a huge disservice as every Husky, Klee Kai, Samoyed and Chinook breeder present is aware of his behavior. We won’t waste our money on any show he will judge, and if he ends up being a substitute we will pull our dogs even if no refund is available. We did not drive 3 hours from another state to have my niece humiliated or our dog judged on less than the standard demanded by the UKC.