THE VIRTUAL SPECIALTY
THE VIRTUAL SPECIALTY 2007
|Thank you for the invitation to judge your third
“virtual” Sloughi international specialty. I am flattered that you
sought out my opinion, so approached this task with diligence, and with
both some excitement and apprehension. This was a new challenge for
me and while I was looking forward to the experience, I was also unsure
of how well I might manage this new task.
A clever, complimentary photograph of a mediocre dog can be just as deceiving as an unflattering picture of a superior specimen. So it made me think. I spent more time working through the placements than I would if I were judging the dogs in person. Not only do most sanctioning bodies impose a time limit on your judging, but if judging dogs in person I would able to ask them to move and could get my hands on them, which would answer many of the questions I posed to myself as I studied the photographs. In the virtual specialty, however, I could take more time to study the entrants. This study though was limited to what was presented and observable, from the pictures of each dog.
My decisions obviously had to be done without the benefit of moving the dogs, which is normally a criteria that carries a lot of weight in my evaluation of a sighthound. For those dogs where a movement photo was included, I had to presume that it was reflective of the usual gait of the dog. And for those dogs where there was no movement picture, I had to base more of my decision on the dog’s structure as presented. Nor could I feel whether or not the dogs were in good muscle tone. So I had to adapt my judging style, and I may have forgiven things through photographs, that I might not have been so willing to do were I able to see the dogs from different angles, touch them and be able to watch them on the move. Conversely, some of the strengths I highlighted may have appeared better in the photo than they would have if the dogs were actually presented in the ring. So, using pictures presented some limitations. However, it was still a great experience, and my decisions were based on what I could see from the pictorials presented on each dog.
I tried to approach this virtual specialty much as I would when judging dogs in the show ring. I reviewed all of the photos for a first impression, and mentally ordered the class dogs into my choices. Then I went back to study each of the photos and see if my initial thoughts withstood a more thorough examination. As with the judging of a regular class in person, most of the time my first reaction stuck with me in placing the dogs.
The process of judging in a virtual format certainly made me think, and I believe that I have become more familiar with the Sloughi as a result of this endeavor. This was a great learning experience for me, and now I will have to try to see more Sloughis in real life to see if what I think I learned, actually applies!
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