Marion was recently asked to write the Guest Editorial for Boxer Quarterly
I would like to start by telling you a little about myself an my husband Steve, I feel if I didn’t mention Steve, then part of this editorial would be missing. Steve and I have always been interested in dogs, from when we met 31 years ago. We purchased our first boxer in 1983 from Mary Hambleton, she still laughs remembering us asking her for a small boxer. We started obedience training with her, at West Lancs Boxer training club, it wasn’t long after we got the bug. We became committee members and Steve was the secretary for a number of years. We didn’t plan to have any children, but nature took its course and we had our first son Stephen who is now 25 whom we are really proud of, Stephen went to Liverpool University completed his Masters course and qualified as a Geologist, his most recent assignments have been in Tanzania and Mozambique, then son 2 came along four years later. Sean has also done us proud he is a qualified plasterer, a life guard and is an accomplished amateur boxer. I love bragging about our boys, I can’t help myself, we love them to bits. I work as a Senior Sister on an Intensive Care Unit and Steve has his own Grounds Maintenance Company, so as you can imagine we are very busy people and it can be sometimes difficult to get weekends off to attend the shows. People I work with think I am mad owning more than one or two dogs and traveling hundreds of miles in one day to a dog show. They think it even funnier when I tell them we are off on a night out with doggy friends!! their minds must boggle. When the boys were little they didn’t much like going to dog shows, as soon as they got in the car they would ask how many hours would it take, as you can imagine it wasn’t much fun, so we stopped showing for a few years until they were a little older. They did have a little go at exhibiting, but unfortunately the bug didn’t bite them, we also encouraged them to a have a dabble at judging but they weren’t interested, however they do make very good dog sitters when we go to shows or on holiday.
This brings me onto how long should someone be in a breed before they start judging, Steve & I laugh because I didn’t start judging until 10 years after him, I just didn’t have the confidence at the time, and although we both qualified at the same time to award CC’s, I actually awarded CC’s before him and for the first time at The Scottish Boxer Club which I thoroughly enjoyed and felt very honoured to be asked. On the subject of seminars, confirmation and movement and requirements of a dog show judge, although I have always been of the opinion that we shouldn’t be making it harder for judges to progress, I do feel that these seminars etc should be a requirement before one judges any dogs at a show. The way it stands at the moment you could have judged 125 boxers without any requirements at all, the only requirement at present is numbers. I feel as a judge you should know confirmation and movement, the 50 points of the dog, and the requirements of a dog show judge. There is always something new to learn, therefore breed specific seminars are an excellent opportunity. As secretary of a boxer breed club I am all for helping and advising newcomers into the breed and love to try to encourage them, giving them the opportunity to judge be it at their local training class or at a local canine society. Judging is not for everyone but you won’t know unless you try it. I believe a judge has to be honest and true to themselves, judge with integrity regardless as to who has entered under you. Exhibitors pay a lot of money and travel long distances, it is only fair that a judge, judges the dogs to the breed standard, regardless as to who is on the other end of the lead. This is why in my opinion education and experience is paramount. I believe that from the ring side you may admire or dislike certain dogs , but when it comes to actually judging them and going over them they can either be better than you expected or sometimes unfortunately worse. In the case of when you are exhibiting your own dogs if your dog is good enough I believe you should win. However occasionally dogs have been given the higher awards when clearly they have not deserved it, I feel this is down to the judge, not the exhibitor, and questions ought to be asked was this due to the fact that the judge did not have the knowledge and experience to judge the breed, or that he/she did not judge with honesty and integrity, which I feel could have an impact on their next judging appointment.
In every breed you will have a minority of exhibitors who are poor losers and can’t help but show it at the ring side, which I feel is unsporting and can be upsetting for other exhibitors and the judge. I say bite your tongue, and say nothing, although sometimes it may be difficult, wait until you are in the car on the way home, that is what Steve and I try to do. I always say, the final decision is the judges and you can’t change it, so why cause a scene. just don’t enter under them next time if you feel their judging wasn’t to your liking.
As secretary of a breed club and as a committee we work extremely hard to make the Merseyside an enjoyable show and as you all know we love to give out prize money, specials, free gifts and catalogues. Regardless of this, entries are still falling. In the current climate of increasing fuel prices, food prices and wage freezes it is no wonder that exhibitors are picking and choosing more than ever as to which shows to enter., and which judges to enter under. This can have a major impact on societies especially if they are paying extortionate prices for a venue, and they aren’t receiving the revenue to cover the show expenses. This is why I feel that a number of local all breed canine societies have folded, which is such a shame. These are the shows where judges are expected to make their numbers up and gain experience to progress up the judges list, but without breed classes it is proving more difficult and taking judges a lot longer to gain the numbers required, a good reason for us all to try and support our local canine societies whenever possible, although this proves to be time consuming and expensive if going to a champ show on the same weekend. When we first started exhibiting, we wouldn’t have dreamed of entering a championship show until we had attended a good few open shows, which would help to determine if a dog was good enough to enter at Championship show level. Questions have been asked as to whether societies should put on Champion classes, I personally would agree, I do feel that unfortunately, there are some exceptionally good dogs who deserve to be made up to a Champion, but can’t get past a dog /bitch that consistently wins, which is brilliant for the top dogs but a shame if it is possibly having an effect on entries .
Boxer Breed Council
Breed Council and judging criteria’s are an absolute minefield of which the goalposts keep changing However due to the falling entries at shows, the Boxer Breed council are trying to make it a little easier, however there are still many grey areas which cause so much confusion and frustration amongst up and coming judges. Depending on who you ask, be it Breed Council or the Kennel Club, you may get a different interpretation of the rules, which can be quite confusing at times and as clear as mud! If the KC changes the rules then clubs have to abide by them.
This brings me onto Forums and Face book, Steve and I are fairly quiet, confident but private people and although face book and forums are increasingly popular neither Steve nor I use them. They can be an excellent way of keeping up to date with all the news and gossip, and I do feel as though I am behind the times not using this form of communication, I would rather speak to someone personally or on the phone. I feel forums and face book can sometimes get out of hand and become nasty and sometimes used in a way for those wishing to bully and intimidate which is not pleasant for the person on the receiving end. I cannot understand why some people have to cause so much unpleasantness; after all it is supposed to be a hobby that we enjoy.
My philosophy on life is try to stay healthy, happy and achieve as much as you want in life, you only get one chance, so make the most of it, life is far too short this I have witnessed numerous times in my job. I say if you have any money spend it and enjoy it, as I keep telling Steve when we go for some retail therapy which I absolutely love.
Some people may say it is a waste of time gaining experience stewarding, I personally feel, that by stewarding, you not only gain experience in ring procedure but it is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the breed that is being judged, so long as you don’t talk too much or interfere with what the judge is doing, To have experienced stewards in the ring with you, especially when you judge for the first time, is in my opinion priceless. Don’t forget, when you judge for the first time you will probably have never seen or filled in a judging book, and if you feel a little nervous there is nothing like a friendly face to reassure you. Always remember it is essential to keep records of absolutely everything you attend, judge or steward.
It has been mentioned in the breed notes why do people go into other breeds? Is it because it may be a smaller breed and easier to manage as we get a little older, or is it the numerically smaller numbers that attract exhibitors? If the latter applies, you still have to own a quality dog to get past the top winners. The reason why Steve and I own other breeds is simply because we like them We purchased a whippet 9 years ago from a top breeder, we bought her for our son Sean, he wanted to show her, which he did for approx 12 months then he lost interest and took up boxing, Pepper is now a spoilt lady of leisure who is top dog in the house. We were worried that the boxers would flatten her, but no she thinks she is a border collie, she rounds up the boxers into their runs every morning and has no messing from them. We have also owned two bullmastiffs, unfortunately we lost our first one at the age of two years with renal failure and we were devastated as you can imagine. I love the bullmastiffs they are like a larger but quieter version of the boxer.
I have judged them quite a few times, but sadly the quality is nowhere near as good as the boxer. I think we are extremely fortunate in boxers to have so many good quality dogs, which makes it far easier when judging. Our most recent breed is a Boston Terrier which we thought about purchasing many years ago, but were a little dubious about the terrier instinct in them, but I can honestly say she is like a miniature boxer, she has a fabulous temperament and is a real character, and I will admit a lot easier to look after than a boxer. We have very few litters and are now members of the KC accredited breeders scheme which I believe is excellent, if it helps to monitor and improve the breed it can only be a good thing.
Undocked tails are very rarely mentioned. I personally don’t even think about them anymore, as far as I am concerned it feels like they have always been there and it doesn’t bother me what so ever, and thankfully we have not had any damaged tails. I do prefer the tails on the boxers compared to the Dobermans and the Rottweiler.
Anyway I think I have written enough now, I hope you have enjoyed reading a little about my family, as well as the various subjects I have spoken about and hope you have found it interesting. There are a lot of lovely people in boxers and I do believe it is one of the better breeds to be involved in, Thank you to Boxer Quarterly for inviting me to put pen to paper, I thought I was going to struggle, but as you can see, once I started I didn’t know when to stop. If you are still awake thank you for taking the time to read my editorial.
Marion McArdle, McArmadale Boxers