babbling By Geir Flyckt-Pedersen
Retirement Age For Judges?
ertainly a loaded question. I don’t have any idea of what the average age of the current population of our judges is, but I do have a suspicion it is on the high side. Over the years we have all heard horror stories about judges who kept on judging despite a variety of ailments- one of which was blindness!!! Stories about blind judges who judged by “voice recognition”- in other words knowing the handlers voices – without even being able to see the dogs- have been told on both side of the Atlantic. True or not I cannot say, but definitely not unlikely. Judging seems like a retirement occupation for many people, it is their way of keeping in touch with their old friends and the sport in general. Therefore I can understand it is very difficult for some to “ throw in the towel” at the right time- as it also has so many additional social consequences. Rules are different in different part of the world. Some 30 + years ago the Swedish KC introduced a new rule: Judges had to stop judging at the age of 70. I was a lot younger at the time, so it did not really seem a terrible thing to remove these old folks from the scene. Today, I naturally have a totally different outlook on the case. Anyway- at the big Stockholm show after the new law was introduced, there was a great “Farewell Ceremony” for 3 of our greatest and most respected judges- all women: Ulla Segerström, all-rounder and world famous for her French Bulldogs bred under the prefix “Ullah’s”; Sigyn Litorin, another all rounder and famous breeder, originally Sealyhams, but later made her mark on Labradors under the prefix “Knalle’s”; and finally Agnes Evenröd, a Sport18 Dog News
ing dog specialist who for decades bred English Cockers carrying her “Sandön’s” kennel name. So these 3 authorities were considered “past their sell-by date” and despite all their accumulated knowledge put on the” scrap heap” simply because they had reach the age of 70. Just thinking about it today makes me wonder if the board that made this decision were the ones who ought to end up on the “scrap heap”! I probably have to mention that in this country we see people work and being active in their trade or profession way beyond what we in Scandinavia have determined is the time to call it a day. If you are not self-employed and reach the age of 65 or 67 you will simply find out that if you don’t leave of your free will- you will be helped by a kick from behind! With a normally fairly decent pension! So maybe that attitude in many ways was reflected in the “authorities” when they made this, which to me now seems like an utterly ridiculous decision. Fortunately it took the board just a couple of years to realize what a stupid mistake they had made. These ladies were much more useful and valuable to the sport than they had ever imaginedso now the senseless decision was reversed and the old girls were soon back in the center of the ring, doing what they did so much better than so many, judging dogs. In Scandinavia you can give Challenge Certificate in all recognized breeds, even if there is only 1 dog of the breed in the entire country. So all- breed judges were a necessity and already in short supply before these ladies were “cut off”, so I suspect this was one of the reasons they were formally reinstated.
The KC (UK) also introduced age limits. I am not sure about the exact rules, but at a certain age you could not apply for more breeds (I think it was 75) which from a rational point of view might seem ok, but after the age of 80 you were not judging any more! I think in a questionnaire for overseas judges you were told that if over 75 at the day of the show, you were not a candidate? I think even the KC has modified some of their “age rules”, but a couple of years ago I was having a conversation at Crufts with two of my all time favorite English ladies, Marion Spavin, world famous for her Dialynne Beagles, and Betty Flavell, famous for her Wynwrights Pomeranians. I did not have any idea about their actual age, but when I asked them what they were judging over the weekend, I was told “Oh No! We’re both too old.” To witness these two ladies sidelined simply for being octogenarians, still brighter and more “with it” than most 40 year-olds, showcased the stupidity of an absolute retirement age. I guarantee that they would both have been able to do a better job than many of the “up and coming stars” judging around them at this show! I believe even England has modified their age rules. I can understand it may be difficult to tell people that they are no longer able to live up to the expected standard, but in a country where we have a number of well qualified Field Reps keeping an eye on them, it should not be a cut off point due to age, but due to incapacity. I know there in some cases might be conflicts and lawsuits involved, but the AKC decides who is qualified to judge and should also without interference be able to decide if you no longer live up to expectations, whatever the reasons might be. Continued on page 70
Dog News The Digest of American Dogs Volume 29, Issue 48 November 29, 2013