b a bbling Retirement Age For Judges? Continued FROM page 18
One of the most fascinating aspects of this sport is that it is virtually ageless. By that I mean that judges, handlers and exhibitors from 15 to 90 know each other and communicate with each other. People are judged on personality, skill and ability on a more general basis – and not put in little boxes based on age, which I think is very common amongst people in general. I watched results where teens were asked how many people they knew over the age of 80- and the result was averaging 1 or 2. Probably their only surviving grand- or great grand parents. Kids don’t have contact across generations like in the old days. That is if they’re not involved in our sport. And I am firmly convinced that so many of our older dog breeders and judges are kept young and current due to the daily or weekly contact with the younger generations. I am only a little concerned that we don’t make sufficient use of the experience the seniors have, not only regarding judging, but all aspects of breeding, handling, winning or losing. Well, some of them were themselves really bad losers, but still by now looking at the world from the “other” side, might hopefully have a different perspective on life and could share their views with the masses. I am occasionally (4 times a week) playing golf with a 90 year-old ex-handler and judge who decided to retire from judging some 3 years ago. Still as bright as a teenager, with a wealth of knowledge he could willingly share with the world if asked, but I haven’t noticed many people asking! His wife, a number of years younger, still judging, with a similarly bright mind-background and experience matched by nobody, on top of everything that goes on in the dog world also in my humble opinion an underused resource. And I could also list a number of other seasoned campaigners that could contribute to the education of future dog people, but who are never asked. 70 Dog News
When you enter the American dog community after many years experience in other parts of the world, it strikes you what a closely-knit group it is, but also how small it is in comparison to many European countries. OK it’s a huge country with a huge number of smaller dog shows, but still you feel that everybody knows everybody. Surely wonderful when you already are part of it, but if not, would you as a newcomer feel welcome and at home? I am not sure it is so easy, but what has impressed me more than anything is the way many of the younger generation are looking after their mentors and even judges and ex-clients when they need some attention. But that doesn’t mean they cannot advise them to give up judging when they risk embarrassing themselves. I have seen examples of 80+ yearold judges doing fantastic jobs, just as I have seen 25year -olds doing well, without nearly the same background. But I have also watched 80 year-old judges causing total chaos in the ring because they were unable to remember what they just didand 25 year-olds doing a terrible job as they simply lacked experience and knowledge. There is nothing worse, in my opinion, than watching a person you have admired for years making a fool of him/herself during judging, because they did not realize they were no longer up to the task. Just as I hate watching old dogs with fantastic records returning to the ring as veterans, looking like s..t- and erasing all wonderful old pictures I till then had in the back of my head! So back to the Question: Should there be a fixed retirement age for all conformation judges? The answer is of course NO, but with the hope that the people in charge make sure their judges retire before they get a chance to seriously discredit or embarrass themselves. And to assist show secretaries, if a person repeatedly has to cancel judging appointments due to ill health or has obvious repeatedly “dizzy spells” in the ring. Take action.
Still we need the seniors to keep the youngster under control- and we need the younger generation to keep the senior young. I don’t know how large a percentage of the population actually have a serious interest and hobby similar to our retirees, but waking up every morning knowing that you have something to look forward to, phone calls, E-mails, all those wonderful dog magazines is invaluable and so much better that waking up to nothing but spending the day in a rocking chair in front of your television! To finish: One of the reasons this question has remained on my mind is what I witnessed happen in Sweden all those years ago. One of the 3 ladies mentioned visited our annual terrier show (Sweden’s Montgomery if you like) just 10 months after her enforced retirement. Hardly recognizable, previously a feisty, opinionated (in a good way) person with a strong personality. Used to judge major shows more or less every week end was now after less than a year of boredom- and probably lack of stimuli- looking 10 years older and sitting lonely in a corner by one of the rings. People who had previously been “all over her” simply did not take any notice of her at all. I hate to think it was simply because she was on no use to them anymore-but still hope she got a chance to retaliate once reinstated. But when that happened we had left the country so did never find out. Well, that kind of revenge would of course be unacceptable, however well deserved it was- and knowing the lady -I know she would never let things like that affect her mind! Well, after all, we are all just human beings … On the wall we have a sign saying: “Age is a matter of mind. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Which I think in most cases reflects reality!
Dog News The Digest of American Dogs Volume 29, Issue 48 November 29, 2013