AKC Gazette Columns

AKC Gazette - July 1996

European-Style Fun Matches

Many fanciers who have attended European all-breed or specialty shows appreciate the Federation Cynologique lnternationale (FCI) procedure of written and oral judges evaluations. Each dog is compared to the standard, not the other dogs. The oral critique is made so spectators can hear the judge's opinion. The written opinion, with an overall rating of excellent, very good, good, satisfactory or unsatisfactory conformation to the standard, is dictated by the judge in the ring. The owner, the judge and the FC! each get a copy. A dog under 18 months old may not be given a rating of excellent.

The classes at Swiss shows are Jugendklasse (youth class; 9 to 18 months), Offene Klasse (open; 15 months and older) and Siegerklasse (finished champions). Only the winners of the second two classes compete for Best of Breed and Best of Opposite Sex. The Veranenklasse (veterans 8 years and older) is separate. Veterans rated excellent during their show career are not judged, but are presented so spectators can see the current generation's forebears.

European regional specialties may have a Jugdtenklasse (youngest class) for puppies 6 to 9 months, divided by sex, where they receive a rating of passing, promising or unsatisfactory. These puppies also may not compete for B.B. or BOS. The qualities that come with maturity and the variables that are subject to changes that can occur with maturity are closely monitored through age requirements in Best of Breed candidates.

The ambience is very different from U.S. shows: relaxed and informal, with no stacking, a loose lead and minimal grooming. Handlers are casually dressed. The whole class is moved counterclockwise around the ring. After this initial presentation, each exhibit is brought individually to the center of the ring for examination. Emphasis is on type rather than movement. The judge then walks to the table, where a secretary records the judge's opinion, which is spoken so the spectators can hear it. This report is made even if the dog is disqualified. Exhibitors leave the ring with a written opinion and an overall rating of the dog by an approved judge of the breed. These appraisals are also made for each entry in the Siegerklasse.

Several regional BMD clubs have held fun matches with European-style judging. The appeal to U.S. owners is in receiving a judge's oral and written evaluation of the dog as assessed by a trained, experienced hand and eye in comparison with the standard. When spectators hear the judge's opinion, ringside observation becomes a true educational experience. This procedure also eliminates speculation as to why a particularly striking specimen was left out of the ribbons for a fault or faults that only the judge's eyes or hands could discover, such as a serious bite problem. And it acquaints U.S. fanciers with how the European dogs behind their stock are evaluated. Clubs that have offered this unique experience to their members also regularly hold matches under AKC rules.

Update on Encounters of the Bernese Kind

In January 1995 I told you about Caesar, a BMD who was stolen in Moscow two years ago, along with the Jeep in which he was waiting. Owner Lynn Rast, wife of a Swiss diplomat, made a quick stop for groceries. Within 15 minutes, thieves had circumvented the lock and alarm.

I recently learned more of the story. The Rasts returned to Switzerland in October after four years in Russia, where they had found most of the people kind and working hard to survive their new circumstances. It was difficult to leave without Caesar, knowing that all hope of being reunited with him was probably lost forever. Baby Bernetta, the Berner they got after Caesar was stolen, brings them love and joy, but she'll never know the dog the Rasts hoped would be recovered and be her friend. The Jeep was found, but not Caesar, who meant far more.

New Use for Minivan Safety Belts

With the seats out, the safety belts remain. These can be used to secure crates from tipping over. Despite the weight and size of a grown BMD, crates can tip over, leaving a very surprised, if not terrified, dog. It's even worse if traffic or road conditions prevent you from stopping to right the crate. With a little experimentation, seat belts used in con- junction with snap hasps can be arranged to help hold crates in place.

- Julie Crawford, 26391 May Twilley Rd., Delmar, MD 21875