She judges around the world but Meg Purnell-Carpenter describes judging Crufts, the world’s most prestigious dog show, as the highlight of her career.
Judging Crufts 2017 Working Group
by Meg Purnell-Carpenter, Crufts Dog Show Group Judge, SAAB Member
Judging the working group at this prestigious show in March 2017 was one of the greatest moments of my judging career. Many will say it is just another dog show, believe me it is not, this is a very special show in every way.
On the day of our judging, the judge of the Pastoral Group (known to you as the Herding Group) and myself, were invited to the Chairman’s lunch, where we were each presented with a beautiful silver salver as a memento of our special day.
In the afternoon, we attended rehearsals in the main ring in readiness for the evening show. I must admit I felt more confident when we had run through the planned routine. Once this was completed I was allocated a dressing room where I could change into my group outfit. This was so exciting as one of the UK's famous comedians had used the same dressing room only the previous evening. My sister who is a professional hair and beauty consultant, coiffed my hair, also making a great improvement to my face. As I am sure you can imagine, I really began to believe I was a star.
Feeling a little more confident after the rehearsal, I entered the arena with a lighter step. The atmosphere was electric and I walked into an audience of thousands with millions more watching at home on television, all waiting for me to judge this group.
As the dogs paraded into the ring they were greeted by huge cheers from the very enthusiastic crowd. Led in by their handlers, all of whom were extremely smart, complementing their dogs without being overdressed. Once I had placed my hands on the first dog I relaxed and settled to judge the dogs presented to me.
The group consisted of some outstanding dogs. My final eight came down to The Doberman, Giant Schnauzer, Leonberger, Newfoundland, Tibetan Mastiff, Portuguese Water Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog and the Rottweiler, all of excellent quality.
My eventual winner was the Newfoundland who absolutely oozed quality. His presence filled the ring, demanding that it was his to command. His coat just rippled and gleamed in the lighting, so beautifully balanced with a gorgeous head and expression, excellent bone, superb on the move. He so deserved his Group win.
Group 2 winner was the Leonberger. Another magnificent dog, not much between these two. Again, super head with excellent bone and substance, shown in immaculate condition, another great moving dog.
Group 3 was the Doberman. Another excellent specimen. A strong-willed dog who made his handler work hard to bring out the best in him. I could not deny him this place.
My Group 4 placement was the Portuguese Water Dog, one of the best examples of this breed that I have judged. Very balanced, of beautiful quality and well presented.
A question I have been asked many times is, “Do the judges here in the UK look for glamour and presentation (handling)”. I would hope that we all look for the best dog on the day, breed type obviously comes in to the equation. Glamour and presentation, although important, would be secondary to the quality of the dog. I must say most of our judges are honest and judge fairly. If we do have judges who do not comply, the exhibitors show their disapproval by not exhibiting under that particular judge again.
Although we were sad when we left Crufts previous venue, Earls Court in London, but everything was so crowded and difficult to access there that it would have been impossible to accommodate the entry of over 20,000 dogs as are entered at Crufts today. The National Exhibition Centre, or N.E.C as we know it, is the ideal new venue for the show, being close to Birmingham airport, rail services and motorways. The number of entries has continued to increase. Since the move to N.E.C. we have also seen a large increase in foreign dogs being entered, in particular since our quarantine laws changed in 2012. There were approximately 1,000 overseas dogs entered this year, some from as far away as Australia. The show now has a truly international flavour with thousands of overseas visitors attending. It has gained a great reputation, long may it continue.
I have heard that the American registries are considering accepting Russian Blacks with tan markings. Where on earth did that idea come from? It is a Russian Black Terrier, not a Russian Black and Tan Terrier. The UK Kennel Club do not accept black and tan, the only colour in our standard for the Russian Black Terrier is black. It will be yet another disaster if this colour change is accepted. This will make another designer breed for the opportunists to earn themselves a great deal of money (dollars).
As you know, I am president of the U.K. Russian Toy Terrier Club (proposed). This breed has only recently been accepted on to the Import Register by the Kennel Club here. The breed is well established in Russia and Europe. They are delightful little dogs already growing in numbers. In the U.K. a breed Club has been formed and many activities are now taking place. The breed will remain on the Import Register until they have proved themselves suitable in health and numbers being exhibited, they will then apply to be transferred to the full register.
The breed had a great time at Crufts when the media took an interest in them by writing articles and publishing photos of them because they are a new breed to this country.