I have listened to the "arguments" brought forth by many a novice stating that the show ring is political. My experience tells me that many times when my owner-handled dog has not won, it was not always politically driven. Perhaps I didn't do the best job presenting my animal on a given day. Perhaps, had I been able to compare structure to structure, I would understand where my breeding had fallen short. But of course there were times when I felt my dog was blown out of the water unfairly, thinking they of course deserved the win. And thankfully there have been days when I walked away with a sweet victory over competition others would agree was tough and the points won were well earned AND deserved. Through it all I have tried to not only remember my humble beginnings but that the reason I do this is because I want to move ahead - to "pay it forward" to the Shih Tzu breed, as my mentor has taught me.
NM: How did you get involved in the sport of dogs?
GD: I have been involved in the sport since 1968 when I bought a Yorkshire Terrier and thought if might be fun to show her!
NM: What was your first breed owned? Shown? Bred? Licensed?
GD: My first breed was the Yorkshire Terrier, which I also showed and bred on a very limited basis. I "graduated" to a larger breed, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, in 1970 prior to their recognition by the AKC, applied and became approved to judge them in 1984.
NM: Give us a brief synopsis of your dogs/kennel and show "career".
GD: I have bred Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers for 37 years under the Gleanngay prefix with over 135 champions, including BIS, Specialty and Group winners. I bred and owned the top-producing SCWT sire and number 2 top-producing Terrier sire of all time, Ch Gleanngay Holliday, ROM. My foundation bitch was the breed's first BIS winner in 1974 and remained to only Wheaten bitch to achieve that honor until the early 2000s.
I am chairman of SCWTCA’s Judge’s Education Committee and have, for many years past, served on SCWTCA’s Board of Directors. During that time, I was both president and AKC delegate.
NM: Why did you decide to pursue judging?
GD: It seemed a natural course of action at the time, although many years passed between applying to judge my first two breeds (Wheaten Terriers and Kerry Blues) and the decision to judge the remainder of the Terrier group as I felt I did not have sufficient time to devote to it. I am approved for the Terrier Group, eight Toy breeds and provisional for nine more. I am also approved to judge Junior Showmanship, Miscellaneous and Best In Show. A successful breeder is, first and foremost, a successful and astute judge of quality. Nothing thrills me more than to find a beautifully constructed, well-balanced dog of correct breed type no matter what the breed.
NM: Why have you decided to judge Shih Tzu?
GD: Since I actually got my start in a Toy breed, I have always found myself drawn to them. I love the elegance and grace inherent in the Shih Tzu. The dramatic and distinctive high head carriage and luxurious flowing coat are qualities I find particularly exciting. Coming from a coated breed myself I truly appreciate the work that goes into its proper presentation.
NM: When judging, what is the "must have" quality you look for in a Shih Tzu?
GD: I judge whole dogs and even in my own breed am hard pressed to place one trait above another in term of "must haves". I do, however, place great importance on correct silhouette in all breeds. I also cannot forgive poor temperament.
NM: Tell us your definition of breed type in a Shih Tzu.
GD: Breed type in the Shih Tzu must include the requisite silhouette with the proud, almost arrogant, head carriage and curved over-the- back tail. It must be solid and of good substance for a toy. Equally important is its luxurious long flowing coat.
NM: Type and structure - Are they the same? Why or why not?
GD: Any breed can display correct breed type and still have structural, or functional, irregularities. So, no, breed type and structure are not the same.
NM: What do you look for on the table?
GD: Examination on the table (hands on) is an important aspect of judging a coated breed. I want to make certain that the head I am seeing is actually correct and not simply created by clever grooming techniques. I want to feel the dog’s substance (or lack of it), that the top line is level, that the loin is short rather than the rib cage, that it is slightly longer than tall and that the neck actually does flow smoothly, and not abruptly, into the back. With a coated breed, my hands must tell me that what appears to be true actually is!
NM: What do you look for in movement?
GD: I do not want to see a Shih Tzu strung up, but rather moving of its own accord, with an effortless, fluid gait, and displaying sufficient reach and drive.
NM: Health, Conformation, Temperament - What do you feel is the order of importance and why?
GD: I cannot place emphasis on health over temperament over conformation. All three must co-exist! In my breed health has been placed foremost of late and consequently our breed is in serious trouble in terms of both breed type and temperament.
NM: In the US, the Shih Tzu is a Toy, in Canada, Non-Sporting. Where do you feel the Shih Tzu is a better fit and why?
GD: Based upon size and taking into account the size spread among the Toy Group generally, I feel the Shih Tzu belongs where it is here in the US.
NM: What is your feeling of the grooming techniques of today in comparison to those practiced when the Shih Tzu was first acknowledged by the AKC?
GD: By way of addressing Shih Tzu grooming techniques, I can only voice that I was shocked over what I learned at a breed seminar. The amount of artificial "enhancement" (coloring) to create a more dramatic appearance saddened me.
On behalf of The Shih Tzu Reporter, I would like to thank Ms. Dunlap for taking the time to respond to my inquiry. In our next issue I will be pleased to introduce to you Mr. Richard Beauchamp.
If you have comments and/or suggestions on interview questions, judges or this forum in general, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.