Birmingham NEC, 7th March 2015. Judge: Mrs Ann Harpwood MBE.
To be invited to judge at the world's largest and most prestigious show is an honour indeed and I am most grateful to the Kennel Club for inviting me. I would like to place on record how wonderfully kind and efficient my stewards were. They had been on duty since the morning and were still cheerful and welcoming. Several Exhibitors took the time to contact me at a later date to express their appreciation. As I had been taken very ill two weeks before the date, there was some doubt that I would be able to keep the appointment but I made it and both stewards did all they could to assist me when I appeared to be flagging. Thank you, both of you. My thanks also to the exhibitors. Without you, of course there would have been an empty ring. Numerically, the entry was considerably higher than in recent years and I am grateful to you for putting your trust in me in bringing your precious Dandies for me to look at. I do not intend to make adverse criticisms of any exhibit, hoping that my final placings will accurately reflect my personal views but would like to take this opportunity of giving my overall general opinion of what I found on the day and, hopefully, helping the novices amongst you, get a clearer picture. Quite a few exhibits had sickle-hocks, ie. a hock that wasn't able to flex as it should. This resulted in a rather choppy and stilted hind-movement. When this is present, then the front assembly of the Dandie is taking quite a punishment because of the lack of flexibility from the rear. The result of this is a heavy and over muscled shoulder - hence the expression overloaded and not clean. An exhibit can cope with this rather better if it has a reasonable length of neck and a well laid shoulder placement. Back in the seventies, a very clever lady called Rachael Page-Elliott, brought a film to this country called DOG STEPS. I believe that both dog papers have this available if anyone is interested in seeing it. It is a revelation. The copy I saw showed two puppy Dandies-one with sickle hocks and one with the correct hock. She then filmed the same two again when they were over 8 years of age. The one with sickle hocks was moving very badly whilst the other still showed the desired extended and sound movement. On the occasion when I first watched it, some of the late great Ch. Show judges of the day were there. The great Joe Braddon, Bill Siggers etc. I remember hearing Joe say, as we were leaving, that he was going home to shoot his dogs!! On the last occasions I was around the Dandie ring at a Ch. Show I was amazed to see how many exhibits were being shown in a very close fitting jacket. This made it impossible to see the unique coat feature of the Dandie, ie. a pencilled coat. Happily there were very few exhibits on the day that didn't possess this highly sought feature. Just one more criticism. I was very disappointed to see several exhibits with very dirty front teeth. Do take time to sort this out if it applies to your Dandie. The front teeth are so easy to keep clean and it does mean that there is less bacteria present.