Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Bred-By-Exhibitor Toy Group at the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin?
Andrew Brace: Obviously, such an assignment is a great honor, especially for a judge from overseas, and having attended many of the events in Orlando I realize how seriously exhibitors take this very special show. I was thrilled and humbled.
What does it mean to judge this event at the only all-breed show organized directly by the American Kennel Club?
Andrew Brace: It means you have the opportunity to evaluate the cream of purebreds in front of the world, and so there is a huge responsibility to get it right!
In your opinion, how does this show differ from other AKC events?
Andrew Brace: It is unique in its magnitude and atmosphere, and so many dogs in a breed come together to compete who may not normally meet up due to geography.
What were you thinking or feeling moments before you stepped into the center of the BBE Group ring?
Andrew Brace: Focus on nothing but the dogs!
Was there a heightened energy coming from the dog and handler teams? Did you feel the energy of the spectators?
Andrew Brace: The ringside was packed and enthusiastic, and all handlers gave of their best, maybe moving up a gear in a central ring.
How challenging was this assignment? Can you share your selection process?
Andrew Brace: No more challenging than any other. Select firstly on breed type and excellence in terms of quality, then make close decisions based on movement and carriage.
Do you have a word or two about your BBE Group winner? About the dogs that placed?
Andrew Brace: The Pomeranian who won excels where so many of the breed fail, having the correct head proportions, classic outline, good length of leg, and a correct coat. The Miniature Pinscher standing Second pressed hard as she is an outstanding example of the breed with a natural charisma. The Pekingese who placed Third has a magnificent head and handles so well on the table. His presentation was flawless. Completing the quartet was an enchanting Toy Manchester. In the UK we call them English Toy Terriers and I have seldom seen a better one.
Breeders are fundamental to the health and welfare of the sport of dogs. Based on this assignment, are today’s breeders doing well by the sport and for their breeds?
Andrew Brace: Purebred breeders are so conscious of health and well-being, despite what detractors of the sport may say, and this collection of Toy dogs proved categorically that American breeders are doing a wonderful job.
A dog show of this magnitude is a monumental undertaking. Is there anything you’d like to say on behalf of the AKC and the show’s sponsors?
Andrew Brace: I have, as a journalist, repeatedly pointed out that the AKC does more than any other governing body in the world to promote purebreds to the public and this showcase event demonstrates its commitment and that of its sponsors, Royal Canin.
Now that it’s over, what are your thoughts on the 2023 show year? Any thoughts on the year ahead?
Andrew Brace: I will continue to judge the occasional show as my activities have been much reduced since becoming a full-time caregiver for my 96-year-old blind mother—which made the trip to Orlando all the more special.
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