Be On Time

    be on time


    For those of us who have had the honor of being on the judging panel for the Westminster Kennel Club during those years when Tom Bradley served as Chairman, you came away remembering Tom’s only rule, which was just three words: “BE ON TIME.” Those three magic words should be a creed to both exhibitors and judges. When you think of the magnitude of shows such as Westminster, which is televised and has a schedule to keep, being on time is paramount.

    As both a judge and an exhibitor, I am always amazed at the number of exhibitors who are not ready and make the judge wait while they are outside the ring talking to their friends. Some have multiple entries and no help to allow them to quickly switch dogs so that they don’t hold up the judging. Exhibitors are quick these days to be critical of judges for not spending enough time on their dogs during judging, while not admonishing their peers who routinely keep the judges waiting.

    Exhibitors are quick these days to be critical of judges for not spending enough time on their dogs during judging, while not admonishing their peers who routinely keep the judges waiting.

    Then there are also those exhibitors who don’t show up until the class has already started being judged, and then want to be admitted to the ring. I know that I do not allow latecomers into my ring once I have examined the last dog. There is a published schedule for a reason. The schedule allows the show to run in a timely fashion while also giving the exhibitors a really clear window when they may be called to the ring. The exhibitor is responsible for keeping track of the ring and taking into consideration that, in some cases, a few dogs (or maybe an entire breed) may be absent and they must be at ringside regardless.

    When judges get behind schedule, for any reason, it may affect the Group judging. When this happens, Groups start later or have gaps that keep the show running longer than needed—causing many of today’s shows to rarely finish Best in Show before 6:00 PM.

    Those of you who may follow my column know that I occasionally refer to music as a storyteller. I was recently on vacation at Disney World with my entire family. Disney has, over the years, created so many great original songs for its films and characters. While there, I again heard the song from Beauty and the Beast, “Be our Guest.” It is a catchy tune and I found myself thinking about Tom’s famous three words, “Be on Time.” I found myself inserting words into the tune to reflect our sport. Here is my version of the song which I’ve titled, “Be on Time,” sung to the tune of “Be Our Guest.”



    Be on Time!
    Be on Time!

    Keep those rings running right
    Get those leads around their necks
    And let the judges do the rest
    Set them up
    Take them around
    Your job has just begun
    Try to be a team, be exquisite
    Don’t believe me? It’s really easy
    They can gait and they can pose
    After all, it’s a dog show
    A win here is never second best
    Go on, get that armband ready
    Stand ring-ready at the gate.

    Be on time
    An on-time guest
    Be on time

    No hold-ups, don’t waste time.
    When you are late your peers will be enraged
    Be prepared and show with flair.
    Become a canine cabaret.
    You might be new and even scared.
    But you know you have prepared
    Don’t be gloomy or complaining
    Dog shows can be so entertaining
    Tell yourself, “I can do it.”
    Your charge is in your grip
    And that judge has perfect taste, that you can bet
    Go on now and show yourself
    You have entered so take your chance
    If needed take a Xanax we suggest
    Being late is so unnerving for a judge who is standing
    He is not on time if he’s waiting

    Be on time
    Be on time
    Be on time

    Ah, those good old days when most were seasoned
    Suddenly, those good old days are gone.
    Cell phones and videos
    Used so much to fuel the fires
    We need more practice to improve our skills
    Most days, we just lay around while our dogs
    Become flabby, fat, and lazy.
    You walk into the ring and oops-a-daisy

    Are you on time?
    Are you on time?

    Snakes alive, we’ve been blessed!
    You were ready thank the lord
    All those coats are freshly brushed
    With her nails short, she looks great.
    And my dears that’s fine with me
    While the judges do their thing
    It’s up to you to keep them looking
    She stands still, super still
    For heaven’s sake, it’s spot-on!
    Do it well, the judge must be impressed
    Down and back
    And then around
    So fantastic
    For you our judge


    I’m on time
    I’m on time

    Your commands, I must respect!
    And thank God we are all here.
    And we’re obsessed with that major
    And are at ease
    While we aim to please
    Our confidence is growing
    Let us help you, we’ll keep showing
    Dog by Dog, One by One
    Until he shouts, “You are number one.”
    Winners or even Best of Breed
    Maybe even Group One.
    But for now, I must remember…

    Be on Time!
    Be on Time!
    Be on Time!


    I know the lyrics are a little silly, but I hope you’ve enjoyed them and—from now on—you will always BE ON TIME!

    • Walter Sommerfelt of Lenoir City, TN has been involved in the sport of purebred dogs since acquiring his first Old English Sheepdog in 1972. He is a former professional handler as well as a breeder, and exhibitor of breeds in all seven groups, most notably Vizslas, OES, Pointers, Bearded Collies and Weimaraners. Judging since 1985 he is approved for All Sporting, Working, and Herding breeds and groups, Junior Showmanship and Best in Show and has had the honor of judging on four different continents. Mr. Sommerfelt has judged many of the most prestigious shows in the United States including the herding group at the 2014 Westminster Dog Show in New York City where he has judged on three separate occasions. Mr. Sommerfelt was the founder and chairman for the St. Jude Showcase of Dogs from 1993 until 2009, a unique event showcasing the world of purebred dogs. This special event was the largest collection of various dog events in one location, featuring an AKC all Breed Dog Show, AKC Obedience and Rally Trials, AKC Agility trials, (prior to AKC adding agility NADAC trials ) One of the largest Fly ball tournaments in the U.S.A., Herding and go to ground demonstrations, A main stage featuring performances by Canines from Television and the Movies, Freestyle, Demos by drug and various therapy dogs, A full room of booths for meet the breeds, over 50 AKC judges seminars annually, Lure coursing, A fun Zone for Children, and other dog related fun activities for the general public and their dogs. Over the years the event not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the world-renowned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, but also raised awareness of the many activities for people with their dogs as well establishing a voice for dog people in the Memphis area with regard to legislation. Many aspects of today’s AKC Royal Canin show can be traced back to the St. Jude event. Along with Carol his wife of 36 years they have bred well over 90 AKC Champions including Group, Best in Show and Specialty Winners, dual Champions and multiple performance titled dogs. During the past 40 years Mr. Sommerfelt has been active in a number of dog clubs and is currently the President of the Tennessee Valley Kennel Club. He is recipient of the AKC outstanding Sportsmanship Award and is also a career agent and financial planning specialist with Nationwide Insurance. The Sommerfelts’ have two grown children, both former Junior Handlers and they are still active breeders and exhibitors of the Vizsla breed.

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