Can you describe your reaction to receiving an invitation to judge the Toy Group at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?
Cindy Vogels: It’s always a privilege and thrill to judge at Westminster Kennel Club. It’s been my great honor to judge breeds there many times, as well as the Terrier Group, Best in Show, and in 2023, the Toy Group.
What does it mean to judge a Group at this historic show?
Cindy Vogels: The Toy Group is wonderfully diverse, representing dogs from the other six Groups that have been scaled down in size. I have lived with several Toy breeds for years and, believe me, little companion dogs take their jobs very seriously! Depending on their ancestry, breeds take a unique approach to their tasks. The cat-like Chin has a very different appeal than the in-your-face “I love you and have to go everywhere with you” Cavalier. Toy dogs allow folks with space limitations the ability to enjoy dog ownership, and I truly think there’s a Toy dog appropriate for every household.
How challenging was this assignment? Can you share your selection process?
Cindy Vogels: Toy breeds were developed using other breeds to downsize. It’s extremely important to understand the breeds that were used to miniaturize each Toy breed, as many unwanted traits (what Mrs. Clark referred to as the “drag of the breed”) do tend to appear. For instance, the domed head that is prized in the English Toy Spaniel is shunned in the Cavalier.
When I judge Toy breeds, I put an emphasis on those breed-specific characteristics, particularly temperament, since it is the “work” of these little dogs to be, above all, appropriate companions. On the other hand, I heavily penalize any detracting traits that speak to the breeds used to miniaturize.
Do you have a word or two about your Group winner? About the dogs that placed?
Out of a lovely group, it was my pleasure to award the following:
First to the Pekingese, GCH Pequest Rum Dum, bred, owned, and exhibited by David Fitzpatrick. I had not judged this dog before, but was immediately impressed by his regal countenance, glorious coat, and smooth, rolling gait. Forward-set ears frame his broad, rectangular head. His facial features are clear, with the proper nose wrinkle that doesn’t interfere with the prominent, radiant eyes. His compact, pear-shaped body is coupled with short front and rear legs, allowing him to move with the requisite roll in front while maintaining a level topline.
Second to the Shih Tzu, GCHG Hallmark Jolei Out of This World, bred by Luke and Diane Ehricht, owned by the breeders, Bonnie Miller, and Susan Carter, and shown by Luke Ehricht. I judged this dog a while ago, and I think he has matured beautifully. His size and proportions are very pleasing, and he carries himself with the arrogant dignity suitable to the breed. His head is large, with a domed skull and short, square muzzle. He has beautiful, large, dark eyes and a large nose with open nostrils. His excellent coupling, body, and topline allow for easy, smooth movement. His correct flowing coat and friendly demeanor finish the picture.
Third to the Tri-Colored English Toy Spaniel, GCHB Ringo Star Ot Nevskogo Hobbita, bred by N.E. Sedykh, owned by Patti Caldwell and Richard Caldwell, and shown by Christopher Keith. I have been a fan of this dog for quite some time. Because I have close friends who are “Charlie” breeders, I truly understand their unique temperament and the difficulty of producing Charlies with the prescribed domed head and short, upswept muzzle, along with all the requisites behind the head to balance out a dog that is structurally sound. This dog, perhaps better than any ETS I have judged, ticks all the boxes.
Fourth to the Japanese Chin, GCHS Tacori Cin-Don Anamaechin, bred by Janet Lockyer and Beverly Merritt, owned by David Guitierrez, Dan Schieler, and Beverly Merritt, and shown by Amy Rutherford. I believe I have judged this black and white bitch on the breed level as shown by her owners. Chins are extremely devoted to “their people” and sometimes can be a challenge to show, but this bitch exudes that slightly “nose in the air,” confident, aristocratic attitude. She has wonderful length of leg and correct boning, allowing her to be light on her feet. Her wide, rounded skull and cushioned muzzle, combined with her dark round eyes set along the same plane as her nose, create the correct letter “3” outline when viewed from the side. She stands on four good legs with correct oval feet and moves with a level topline. Her correct coat is single and silky.
Now that your assignment is complete, what does Westminster mean to you personally?
Cindy Vogels: My thanks to Westminster Kennel Club, and particularly, David Helming, Show Chairman, and Don Sturz, President. Their ability to think “out of the box” ensures that year after year, no matter where the show is held, “there’s only one Westminster” and it’s a first-class event.
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