I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I retired North and currently live in Wisconsin on a lake about 45 minutes out of Green Bay. Needless to say, it is mandatory to be a Packer fan!
I am regularly approved to judge the Terrier and Sporting Groups and Best in Show, and provisionally/permit approved for the Non-Sporting Group.
Background: As a boy I grew up with a pet Wire Fox Terrier that won “Best Trick” at the neighborhood pet show. After college, I purchased a Wire bitch out of Crackley breeding and finished her in 1958, winning a BIS with her under Marie Meyer. Forty years later, I began judging the Terrier Group.
Mentors: Since Iowa is not exactly a hot spot for Terriers, there was no Terrier mentor in the area. I learned to trim by reading some articles on grooming and by trial and error. I took my bitch to the International KC of Chicago and thought I had her looking good. Harold Florsheim’s kennel manager, Mac Bell, must have seen my interest and proceeded to pull a pile of hair. He taught me a valuable lesson: Beginners leave too much hair. Doc Booth was also very encouraging to me and anyone else who was keen on Wire Fox Terriers.
Breeding and showing: I imported a son of the 1962 Crufts BIS winner Ch. Crackwyn Cockspur in order to linebreed my bitch and establish Bowyre Kennels. My first homebred champion, Ch. Bowyre Cockney Girl, was No. 1 bitch in the country. I imported a number of Wires from England over the next 40 years to supplement a small show kennel breeding program. We bred maybe one litter a year and finished 70-some Wire champions. We bred 51 champions. Most of those were bred, trimmed and exhibited by myself and my wife, Janie [also an AKC judge — Ed.]. We had a number of BIS-, Group- and Specialty-winning Wires over the years.
Years ago I had an all-breed handler’s license because that’s the way it was “back then” when you applied for a handler’s license. But we showed mostly our own dogs and carried a few clients’ dogs, mostly Terriers. I worked as an engineer, so I was limited in the area and number of shows I could attend. It was sad to see Wire Fox Terriers go on the low-entry breed list last year.
Dogs at home: We closed the kennel when I began judging. Because we showed and campaigned our own dogs, it was a conflict of interest.
Any pet peeves you wish to make exhibitors aware of? Not really, but it would be helpful if exhibitors saved the bait until after the judge has gone over the mouth.
How many AKC shows do you judge per year? Judging is feast or famine; one year you are busy and the next year you catch up on your yard work.
Foreign judging: I was honored to judge Wires at the Fox Terrier Club of England show in 2005. I was elected President of the Wire Fox Terrier Association of England and judged the club show in 2010. I also judged Wires at the Birmingham Fox Terrier Club of England some years ago and had the largest entry of the year. I have also judged in Ireland, Australia, Canada and South Korea.
All-time favorite assignments: It’s always special when you judge a premier breed like Wire Fox Terriers but especially so in the country of origin. In this country, I was also very pleased with my two assignments at the Wire Club of the Central States, which is usually the best entry of Wires each year. Of course, judging Montgomery County for the American Fox Terrier Club was a memorable assignment Ñ including the good weather.
Favorite dogs judged from the past? I noticed the Bulldog ‘Goober,’ Ch. Marinebull’s All the Way [one of the top dogs of all breeds in 1976 — Ed.], when he was a puppy and was fortunate to beat him one day for BIS with our homebred bitch. There are some dogs like him that transcend their breed, and they become great ambassadors for their breed and show dogs in general. You don’t have to know the standard to know it’s a “good ‘un.” I didn’t judge either of these dogs, but I think the German Shepherd Dog, ‘Manhattan,’ Ch. Covy-Tucker Hill’s Manhattan, and the Kerry Blue Terrier, Ch. Melbee’s Chances Are, fall into that category, just to mention a couple from the past.
Biggest problem currently facing the sport of dogs? We are losing the broad base of breeder-exhibitors who entered and expanded the sport in the 1960s through the ’80s. I think it is more difficult to be a breeder-exhibitor these days. It is impossible to attend weekday shows when you work at a normal job. It’s hard to maintain a number of dogs due to pressure from animal rights groups and restrictive legislation. The costs of showing have greatly increased. I think many in the younger generation have many interests available to them that don’t require the same level of commitment, so fewer young people are replacing the “old guard.”
Because of too many shows, the level of competition and number of entries have declined. Unless a show can pull majors, it will also be hard for the show-giving club to survive. So perhaps the sport has come full circle and the number and size of shows will decline. But unless we have bred competition out of the human spirit, the sport of dogs will survive.