I checked out Dog News today on line and saw the cover story featured a Bedlington bitch shown out of the Northwest by a well known professional handler. The photo does a nice job of pairing the dog with the handler’s face so even the most neophyte judge will know that is the dog they can feel good about picking. Fortunately, this bitch is shown almost exclusively in the Northwest and the Terrier groups are weak there so placing her in the group isn’t too much of a stretch. But as I looked at the picture a little more closely I noticed something odd: The bitch’s nose was black! Why is that so odd, you might ask? Well….the bitch is a liver. Livers have brown noses. Even if the nose in the picture was very dark brown, it is still incorrect. The nose is a not dark brown, it is a sort of medium, moist brown. Obviously, the picture had been Photoshopped, and by somebody who doesn’t know much about the subject. The problem I have with all this is so many judges don’t seem to know the difference either. This altering of an exhibit actually says to judges, “Look, isn’t this pretty? Forget about the breed standard, forget what you are trying to learn, just pick this dog. Really we’ve just made it a little more perfect for you but you get the general idea. PICK THIS ONE!”
With the proliferation of dog shows, there as been the need to “fast track” judges to keep pace. Judges have to become virtually instand experts on breed they may see very few of. Nobody wants to look like a fool and I believe some newer judges rely on the ads to steer them in the right direction. When an ad such as this one appears, obviously poorly retouched for effect, it mocks all the exhibitors who really care about what they bring to the ring and all the judges who read the standard and try to judge dogs.
Advertising is an option open anybody who shows dogs and has deep enough pockets. You want to show your dog’s latest win in hopes judges, who are sent these magazines for free, will give themselves permission to pick him. You focus on his attributes and how he fits the standard. But when a dog is altered in print to reflect the standard more closely than it does, it really only fools people not familiar with the standard and perpetuates the belief within the fancy that the owner/handler on a small budget doesn’t have a chance and that judges look over the dog’s head into the handlers face and search for approval and recognition there.
The Bedlington in the ad is also unnaturally white. White is not in the breed standard for any color of Bedlington. What the advertisers of this otherwise decent bitch have done is to create an animal that looks like a roach backed, thin Bichon, complete with little black eyes (also incorrect for a liver), a black nose and a glowing white coat . The advertisers have created a characature of one of the most beautiful breeds in the ring and will probably be rewarded for it.
But then again, maybe this will backfire on them and judges will forever be looking for the liver bitch they saw in the ad, you know, the one with the black nose. One can only hope.