Developing An Eye For a Dog: Recorded LIVE San Mateo Kennel Club invited PureDogTalk to sponsor a live expert roundtable at its all-breed show in March. Exhibitors who participated were treated to a rare opportunity to interact directly with some of the most knowledgeable people in the sport. Judges Pat Trotter, Desmond Murphy and Ken Murray were joined by professional handler Andy Linton to address the topic of developing an eye for a dog and answer audience questions. "Lifers" Share Their Knowledge These folks are what we think of as “lifers” in dogs. They started young with a passion for dogs and have applied that intensity to achieving their goals as breeders, handlers and judges. Each and every one of the panelists is a life-long student, who possesses the noted “eye for a dog” we were discussing. While each of the panelists brought their own perspective to the conversation, there was complete agreement that developing an eye for a dog entails focusing on and rewarding a dog’s virtues rather than picking at faults. Riffing on a quote from the well-known judge of the ‘60s, Bea Godsol, whom Trotter noted was gifted with a tremendous eye for a dog, the panelists each shared their spin. Ken Murray – “Great dogs carry their faults well,” Pat Trotter – “An absence of faults doesn’t guarantee virtue,” Desi Murphy – “Great dogs blind you to their faults.” Andy Linton agreed, noting also that, “having an eye for a dog gives you responsibility in so many ways. Do I take that dog to show? Do I put that dog up? Do I breed that dog? The more you know, the more responsible you become.” “An eye for a dog,” according to Trotter, “is when you see one that gets your attention. It’s an arresting animal because it exudes beauty and correctness. Like a work of art.” Trotter added wryly, that “Sometimes great dogs get lost at shows where they are the right look. They’re different from the other dogs who are, shall we say, modest at best.” Even if a person isn’t “born with it” in terms of that eye for a dog, Trotter does believe that study and learning and listening to the greats in a breed will allow someone to develop the skill. Murphy qualifies that with an observation that some people are simply better at the skill than others. “I mean there were certain subjects, if I went to school for 10 years on that subject I would never have been any good,” Murphy observed. “… judges are like dogs. You have excellent, very good, good, satisfactory and unsatisfactory.” When an audience member asked how to know which judges have an “eye for a dog” and how to discern to whom they should show their “great dog that doesn’t look like the others,” Bill McFadden, speaking up from the gallery, noted we all need “an eye for a judge.” Trotter summed up much of the advice with this observation, “I think one thing that helps breeders is to look at your own dogs with a jaded eye. Look at them with a jaded eye and see their shortcomings. And look at your competition through rose colored glasses. That will help you advance in your efforts to become a better evaluator as a breeder and exhibitor.” Please enjoy this special and valuable conversation. What it may lack in our normal audio quality, it more than makes up for in the quality of the knowledge. Additional Q&A coverage from this event is available ONLY to our PureDogTalk Patrons! Click the button on our website to “Be My Patron on Podbean” for more information about joining the “in” crowd. And, making a surprise Thursday appearance, Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week from the Leading Edge Dog Show academy provides insight on dealing with stains on white dogs.