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MEET THE JUDGE: PATI MERRILL

Why did you become a judge?
The truth -- and I have told this before -- I went to a show and the wife of a well known judge had just been "given" a license -- what an awful job she did! A dog appeared that we had never seen before. We thought he was a nice obedience entry -- 'til they handed him to a handler -- W(inners) D(og) - yea right! The worst part was giving a second in a class of four to a very young girl with a truly foreign type collie. I went for the AKC rep. I had nothing entered in the class (nor an entry in that sex). The well known husband-judge glared at me and the Rep. said, "Well, I, uh didn't see it." So I invited her to come the next day so I could point the alien type out to her. She was busy and never came over to the collie ring.

It to me was another judge using lack of knowledge to judge. This woman had been coming to the shows with her husband for the last two or three years. She found the all-breed handler. We never saw the WD again. . . A year or so later, a very well known judge judged and put up a handler who had a dog crawling the ground. . . I went for the Rep. . . only to be told, if you think you can do better, then apply. I did.

First question was. . . Why do you want to be a judge? Well, I answered it with the short version of the above -- maybe a little stronger language -- as in "political" and "crooks." I Didn't get a license and that made me mad, so, about a year later I applied again and dern if they didn't give it to me. I wasn't even sure I really wanted it.

What is the measure of a successful judge?
Nobody has threatened to kill you? Naw, success comes in two packages. Some judges have a lot of assignments, and some do good judging. Sometimes the package is combined, sometimes not.

I will say from a breeder point of view, I respect many judges -- and at least half of those may only do one to two shows a year. And they may never have put me up -- but I can follow their judging and I know what they want. If I have a dog who is in their realm -- I go. And I suggest to collie clubs -- use these specialty judges. Why use "all rounders" when you can show under an "all rounder" the other 35 to 50 weekends of the year.

From a judge's point of view -- I guess it is the amount of shows you do. . . and the size of the entry. From that perspective, some years I have been successful and some years not. One time I did a show and most of the winners were owned by one person from out of state -- I didn't get asked back to that state for eight years. And, if I had to do it again, I would do the same and be locked out for maybe 16 years.

Clubs have habits of wanting to bring in judges that would be good for the club member's dogs. Bring in the best judge available -- if you can't win, maybe you will next time.

What dog have you seen that comes/came closest to embodying your vision of the Standard?
Because I am still judging -- best (that) I answer (naming) earlier dogs or not name the dog.

I loved Stormalong. He was a total feast. There was a sable whose face I loved -- Vi-Lee Balladier. I thought Blue Jeans was another feast. With some parental pride, I loved the head planes on Stalwart. Silver Bullet was another love (with) that head and face. Starry Starry Night and Storybook Romance were bitches I wanted to steal! And I was definitely thinking I ought to have kidnapped Farrah. Midnight Express was my type of guy and Dancing in the Light is my kind of girl.

As for finding the closest to the standard -- I judge on the day. Some of the younger dogs get better and better. Some don't. Some of the older dogs are still so good I could cry over their greatness. Sometimes I love a dog's qualities for 8, 10, 12 years. And that, to me, is the closest thing to the Standard.

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