by Rick Giermata
The next time your at a field trial take a good look at the judges after the trial. You might notice them to look quite the mess. Sweaty, dirty, and sometimes bleeding or hurt. A lot of effort goes into running after 30 plus screaming Beagles for 8 hours. And it takes a dedicated houndsmen to take on this task. It's a lot of fun running after your own dog, but how much fun is it to most of us to look at dogs that we'll never see again, or might not want to. Yes, there are some folks who judge that we may not agree with. Some that we may not like. And some that just don't like our style of dog. But the bottom line is that they are judging because of their dedication to the sport. There is no limelight, no big pay day's, and definitely not too many Beaglers besides the winner that wants to invite the judge to dinner.
It is a thankless job the day of the trial. And the payday wont show for maybe years to come. The payday, is when a dog that was judged, and went on to finish for it's championship, starts showing up in the pedigree's of winning dogs. That's what this is all about, breeding a better Beagle. Trials are a test of a hunting dog. In hopes that the best can produce better than his or her self. The judges responsibility is to find the best dog out of those entered. It is sometimes not an easy thing to do, as a rule book can be read and understood quite different from person to person. Yes, sometimes when your dog picks up a check or does something good, the judge is no where to be seen. And when it does something bad, it's in front of the judge, but that's the luck of the draw, and should be expected before you enter the dog.
That is why most registries require a dog to win 2 or 3 trials and accumulate many points to earn the title of Field Champion. In this sport it's easy to be an arm chair quarterback, but it is a different world out there in the field. Judges are human and can also make mistakes, just like our Beagles. I would recommend to anyone who field trials to volunteer to field marshal at your local Beagle club. You will see the hard work that comes with taking on such an important roll of weeding out the pack, until your down to a flawless few. Later that day when your legs are sore, the thought of knowing that you helped the breed by honestly crowning the best dog down will make it all worth while!
Some may say bad things, and some will say good. But all will agree that you excepted your job and upheld your responsibility of judging the best dog entered that day. The next time your at a trial, win or loose, shake the judges hand and thank them for their efforts. Its a hard job, and a long day. Think of the judges from years ago that judged some of the All-Time Greats. Dog's that you may now have, many years later, in your hound's pedigree. I'm sure at those trials a few folks thought they got the screws put to them. But time spoke the truth many years later, by showing the many field champions and good hounds that where produced by them. It wasn't an accident, it was good judging!
Till next time, good hounds and good hunting!