Do you remember when you first went to a dog show? Do you remember thinking how badly you wanted to join the people showing their dogs? Do you remember standing around and talking to folks around the ring, listening to their stories and asking the beginning of millions of questions?
Well, my friend, those folks were your first mentors. As you learned to train your dog and yourself for the moment you both would enter the show ring, whether for conformation or performance, you were guided by one or two mentors. They provided you with information on how to enter a show and what to do in the ring. They guided you in how to train yourself and your dog. They spent hours talking with you about fine-tuning and what was needed to work to the level of competition that was your goal. You learned, and learned, and learned from your mentors.
When you decided you had the strength and fortitude to begin breeding, your mentors were right there with you. The hours driving to and from the shows were spent reciting and learning the health statistics of important pedigrees in your breed. These conversations afforded you the chance to work with the pedigrees of the breed you have come to love and protect, and enabled you to know where to take your dogs to breed. Mentors gave that gift to you. Mentors worked hard to push your own breeding program to the best it can be.
Did you know the AKC has a mentoring program for each parent club? The parent club certifies longtime breeders and handlers as experts in the breed standard, thus giving them the power (yes, I said power) to teach and guide judges in the best way to judge our breeds.
AKC judges may contact the parent club for a list of mentors in their breed. If you are a certified mentor, you may be contacted by a judge who wishes for you to spend time mentoring them. Just as your mentor has taught you, it is your responsibility as a mentor to teach our judges the important things to look at within your breed standard from a breeder’s standpoint.
Be a mentor, and share the information you and your breed club want to be taught to the folks who are judging.