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Love between handler and the Italian Greyhound during the Toy Group judging; The 2018 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin.
©American Kennel Club
Love between Italian Greyhound and handler at the 2018 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin.

In the spirit of the holiday season, let’s stop for a moment to acknowledge the joy that the sport of conformation gives us every week of the year, and the people who contribute to that joy. Let’s be thankful for:

  • Judges who are students of their dog breeds, know their standards, smile, and don’t look up the lead to make their decisions.
  • Ring stewards who can multi-task, and those who are organized, kind, patient, and not easily flustered.
  • Show photographers who are quick but not careless, possess good people skills, are timely with their delivery, and tell you to fix a topline or rear leg before it’s too late.
  • Professional handlers who are honest with clients, level with them as to how far a dog can or should go and what it will cost, and who present their dogs competitively without throwing the breed standard out the window.

  • Veterinarians who appreciate and respect good breeders, don’t trash purebreds because “designer dogs” might be the revenue-generating flavor of the month, and never make puppy buyers choose whose advice to follow when it comes to breeders versus vets.
  • Mentors with a gift for teaching, who are secure enough to know when to let go, can appreciate a few different styles within a breed, and have no agenda beyond helping newcomers learn the breed that they love.
  • Stud dog owners who are fair, recognize their male isn’t right for every bitch, and care about where the puppies will be sold.
  • Co-owners who back dogs offering quality and type, and not just showmanship, since these are the animals that could influence the look of a breed for years to come.
  • Club members who welcome newcomers, find them jobs to do, and treat them with respect, knowing they are the future of our sport.
  • Breeders who are experienced without being jaded, generous with their knowledge, and willing to pay it forward to others in the world of dogs.

Allan Reznik has been an Afghan Hound fancier since the early 1970s and also owns and exhibits Tibetan Spaniels. He is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster, who has served as editor-in-chief of several national dog publications. He appears regularly on radio and TV discussing all aspects of responsible animal ownership. Reznik is an AKC-approved judge of Afghan Hounds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and Tibetan Spaniels; on permit to judge a number of other Hound breeds.