When Nichola Moore very kindly asked me to judge, it was a real thrill. I first met Nichola in Downpatrick many years ago when we both sat our written exams for the Higher Diploma, it was always good to find another (crazy) soul on the exam route !! Since then I know she has worked tirelessly in her own salon and training centre, and more recently on the organising committee of Saintfield Show, more particularly the k9 Expo. She must have been powered by Duracell that day, as I have rarely seen a more committed and cheerful organiser as herself!
While we were sadly one judge down due to unforeseen circumstances, Nichola and I got cracking with the 30-odd dogs that were presented. Each competitor worked on just one dog, which I guess eased the stress a little of not having to keep an eye on another dog in the wings so to speak. All competitors were well briefed on cordless clippers only, and portable tables, and all worked very gamely in a tight enough area. Plenty of spectators came and went, but the venue was not overly noisy and all the dogs were well settled. Plenty of chocolate and drinks were available, it's amazing how you forget to eat on these days! I liked the idea of a quick toilet break halfway through the class, something I hadn't seen implemented before. It seemed to really settle dogs and groomers alike.
Judging itself was a little tight for time, with everyone having to wait for both Nichola and myself to go over their dogs. This is of course tiring for everyone, but everyone kept a smile on their faces. The judging can vary from show to show, as judges are usually fairly sure what they like and dislike. It means that , unlike an exam, anything goes so long as the judge likes it! Of course, not everyone will agree, but I found Nichola and I are similar enough in that we are both sticklers for clean and matt-free dogs! What I personally love to see is a good affinity between the dog and the groomer. This doesn't mean they must be cooing over the dog throughout the session, but a relaxed dog with lots of exchanged glances and a few wags of a tail just makes me smile. It was nice to be able to acknowledge this by the Judges Choice award, and I was blown away by the generous sponsorship throughout the day. Not one person went home empty-handed, which is always great when such effort has been made to get there.
I felt the winners were well-deserved, but it is always a tough decision no matter what.... someone has to win in the end. I always love to give critiques , I don't like to think someone has gone away wondering what they should have done to gain a higher place. So I was very glad to see a queue of people after the class, some without their dogs ( always a good memory test!). I hope everyone was happy with how the day went. I was so well looked after during my trip, it was a really lovely weekend all round.Many Thanks again to Nichola and her team for inviting me to judge .
Suzanne O'Sulivan LCG
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