Erick Conard's Lucky Hit Ranch

Judging the Judge:
How to Spot AKC Judges Who Shouldn't Judge Anatolians
By Erick Conard, January 2020

The ASDCA Times Editor's response regarding why this educational article was rejected,
followed by Erick's thoughts and response

"I am disappointed some ASDCA officials seem, to me, to be more concerned about protecting judges feelings than they seem to be concerned about informing judges of the essential Anatolian temperament, demeanor, and behaviors necessary for breed preservation."
Erick Conard

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Judging the Judge:
How to Spot AKC Judges Who Shouldn't Judge Anatolians

Lucky Hit Shadow Kasif (CASE) at 13 years still guarding the big pasture
Lucky Hit Shadow Kasif (CASE) at 13 years - on alert and guarding his flock in the big pasture
in both 2009 and 2011)

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ASDCA officials comments appear in black; my thoughts appear in red.

Hi Erick,
I hope all is well with you. Hopefully staying safe during this mass coronavirus ordeal. I finally had a chance to read through your article. Although, it is very informative and hits some spots right on...I really can't print this article in the Anatolian Times as written. It bashes the Judges and we have several club members that are Judges and I'm sure their feelings would be hurt. There are folks that I'm sure have friends that are Judges as well and if they read this ... they are probably going to wonder why we allowed such an article in the Anatolian Times in the first place.

(ASIDE: My concern is breed preservation... NOT Judges feelings. Especially if a judge doesn't understand correct Anatolian temperament, demeanor, and behaviors required to perform their guardian duties!!! These essential traits have already begun to be altered through judging selection for "generic show dog behaviors" in the ring. Many "generic show dog" behaviors are the opposite of correct working guardian Anatolian behaviors! Those interested in breed preservation cannot allow this shift in correct Anatolian working behaviors to continue. Ultimately, it will ruin the breed. It is imperative that our ASDCA club officers and board members become more proactive in breed preservation!

Yes, I've encountered some of the things that you mentioned - as in hold his head up high and let me see some animation... but at the same time, I've had Judges thank me for when they try to get my dog animated and the dog does not react. Maybe the Judges just want to see which dog reacts an which do not? I once took breed based on just that and the size of my dog. Small female, but very balanced and was not animated in the ring. The Judge even explained to the folks showing that day why she picked my dog over the rest. (The one and only time I've seen that done.) I remember her saying, the Anatolian is a large breed, not a giant. They should be well balanced and not be animated. This female is very balanced and was the only dog not animated in the ring. I'm sure she said more, but that was the only thing that stuck in my head that I remember to this day. I also have never encountered a Judge with a squeaky toy in the Anatolian ring. That's a new one on me.

(ASIDE: Based on her above comments, it is clear to me that the Times Editor understands that some judges look for qualities destructive to correct Anatolian temperament, demeanor, and behaviors. [By correct, I mean the temperament, demeanor, and behaviors developed in Anatolians over thousands of years guarding sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment.] However, when the judges want to see "which dogs react and which do not," it has been my experience that a good many judges are looking to reward generic show dog behaviors rather than to reward correct Anatolian temperament, behaviors, and demeanor. TO ME, IT IS THE ASDCA'S RESPONSIBILITY TO EDUCATE JUDGES WHO PICK ANATOLIANS WITH IMPROPER ANATOLIAN BEHAVIORS!

I'm focused on breed preservation rather than making a judge feel good, especially if that judge is making picks that chips away excellent working ability in Anatolians. It's my belief that A GOOD JUDGE WILL APPRECIATE BEING INFORMED WHAT IS AND WHAT IS NOT CORRECT FOR THE BREED. To me, what is correct and what is not correct is completely dependent on whether or not it helps an Anatolian guarding the flock or it hinders an Anatolian guarding the flock. EXCELLENT GENERIC SHOW DOG BEHAVIORS AND TEMPERAMENT HAS NO PLACE IN A PASTURE OF SHEEP AND/OR GOATS AND THEREFORE SHOULD NOT BE REWARDED IN THE RING!)

Anyway, there are some good Judges out there and yes some are in the learning phase. Don't expect everyone to know everything about our breed. We haven't been around that long. I've been to shows where the announcer forgot to mention what breed I was taking around the ring. I'm pretty sure half the club members can't recite our own breed standard. Instead of saying those ill-educated Judges.... (as that comes across as being derogatory) - word it differently. Maybe something like, I wish the Judges would notice this about our breed... or maybe the handler can present their dog this way.... word it so that someone reading the article doesn't get butt hurt.

(ASIDE: While I don't "expect everyone to know everything about our breed," I do expect an AKC judge tasked with the responsibility of judging Anatolians to at least understand breed basics, including correct Anatolian temperament, demeanor, and behaviors. As far as using terms like "ill-educated judges," since I consider the damage they are inflicting on the breed so eggregious, I think the term "ill-educated" to be a mild term for these judges!!!)

We have enough negativity on FB, we don't need it in our Club Magazine as well. You need to find a nicer way of saying things to get your point across.

(ASIDE: How very disappointing that you believe providing educational information about the temperament, demeanor, and behavior of Anatolians is negative!! I care about the damage being done by some AKC Judges to the thousands of years of development of a breed required to possess very specific temperament, demeanor, and behaviors. I would appreciate it if you, an ASDCA official, would express as much interest in breed preservation as you do in preserving the feelings of AKC Judges and their friends!

I have seen the genetic ability of Anatolians to effectively and correctly guard sheep and/or goats decrease over the last 20 years. I have not seen the leadership in the parent club (the ASDCA) do much to encourage breeding of Anatolians with superior working ability (lip-service but no actual action). Sadly, I have seen a great deal of focus (A GREAT DEAL) on dog shows and dog showing, which does nothing to ensure correct breed preservation! Breed preservation requires a focus on correct working ability, a focus I've not often seen by ASDCA club officials!

My experience is that club officials have described PRO-WORKING ATTITUDES AND IDEAS as "NEGATIVITY" and characterize a strong and active desire to ensure the preservation of the breed's essence (superior working ability) as "not nice!" It doesn't seem to me to matter how carefully or politely it is worded, if the statements clearly support preservation of superior working ability, the writer is asked "to find a nicer way of saying things to get your point across." I am offended when the ASDCA club officers place dog shows, show wins, and show related activites at a higher level of priority than they do livestock working ability, correct guardian behavior, demeanor, and temperament, and working related activities and articles. After all, livestock guardian ability is the essence of the breed. Show wins provide virtually no information regarding the dog's ability to guard livestock!!!

I'm also not too keen on the part where you mentioned that the folks doing the Judges Education aren't up to par. Most of the folks doing the Judges Education are folks with working dogs. Both Katie and EJ own working dogs, Lesley Brabyn owns working dogs, Diana Martinez owns working dogs. Each of these folks have livestock that live in a predator rich environment. Have you ever been to one of these Judges Seminars? I have, they are very informative and cover a lot of the stuff that you mentioned in your article. Each presenter has to follow a strict curriculum. You can't make stuff up as you go and you can't promote your own breeding. Yes, there usually are folks there at the seminars making sure the rules are being followed. Club members do attend these and I'm sure if things aren't up to par - someone's bound to hear about it.

I was unable to locate the place in my article where I said "the folks doing the Judges Education aren't up to par." One person I heard giving a judges educations seminar was Laura Edstrom Smith. I have always said that she did an excellent job in providing judges education because she did. However, if the judges continue selecting generic show dog temperament and disdaining correct working Anatolian temperament, which many still do, the club needs to make changes to the judges education being presented. Perhaps the club is too concerned about not offending judges who are slowly ruining Anatolians through improper temperament selections!

In my article I provided ideas I thought might help improve judges education, since I'm very interested in helping judges understand the correct and true nature of our breed. However, I'm not surprised a club official is upset when a club member (me) wants to provide ideas to help improve the working aspect of the breed. Over the years I have wanted to help the club and was "slapped down" for daring to suggest that something the club was doing was incorrect and/or could be improved. Generally, my ideas were focused on the working aspect of the breed... not the show aspect.

You say that the people providing judges education seminars are "very informative and cover a lot of the stuff that you mentioned in your article." Perhaps the people providing judges education have worded these thoughts so politely that the judges didn't understand just how vital to maintaining correct working ability that information is! Whatever the reason, too many judges still don't get it!

With your vast knowledge... have you ever applied to become a Judges Ed person? Maybe you should think about it and apply. It's easy to sit back and Monday night quarter back everything... but if you really want to help out and make changes - then step up and help out. Go to one of these seminars and see what you think.)

(Do you consider implying that I "sit back and Monday night quarter back everything" polite? Since you don't actually know what I have and have not done, I do not consider it polite. Also, it is incorrect. Remember, I have been a club member since 1985!)

I have been to a number of "these seminars" but it seems you automatically assume I haven't! As a matter of fact, when I was younger I applied to do many things for the club. Sometimes I got no response at all and other times the response was to place a club official, one with no experience in the area, in charge of the project I volunteered to do.

One thing I volunteered to do is be a Working Anatolian Mentor. I recently saw a Club "Mentor's" list and noticed many people were on the list but not me. Since I get an average of about five calls a week from people who are seeking my help with their working Anatolian problems, I had assumed I must have been added to the Working Anatolian Mentor's list. When I asked why I wasn't on the "Mentor" list, I was told that the "MENTOR's list" was for Show Mentors and that there was no club Working Mentor's list. Astonishing!! A breed whose entire existence was developed for thousands of years to WORK, but the club has NO WORKING MENTOR'S LIST!!! To me, this is yet another example of the club being so tightly focused on the SHOW aspect of the breed that they forget the breed is a WORKING BREED!)

I'm trying to keep this a friendly magazine where the strictly working folks, show folks and breed enthusiast can all come together and enjoy the one thing we all have in common. Our dogs.

(ASIDE: And I am trying to preserve the breed as it was developed in Turkey for thousands of years. The ASDCA is the AKC parent club and the place where "working folks, show folks and breed enthusiasts" should be able to come for accurate information about the true nature of Anatolians. The true nature of Anatolians includes only temperaments, behaviors, demeanors, and conformations that enhance the working ability in Anatolians. GENERIC SHOW DOG BEHAVIORS, DEMEANOR, AND TEMPERAMENT ARE ANTAGONISTIC TO CORRECT LIVESTOCK GUARDIAN BEHAVIORS, DEMEANOR, AND TEMPERAMENT. Anyone seriously dedicated to breed preservation will not accept temperaments, behaviors, and demeanors harmful to superior livestock guarding ability, even if it means their Anatolians are not favored by "ill-educated" AKC judges that select for generic show dog behaviors! )

On a side note, the article is pretty long - which means it will most likely be a part one and part two - depending on whether or not you want to make some changes to your article.

I am satisfied with my article the way it is written. If you don't want to publish it, it is the club's loss, not mine. It has been published on my website, which receives quite a bit of web traffic.

As a reminder the deadline is May 1st...

The article was published on my website prior to that date.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

I did contact you and I have included my email response below.

Many thanks, XXXXX.... The Anatolian Times Editor...

Erick's response to ASDCA REJECTION email


I appreciate your thoughts and point of view. And congratulations on you win as club president. I would love to believe that you plan to represent the working aspect of the breed as diligently as you do the show aspect. Since I have been an ASDCA member (starting in 1985) I have rarely seen club officers and board members actively support the working aspect of our working breed with much more than lip service. I'd love it if your presidency actively supports working Anatolians.

I am sorry that you believe my opinion regarding the way judges have been judging our breed is too unpleasant to print. Personally, I felt like I provided accurate and constructive criticism. I was hoping it would be useful and informative information. I actually held back regarding the poor job that I think many of the AKC judges have been doing in selecting dogs for correct working demeanor and temperament. I have been to numerous judges' education seminars over the last two decades and one judge told me that he didn't care what the breed required in temperament and demeanor to effectively perform its function. He was going to pick the dog with the best generic show dog behavior and demeanor because he thought they had a better chance of winning Best in Show! (Yes, he actually said that!) Laura E Smith had given an excellent talk just prior to that statement and she had done an excellent job of describing correct Anatolian behavior and demeanor. However, this judge didn't care, and said so! I think most judges that have been picking traits that are incorrect for our breed (developed for thousands of years to be fierce and loyal guardians of sheep and goats) either don't care or have not been provided sufficient club feedback regarding what is correct behavior and demeanor and what the club expects to be picked. Working Anatolian owners see exactly what I am talking about when I am speaking of AKC judges and their incorrect picks. Sadly, it is my belief that many of the officers and board members of the club lack the experience in the working area of the breed to understand how devastating these anti-working demeanor behavior judges' picks are for our breed. I include some people who style themselves as "working" Anatolian owners and breeders. You can call yourself anything but it doesn't mean that you are that!

I have been helping mentor working Anatolian owners for more than 20 years. I generally receive an average of five calls a week from people needing help with their working Anatolian pup who is behaving improperly with their sheep and/or goats. (I always ask who their dog's breeder is!) Quite a few of these people needing help have purchased pups from show only breeders and some from "working" breeders who were unable to give them guidance that actually worked! Two days ago, I got a call from a man who has been using Anatolians for quite a few years and who told me that he recently bought three different Anatolians from three different show Anatolian breeders and none of the three were capable of adequately guarding his sheep from predators. He told me he would never again purchase a pup from a show breeder!

(An aside - I was recently told that the list of "Mentors" on the web site were "show mentors." The fact that no one even thought about a list of "Working Mentors" for working people to contact seems to typify the club's prejudice in favor of the show Anatolians and their lack of regard for the working Anatolians and working Anatolian people. Since I receive so many calls for help with the working Anatolians, it had never occurred to me that the list did not include mentors for working situations. I couldn't believe the club was that biased!! I had volunteered to perform that function and wondered why my name wasn't on the working mentor list. That is when I was told it was a list of "show" mentors!")

Other working breeds who did not diligently work to maintain correct working characteristics have split their breed into two types, show and working. I think that would be detrimental to our breed and since most breeders sell a good number of their pups to working people, it would definitely reduce the show breeder's puppy sales. However, it seems to me as a dedicated working Anatolian breeder that the club is not actively attempting to maintain excellent working ability in our show Anatolians!!! The new Therapy dog award is an excellent example of creating awards for improper temperament! When I heard about that award I thought "The list of dogs under that award would be an excellent way for me to know which lines to AVOID!" Are the club officers and board members so unaware of the qualities necessary in a true working Anatolian that they don't understand this fact? (A working Anatolian is a dog guarding sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment. To be an effective guardian, the dog must exhibit certain and specific demeanors and behaviors, including an immediate change in personality from sweet to aggressive if a potential threat is observed.)

Another concern I've been hearing from these working people with problem pups more and more often is that the pups they purchased from show only breeders seem to be less and less capable as working Anatolians. I find it interesting that many people stress health testing as vital and important yet I've not seen much concern for the feelings of people who do not care to health test. (They are bashed and people believe the bashing is justified. No one seems to worry about their feelings!) They are told they MUST health test and if they don't, they can't be a club member! Yet I have not heard the same level of concern if a breeder doesn't care enough about their dog's working ability (the essence of the breed) to only breed proven working Anatolians! Perhaps in addition to requiring that all Anatolians bred have a passing OFA, we also require that all Anatolians bred are proven superior working Anatolians. Working ability is supposed to be our primary breed characteristic, isn't it? I place a higher priority on excellent working ability than I do on testing for OFA (although I have always OFA tested for both hips and elbows for decades!). Since the club doesn't think it is offensive to require OFA testing, why would the club think it's offensive to require breeding dogs to have proven superior working ability (that means they have proven themselves to be superior guardians of sheep and/or goats in a predator rich environment)?

You didn't like my use of the phrase "ill-educated judges." Since improper understanding of correct breed temperament, demeanor, and behavior seems to have been going on for decades, this improper understanding now appears to be accepted as correct. Therefore, I believe words like ill-educated are a good choice. If a judge is making improper decisions due to a lack of understanding of the true nature of the breed, I think ill-educated is a kind description! As far as people getting their feelings hurt... if they are judging the breed for the qualities that are necessary in working Anatolians, I see no reason for them to have hurt feelings. On the other hand, if they don't know what correct working Anatolian temperament, demeanor and behavior is then why are they judging Anatolians at all? Perhaps they should be embarrassed. Maybe it will motivate them to further educate themselves regarding the breed. I'm much more concerned about the future of Anatolians and maintaining correct demeanor, behavior, and temperament (necessary for them to perform their working duties) than I am about the embarrassment of individuals who have not received sufficient breed education to make judging selections in the qualities that help Anatolians perform their working duties well.

If you look at my article, you'll see I do not include ALL judges. I acknowledge that some judges are excellent and knowledgeable. However, I certainly don't believe in writing articles that only praise all judges even when we see that they have failed to understand breed qualities necessary for the dog to perform their work correctly! (I do appreciate that you are trying to help sanitize my article to make it more palatable to everyone. However, I'm not that political. My sole interest is in truly educating individuals, including judges, regarding the true nature of the working Anatolian.) I do not consider my statements negative. I consider them educational. Trying to please everyone sometimes completely hides the actual message!!! I have no intention of hiding my message and don't believe it is offensive to anyone who loves and values the true nature of Anatolians!

By the way, I did offer to help at judges' education seminars and that offer was not well received. I personally believe it is because I am too much in favor of the correct working Anatolian (and too outspoken about it for the club's taste) rather than favoring the generic show dog Anatolian. Show people seem to find my comments about improper temperament offensive but "real" working people immediately understand what I am talking about and tend to agree with me. Many people have told me that they offered to volunteer and then instead of being given the project, they are micromanaged by one of the officers or board members (or one of their good friends) and "ordered around like a peon" but not given any real authority over the project. They found it frustrating and offensive and said they'd never offer help to the club again. I tried to help for quite a few years myself and had similar unpleasant experiences. (I'll be happy to give you concrete examples if you'd like!) It has always been crystal clear to me that in this club, the show people are firmly in control and they like it that way and plan to keep it that way! Perhaps that attitude has something to do with the club's decline in membership?

Regarding the length of my article, "Judging the Judge"... I've seen boring show trip articles in the Times that go on for pages! While show people may find those articles quite interesting and fun to read, most working people I know just don't care to read about a dog going up to the room in an elevator, especially when it takes several paragraphs to describe! When your emphasis is on the working aspect of the breed, you'd like substantive articles that provide insight into the true nature of the breed. I haven't found that show stories provide that!

The only reason I found your email is that Leslie Sharp told me you'd sent it, so I went back and found it. I don't check my email and when I do I have a ratio of about 100 junk emails to one I have any interest in. Just because you send someone an email doesn't mean they will ever see it!!! I do, however, check my texts.

I know you meant well in providing your comments and I thank you for that consideration. I trust you know I mean well also and rather than find my comments negative, I trust you'll view them as constructive and informative! I have already published my article on my website and gotten some excellent feedback about it. These positive comments are from actual working Anatolian owners, of course, who seem to understand exactly what I'm talking about and don't find it the least bit offensive! I do hope that from what I've said you take to heart the fact that many working people don't care to be members of the ASDCA because they see the club as promoting the show Anatolian without caring much for the Working Anatolian! Please do not take that comment as offensive. It is meant to be helpful and if you view it as such it could prove to be useful. If the club is going to grow, we are going to have to find ways to make working Anatolian owners believe the club is as responsive to them as the club is to the show Anatolian owners.

Thank you,
Erick Conard

I have heard that the ASDCA wants open and honest communication and an end to the secrecy of the past.
This web page is provided in that spirit!

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