BULLSEYE’s Zane Smith started judging at dog shows back in the time when most All Breed Clubs would hold A Matches, where anywhere from 100-300 dogs (mostly puppies and young show prospects) could be entered on average across the six groups. His first time judging was at age 16 (1979) when he judged all Terriers and the Terrier Group at Superstition Kennel Club’s annual match show. “When it came to the my judging the Terrier Group that day, there were 12 breeds represented, and I awarded the group to a Smooth Fox Terrier shown by the then 12 year old owner-breeder-handler, Amy Rutherford, now a very successful All Breed Handler”.
“After judging a lot of these matches over several years and doing a tremendous amount of ring stewarding at AKC shows, as well as having shown my dogs in hundreds of shows and breeding a number of Champions – I was 22 years old when I first applied for Staffordshire Bull Terriers as a fully licensed AKC Judge. I remember my original interview was with the very well known and respected AKC Field Rep at that time, Mrs. Kay Radcliffe. I don’t think anyone was seeing me become a judge at the age of 22, and it honestly met with a lot of resistance because of my age.”
According to the AKC at that time, I was the youngest person ever granted such status in the modern day in the entire U.S. in any breed. At that point, there were only two Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeder-judges in the U.S.: Judi Daniels (Starzend) and the now late Doc Martin from Indiana (Doc’s Little Staffs). Judi of course, having had the first Champion in the breed in the U.S., the impressive dark brindle Australian import bitch from Jan Bruce, CH Northwark Becky Sharpe (Aust Imp) as well as other Staffords such as Bringarry Dangerman (UK Imp), CH Gamecock Collectors Item and CH Trugrip Jezebel. Dr. Martin had owned the first Stafford bitch to have ever placed in a Terrier Group in America, the beautiful red bitch, CH Kingsblood Royal Val.
What fascinated me about the judging process, having watched it, and of course, handling dogs in it, was how a judge could intelligently access a group of dogs and apply the breed standard to each exhibit in only a few minutes time, and then make a good decision with each class. What bothered me was that in my youthful view, I did not think the judging was consistent nor very intelligent in many cases, and I wanted to be better than that if I ever became a judge. Furthermore, I had shown dogs to so many judges, who I felt were inattentive, rude and completely disinterested in the dogs and the breed they were judging. I swore to myself that if I ever became a judge that I would be friendly, courteous and attentive to every dog and handler that I would ever judge!
To further my education and exposure to the breed internationally, it was my good fortune to have spent almost my entire my senior high school summer in England with the many friends I had made over through my teen years by the mail and phone. The first and foremost was my breed mentor, Albert Wood (Reetuns). Albert had exported Eng.CH Reetuns Lord Jim to us, who had been the Top Stafford in the UK in 1974. The story of how Lord Jim came to be exported to America is quite a story by itself. I consider having learned from many mentors and friends who included that summer, and throughout the years, all of whom I either traveled with, lived with or visited, including:
Alec Waters (Ashstock), Joyce Shorrock (Eastaff), Freddie Phillips (Cradbury), Brian & Joyce Grattidge (Karjobri), Trevor & Brenda Rowe (Rowenda), George Earle (Judael), Eddie Pringle, John & Joyce Hemsley (Parkstaff), Jim Parsons (Tinkinswood), Brian Owen (Brystaff), Terry Giles, Ken Bailey (Benext), Tony & Clare Lee (Constones), June Horsfall (Dennybeck), Harry & Mary Coble (Surestaff), Mike Homan (Evaradee), Roma Williams (who owned Eng.CH. Christopher of Geneva), Bert Emmett (Elvinor), Gerry & Joan Holmes (Holmstaff), Elaine & Tec Norton (Tikkurilan), Vic & Betty Pounds, Lionel & Jo Hemstock (Jolihem), Les & Kay Aspin (Scarthwaite), Dr. Ian Davidson (Rothersyke), Jim & Nancy Bolton (Rapparee), Norm & Dorothy Berry (Rendorn), Norman Entwistle (Vencristo), Bryn Cadogan (Dogan). Harry Robinson (Hamason), Roger & Doreen Pugh (Rocellio) and Danny Gilmour (Dumbriton), among others.
“I even had the privilege to meet Gerald Dudley (Wychbury) a master of the breed in the early years, as well as Bill Boylan – who was a true original, instrumental in our breed from the start, and judging the breed in 1936! – both very elderly by then, both were a delight and still remembered so much at their ages. I spent literally hundreds of hours with these knowledgeable, opinionated and experienced men and women – absolute hallmarks of the breed – and saw hundreds of Staffords that no other American has, or will ever see in the flesh, nor most present day UK breeders and owners either. It was an experience that cannot be duplicated, and one that launched my education and experience into an entirely different level.
In America, I was also able to spend time with Gwen Gallimore of Wystaff fame, once she moved from the UK to America following the passing of her husband in England. Gwen had taken the position of managing the famous Gamecock Kennels in Maryland owned by the late Claude Williams, who bred many worthy and influential Staffords in the early years in America, including CH Gamecock Another Brinsley Lad, CH Gamecock Collectors Item and CH Gamecock The Great White Hope. Brinsley Lad was actually the first Stafford to ever place in a Terrier Group (4th) in the U.S. once there was full breed recognition in 1975. Although I never met Mr. Williams, I admired his knowledge and experience and many of the dogs he had bred and owned.”
“I remember the first open show I ever judged in England, I had an entry of about 50, back when Open shows in the UK were popular and well attended. It was held in the Midlands and it was in the early 1980’s. I think a lot of people entered to find out what is this kid from America was going to do in our breed over here!! I ended up giving Best Of Breed to a white dog, who later became The Top Stafford in the UK, and went on to win Crufts and become an English Champion – Eng.CH Cradbury Flash Boyo.”
“My Best Bitch on the day also later became an English Champion and also was Top Stafford one year in the UK, the gorgeous black brindle bitch, Eng.CH Tondoo Miss Moonshine. I guess having put up these two unknown Staffords at the time, gave me confirmation that I had a future in judging!”
“In the early years, I also had the good fortune of meeting and showing under a number of world-renown Breeder-Judges from the UK who came over to judge the huge match shows that the SBTCA brought over. In those days there were no approved specialties and the national club held their own shows without any AKC points to be had, with entries typically ranging from 50-100 Staffords.
It was amazing given the newness of the breed. The enthusiasm and support was just terrific. Judges came who had worldwide reputations in the breed including Ron Servat, who had owned one of the first Champions of the breed in the UK (Eng.CH Head Lad Of Villmar) and he had judged in every country in the world where there were Staffords. Others came to judge, such as A.W.A. Cairns (Constones), Ken Fensom (Pitbul), Vic Pounds, who had owned the very famous pied bitch, Eng.CH Kerrisdale Orchids Fancy, Yvonne Reeder (Gamester) from Australia, Dennis Rowland (Piltdown-UK) who was brother to Ed Rowland (Piltdown) who had immigrated to America with his wife Sylvia and led the breed in the Eastern U.S. for years, and whom I bought my first Stafford from, Piltdown Miss Equal.”
These experiences have allowed me to develop a worldwide sense of the breed, and the ability to access dogs as a judge with large entries, in many countries of the world. Such experience and exposure takes such a long time, and I am grateful that I started with the breed at such a young age to allow me the time to develop what most can never duplicate again.
East Midlands SBT Championship Show – November 1991
“A few friends at the East Midlands SBT CH show. I lined them all up and took this picture myself!”
Top Row: (L to R): Gerald Westwood (NETHERTONIAN); Albert Wood (REETUNS); Mrs. Jo Hemstock (JOLIHEM); Derek Smart (WARDRUM); Vera Westwood (NETHERTONIAN); Harry Robinson (HAMASON); Ken Fensom (PITBUL); Malcolm Boam (FULFIN & owner of UK CH Black Tusker); George Walton (WALSTAF)
Botton Row (L to R): Maj. John Turner (JONUNAS); Mrs. Clare Lee & Tony Lee (CONSTONES); Joyce Shorrock (EASTAFF).
“This was the day I first saw CH Red Adair Lucky Warrior of Samtor, who I imported a few months later.”
Southern Counties Championship Show, UK, May 31, 2014
Bitch CC and Best Of Breed, CH Bellarouge Blithe Spirit JW
Challenge Dog and Runner-Up BIS Akinos Zeus Da Man
Best Open In Show Akinos Zeus Da Man & Best Opposite Open In Show CH Artisinal The Pawn Queen
Best in Show Gr Ch Castlebar Strip Search & Runner Up Best in Show Akinos Zeus Da Man
Darlington Championship Show in England
Bitch CC & BOB, Eng. CH Bourtie Steal The Limelight with breeder/owner Mrs. Anne Dick (Bourtie)
RCC Bitch, Eng. CH Leger Knockout Whist, with handler Alan Hedges
Dog CC Eng. CH Stormpike Dark Lord
Manchester Championship Show (UK) January 2005
Bitch CC UK INT IRE CH Lackyle Ceal Na Olc
SBT Society of NSW Championship Show in Australia
Best in Show Puppy
Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of Finland