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Have You Done Your Part?
Posted on 07/09/2011 in Full Circle.

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Right from the get-go, it starts with you, when you fill out a Performance Pack judge’s application at a club or when you request one with the intention of sending it in to the Field Operations Department. At that point in time, there are already a few very important questions you should have asked yourself before going any further.
The first one might as well be, am I physically able to keep up with five dogs running rabbits on a good scenting day for sixty minutes? If you are honest with yourself and the answer is no, then you should accept the fact that you are not going to be able to give the dogs and the participants that traveled to the hunt and paid their entry fee the fair shake that they deserve. Just throw the test in the trash and enjoy the hunt, and let someone who is capable do the job. If you are unsure, then by all means, the next time you run your own dogs (make it several) at home, go with them and try to keep up for an hour and you should have your answer.

If you can stay with a pack and really do think that you could be a good Performance Pack judge with some experience and the proper training, then the next question to ask yourself is, do I know the rules and know them well? Or did I just listen to people tell me what a Performance Pack dog is supposed to do and then just decide that I wanted to be a judge? If you believe you know the rules, then go back and reread them because I bet you missed something (we all have). If you do not know the rules, then I think it’s obvious that you either need to read them several times and learn them inside and out, or ask someone who does know them well what should be done in particular situations. The fact is that it would be virtually impossible to cover every possible situation and scenario in a rulebook that can fit into one’s pocket. One of the Performance Pack field representatives would be a perfect candidate and they would be more than willing to give you a few minutes of their time to help you better understand the rules and how to deal with situations that arise in the field. For contact information of a Performance Pack field rep that would be glad to help, contact Beagle Field Operations at 269-343-9020 or hounds@ukcdogs.com.

If you were able to truthfully say that you are physically able and know the rules well enough to be a judge, then the third question to ask yourself is, do I have the integrity to be a Performance Pack judge? It sounds like a simple one and I’m sure that most would say yes without hesitation. But if you have never judged a pack type of trial, then you probably should hesitate for a moment and really think about what all it entails to be a good Performance Pack judge, because it is not as simple as it might seem. Quite the contrary, actually; it is much more difficult to be a good one and therefore much more appreciated by all those who enter a dog in the hunt if you take the time to do your part.

For instance, can you look someone you know in the eye, and sooner or later it will end up being one of your friends, and tell them that their dog acquired three minuses for disrupting the pack, continually over-running the track and/or skirting difficult terrain? If you can’t tell them that and deal with the possibility of them getting upset with you, then you have no business being a Performance Pack judge. Just remember, there is no vote; you are it. You have to make all the calls, and make sure they are the right ones. As a judge, you are there to bring back the best dog in the cast based on a set of rules after 60 minutes on that given day. As a judge you need to be 100 percent positive that no matter who has a dog in the cast or what they are out of, you have the ability to go out there and judge those five dogs by the rules outlined in the rulebook and do what is right, not what someone else wants or thinks is right. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s a judging assignment and in order to be good at it you have to put forth the effort.

If you are physically able, knowledgeable about the rules, and have the integrity that it takes to be a good judge, then by all means, take the judges test. Just be sure to take it on your own without assistance from others and then mail it in. Upon receiving a passing score we will in return send you three apprenticeship forms. The next step is just as important as the rest and if you are serious about being a good judge you will not skip it.

While you are waiting for your apprenticeship forms to arrive, you should be thinking of and trying to find out who some of the best and likewise most experienced judges are, and try to spend as much time as possible shadowing them. Complete your three apprenticeship forms, as required to receive your judges license, but continue your apprenticeship and training with good experienced judges by logging as many hours of visual (hands-on) time in the field behind the dogs as they can possibly stand you for. And then go do the same thing over again with the next three or four best judges you can find. Nothing can replace logged time and experience in the field.

If you find yourself comfortable and confident after that and feel that you can do justice for the dogs and the participants who paid $15 or $20 per entry by doing an outstanding job of judging the hounds, then by all means step up at the next hunt and put your name on the list to judge. You are now a Performance Pack judge and you are needed at your local club because you have done your part.