QUARTZ HILL – Seasoned dog show judge Nancy Talbott will await her debut as a judge at the 146th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show presented by Purina Pro Plan, after the show was postponed to a later date this year due to an increase in the Omicron variant in New Year’s Town.
The iconic dog show was due to return to New York later this month after the 2021 event was held outdoors at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is a huge honor to be invited to judge at Westminster,” Talbott said in an interview at her home in Quartz Hill ahead of the dog show’s postponement announcement.
Talbott didn’t expect to be invited to judge at the Westminster Kennel Club, as he is based in New York City and focuses on the East Coast.
“It’s kind of a cutting edge experience for me,” Talbott said.
Talbott has been judging since 1993 in the United States as well as in many foreign countries, including Sweden, Australia, South Korea and Indonesia.
“It’s a hobby that has allowed me to meet wonderful people all over the world, travel and do what I love to do which is be with dogs,” said Talbott.
She has judged other important shows such as the AKC National Championship in Orlando, Florida. In addition, she has judged several national specialties Golden and Labrador Retriever in the United States, Canada and Australia.
“These are real honors too, but Westminster Kennel Club, I can check that on the to-do list,” Talbott said.
About 2,000 dogs were scheduled to compete at Westminster. The dog show is spread over three days. Talbott was to serve on several races at Pier 36 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan during his first assignment as a judge in Westminster.
Talbott is said to have judged Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Curly Coated Retrievers, Flat Coated Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Weimaraners.
“My job is to select the best of the breed from each of these five breeds,” said Talbott.
The winners of the best purebred dogs that Talbott would have selected would then qualify for the Sporting Group competition held on the green carpet at Madison Square Garden.
If you’ve ever watched a dog show on TV, you might be familiar with the basics of what judges do. Although dogs compete against each other, they really do compete with the breed standard.
“Each breed has its own standard,” said Talbott. “AKC has approved standards for each breed; the judge selects the dog he considers best based on the standard of that breed.
For example, with a golden retriever, Talbott will feel the angles of the shoulder, the amount of rib he has, and the feel of his coat. She also monitors the dog’s movement.
“This is not an obedience contest; no matter how well they behave, ”she said. “What I watch when they move is how their legs work, are they moving in balance? Looks like they could do this all day in the field looking for birds? “
Talbott also assesses a dog’s temperament.
“Golden retrievers, it says in the very first paragraph that they have to be impatient, alert and sure of themselves,” Talbott said. “And so you want a golden retriever who’s smiling and confident and who wants to be there.”
Other breeds such as Afghan Hounds can be aloof as it suits the breed.
For the Sporting Group, Talbott determines how well the dogs look like they can do their jobs.
Talbott first entered the dog show world as a golden retriever owner. Her first champion was born in 1979. She also bred dogs. After about 20 years, Talbott tried her hand at judgment. She had experience judging sheep and goats since she was a member of 4-H in middle and high school.
“And so judging the dogs was a pretty natural thing,” said Talbott. “And I love studying standards.”
Talbott has four dogs. She has a four-year-old Black Labrador Retriever from Rock; Hudson, 10-year-old pug; Splash, a 13-year-old golden retriever; and Echo, a 12 year old Golden Retriever.
Talbott is working to complete all races in the sports group so that she can judge the group.