Interview With Lew Bunch

  The following is an attempt to improve communication between the judges of our breed, and the people who show under them.  

1.) Are you an active breeder of German Shepherd Dogs? Do you have a kennel name ?  

Yes....Carousel Farms
2.) How long have you been in the breed? When and how did you get started? Are you affiliated with any clubs?  
Attended a Puppy Day sponsored by the German Shepherd Dog Club of Kansas City. This event was held at the Plaza surrounded by beautiful fountains and was attended by most of the Kansas City Club and many spectators. There were probably 200 people there, many Champions, one of the F Litter Arbywood, CH Ferd owned by LaVerna Rubnitz.
German Shepherd Dog Club of America and currently serving as President of the German Shepherd Dog Club of Greater Kansas City 
3.) How long have you been judging the breed?  
Since 1978.
4.) How many times a year do you judge German Shepherds?  
Varies year to year, probably a good average is 3
5.) Over the last 2 years has the number of shows?  
Does this refer to the number of shows I judge? If so, the number has remained about the same each year.
6.) Have you ever judged the National Specialty? If yes, when and what classes ?  
NO.....Darn it!
7.) Do you judge at both all-breeds and specialties, which do you prefer ?  
What a question, we could write a book. I prefer judging Specialties because they are more relaxed, everyone seems to have a better time, and the opportunity to meet new people, offer education, and judge very good quality dogs is more prevalent than at All-Breeds.
Why? Because usually an All-Breed has a very small ring providing no real opportunity to work the dogs. However, I have judged some All-Breed Shows that were outdoors, had large rings, and there were some very good dogs shown.
An All-Breed Show is always on a very tight schedule, no room to take too long with the show photographer, etc. Which sometimes makes it seem that everyone is always in a hurry just to get to the next breed.
8.) Do you have a color preference?  
No, not when judging. The pigment must be strong, no matter what the color. Re: solid blacks: A balanced moving animal is easy to see no matter what the color. However, if it were night and there were no lights, a solid black would be harder to find...
9.) What importance do you place on condition of plush versus smooth coat? Please explain.  
Really not important when judging the overall animal presented. True a plush coat may look more striking when posed but the coat is not a big factor to me when placing a class.
10.) When judging the dog do you also judge the handler? Please elaborate if possible.  
No, but wouldn't it be fun if we did judge the handler.
Think about this.... dog #106 is first; his handler is fifth, etc. I'm sorry but I am going to excuse the handler on dog #16 or not giving me a loose lead, can someone come into the ring to handle this dog. Before all the handlers riot just remember that we are all out for having fun, showing good dogs, and earning the right to brag.
I'll still just keep judging the dogs and not the handlers unless it is Junior Showmanship. Wait a minute, let's start a Veteran Junior Showmanship Class........
11.) What importance do you place on missing teeth?  
Depends on the tooth that is missing. A button or pre-molar is not as important as a missing #4 molar or canine. If a dog has a missing tooth and is totally equal to the dog behind him, then the missing tooth would have to be penalized. If it is a superior dog with a missing pre-molar then he should win. 
12.) How do you see bites today?  
Overall bites are pretty good, you sometimes see a level bite and you must penalize the dog.
13.) How do you see strength of ears?  
Ears are improving, not too many close set ears anymore. Let's face it, bad ears totally detract from the overall picture a dog presents.
14.) Do you feel the GSD's temperament has improved over the past 5 years?  
Yes, temperament has improved because all judges can recognize bad temperament and will penalize and excuse the dog.
15.) Do you consider temperament today to be? Please explain.  
Good and getting better for the reason given in question #14.
16.) Do you prefer a dog to be shown on a loose lead?  
Yes, much nicer to watch a dog carry themselves instead of being altered via the lead.
17.) How would you rate the following in sequence of importance? (On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest).  
I am assuming that since there 10 items, you want me to rate them 1-10 as I evaluate a dog so here goes. 10 is most important 
Coming and going  8 
Side Gait  9  
Temperament  10 
Teeth  5 
Coat  3 
Pasterns, hocks, feet  7 
Pigment  6 
Structure  9 
Shoulder and reach  9 
Attitude  4
Guess I didn't quite make all 10 did I? First of all I feel that Side Gait, Structure, Shoulder and Reach are all equally important. Without proper structure, you don't get proper sidegait. Without proper sidegait, you don't get proper should and reach and you should also include rear opening and reach. 
18.) Could you briefly describe your ring procedure, and any changes you may incorporate between a small Vs large class  
I like to bring the entire class into the ring and let them make one lap around. Then I go say hello to each animal, give them a pat and look them over. I prefer to work six dogs at a time but if the class is eight, I will split them into two groups of four. The reason is that I like to give each and every dog in the class a shot at leading the class. You don't have to work them to death but I do like to watch them work. After each dog in the group has had their turn in front I will then start with the individual exams, each dog must approach me on a loose lead, stand their ground and make eye contact. Coming and going is then checked. The whole group is worked and placed, then we go to the next group. After all the groups have been worked and placed I will then combine and place the groups according to my evaluation and will keep at least six dogs for the final evaluation. The remaining dogs in the class with be released from any further judging. I will then work my final group as a group, then maybe one at a time and usually will once again give the final competitors one pass in front of the line. Then we will place the class.
Always remember, if it is a small class or a large class, good quality or poor quality; every animal deserves your total concentration and evaluation. 
19.) Do you think there should be an age limit in placing points on a dog (i.e. dogs and bitches under 12 months of age)?  
No, you should judge the Winners Class as the separate class it is and may the best dog win regardless of age.
20.) If a dog is not exactly to the standard in size, would you prefer slightly larger or smaller?  
I think you can always find a dog that fits the Standard, you should not put up dogs that are outside our Standard.
21.) Do you think on average German Shepherd Dogs are too extreme?  
Not really. Some are over angulated have loose ligaments and move like an eggbeater, but these should never be the winners.
22.) In your opinion should double handling be allowed?  
I would really like to put the double handling issue to bed. Either make it against the rules or allow it. Excessive double handling, running into people and trees should always be stopped but what is wrong with a squeaky toy, a ball, or an owner getting their dogs attention? AKC has rules against foreign substances yet they do not enforce chalk, dye, etc. Double handing is not to be allowed but there is no real rule against it.
23.) Should all select dogs, in your opinion, be OFA (H&E)?  
In an ideal world all select animals, all top obedience, herding agility dogs and bitches have OFA Hips and Elbows. And when breeding to these certified animals there is no chance of bad hips and elbows. However, this isn't an ideal world and there is really no foolproof method to require certification of animals being judged. Is the Ring Steward going to stop me judging and tell me I cannot put up this certain animal because they don't have an OFA Number----I think NOT. I really don't know the ideal solution to make this happen. First of all you must have permanent identification on all animals when x-rays are taken. DNA is a good method. However, once you send films that you and your Vet consider to be really good and then you get a DJD without any explanation, then I question the Select requirement. OFA is currently a great tool but sometimes a tool has flaws. I also personally dislike OFA Excellent, Good, Fair...what was the matter with the old method, Normal, Near Normal, Dysplastic. We now seem to be competing for an OFA Excellent.... my dog is better than yours because yours is only OFA Fair. Like I said, I would like to see all winners at our National have OFA Numbers, I just don't see a foolproof method for making this happen.... yet.
24.) When making the final selection, does the dog with the most front reach usually win the class?  
The balanced dog that moves with ease while covering a great amount of ground will always win and yes this is also usually the dog that extends in front with an opening of the should and rear.
25.) Do you feel more emphasis should be put on the total package, and less on movement?  
To me the total package includes movement and yes emphasis is always placed on the total package.
26.) Do you think the German Shepherd Dog standard should be changed?  
27.) Do you think there should be any changes in any of the existing rules concerning dog shows? If so, please elaborate  
Once again, put the double handling issue to bed. Either make a firm rule against it or allow it.
28.) Is there a dog, whether alive now or not, who to you typifies most closely the "ideal" German Shepherd Dog ? If yes, please explain and give details  
Yes, Am and Can Sel CH Lynrik's Kristal - true poetry in motion, totally sound, could do it all on a loose lead. In fact when she went GV under Connie Beckhardt, Leslie dropped her lead and Kristal made an entire pass by herself. Look at the AKC Standard Video, you will see Kristal and this alone is worth the price of this very educational video.
29.) Do you feel that in general the quality of the breed in this country is getting better or worse ? Please elaborate  
We are getting better because people are getting into more activities with the same animal. Remember we all started showing in both Conformation and Obedience WITH the same animal. Today, we are doing Herding, Agility, Flyball, Obedience, and Conformation. This is building a better all around animal and we are seeing those results at all shows.
30.) Do you have a pet peeve about anything owners or handlers do concerning the showing of dogs ?  
Yes, I cannot believe some of the ungroomed dogs that enter the show ring. How long does it take to give a dog a bath, trim their nails, and run a brush through their coat. A stinky, unkempt animal is not even fun to pet.
31.) Do you have any suggestions for owners or handlers regarding anything they should ALWAYS do when showing under you ?  
Just listen and follow my instructions. When I ask for a loose lead, give it to me. I tell the handler that I want a loose lead at least part of the ring during their individual exam and I expect them to do it. In fact we will keep it up until they get it right. Same thing with speed, if I say slow, I mean it and when I tell them they can go at their own speed they can do that too.
32.) Do you have any suggestions for owners or handlers regarding anything they should NEVER do when showing under you ?  
Don't EVER mistreat your animal, really upsets me. No animal is perfect and without training they won't work properly, don't take it out on the dog or the owner...blame yourself and then correct it.
33.) Do you have any advice for people who are relatively new to showing and/or breeding?  
Join the local German Shepherd Dog Club and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America. Attend many shows and matches and watch the people who own and show dogs that are appealing to you. Then meet these people and your education starts. Treat them as your mentor, everyone had someone who helped them. I have made many statements about Tom and Phoebe Ballard, they really are my second set of parents. When I wanted to start judging I attended a GSDCA Judge's Seminar (One of the first held.) with the best teacher in the world, Connie Beckhardt. I have never varied my procedure from what Connie taught.
34.) Is there anything else you would like to say about judging or about the German Shepherd breed today ? If so, please feel free to say it here  
It is a privilege, honor, and a whole lot of fun to be involved and judge German Shepherd Dogs. I always tell people there is not a major airport in the US that if I was stranded I could not call someone for dinner, drinks, and maybe even a place to spend the night. Why?, because we all share this great hobby and we have made many, many friends through our love of the German Shepherd Dog.
35.) Have you ever judged one the of the greats? If so, can you give a rundown of this dog for the people who have not had the privilege to even see it.  
It has been my privilege to judge several. I have already mentioned GV CH Lynrick's Kristal but I want to tell you a story about the first time I saw her. I was judging the Mobile GSDC and it was during the lunch break between dogs and bitches. Over 100 yards away someone was working a dog. You couldn't identify the handler or the dog (too far away) but you could see this outline and it was perfection in motion. Someone walked up to talk about the dog judging and asked me what I thought an ideal German Shepherd should look like. I pointed towards this animal over 100 yards away and said, "like that". We started judging bitches and the quality was just unbelievable. My American Bred Bitch Class contained seven bitches that would finish, three would go Select. Then came Open Bitches and in walked Kristal...she went Winners Bitch (which finished her Championship), Best of Winners, and Best of Breed over Select Dogs. You guessed it, she was that animal I saw over 100 yards away, she was breathtaking.
We also must mention Select CH Stuttgart's Sundance Kid ROM who I had the honor of awarding him a major at 13 months of age. Bear was a total dog, all male, very balanced and who was to know that he would also become the All Time ROM.
I also had the honor of finishing CH Stonecroft's Josie ROM and when Josie was bred to Bear they produce what I feel is the all time breeding click.....producing many Champions who are now producing equally as well themselves, many Selects and ROMs.
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