ASTC 2018 National Judge Ms. Wendy Paquette Comments

It was indeed an honor to be selected again to judge my third American Shih Tzu Club National Specialty this year in 2018. I thoroughly enjoyed this assignment and want to say thank you for your hospitality.

This year made history as the first time a mother and daughter team judged the National. My Daughter Jody Garcini-Paquette judged the Sweepstakes. I was very proud and thank you for allowing us to be the first!

It is unfortunate that our entries have decreased over the last 10 years or more and there are several factors that contribute to the declining numbers. However this seems to be a trend with many recognized breeds. Issues with airlines, rising costs, extensive work and grooming along with the declining number of new, younger breeders coming into our breed are all factors. It is up to us to find the answers to keep the love for our breed growing throughout the world.

I am very pleased to say though that after attending the National for the last 45 years with only an occasional miss, I was pleased to note that I did not recognize almost half the entry. This is a good sign that maybe our breed will start to flourish again. I found this National to be very laid back and fun and would like to congratulate the committee’s efforts to make the whole event ‘fun and festive’.

However this leads me to my other train of thought which is….. Are we doing enough? Are we mentoring these new upcoming breeders? Are we offering enough advice and guidance? Or are we giving the impression that our doors are closed and want to protect our knowledge and experience?

A lot of new breeders these days are hungry for information and mentoring. We as established breeders and experts in the breed need to open ourselves up to helping them and giving them the information they need to keep our breed alive and to maintain the standards that we all love, breed by and stand by.

In my comments at the Awards Banquet I promoted a new concept we may all want to adopt.

Sharing Is Caring
There is a great quote from the Dalai Lama. “Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.”

This concept is so important in life. As breeders and lovers of Shih Tzu it is time for us all to “Pay it forward.” If we had not been given the opportunities as young breeders to learn and prove ourselves many years ago how many of us would be in this breed today? I thank those people who mentored me and took a chance on me many years ago. We were not born and bred into the wonderful world of dogs. Someone is responsible for that spark that got each one of us here today.

My advice is to open your doors. Let some new people in to learn all they can about our wonderful breed. Sure there will be disappointments along the way but you can hold your head high and say to yourself, “I did my best.” Some of the new blood will make you exceptionally proud when they become successful. Some will even beat you in the ring and I say, “Good for them,” as that means you taught them well. We all learn from winning and losing and it reminds us to stay on top of our game.

Looking back at my 45+ years of breeding I can feel good about my accomplishments in this beautiful, loving breed and hope that it is in the hands of some great upcoming new stars. I feel that my hard work is being left in the right hands and I had a part in putting many of them on the right path with great bloodlines and mentoring. We as breeders need to share our pedigrees with other breeders in order for the breed and healthy standards to continue and yes even to improve. This is how we will achieve our immortality and legacy.

Closing Comments
Reflecting on the dogs from this year’s National as well as judging around the world, I am pleased that I am seeing great temperaments. Our coats are beautiful and the textures have improved. Grooming and topknots are less extreme and I am glad to see some very promising puppies in the ring. The males at the National this year were better than the girls and that is not the norm for our breed. But that is good as they are our future stud dogs. There were lots of new people this year and we need them. The atmosphere this year was phenomenal and I wish I could have participated more. It sounds like I missed some fun times and I want to be a part of the fellowship. There is always next year!

I do have some additional concerns that I would like to share. Our head size still needs improvement as well as I am noticing smaller eyes. I am sometimes referred to as the “tooth fairy” but the lack of canines is a huge concern for me. I know the standard says “missing teeth allowed” but I think we should all interpret that as missing incisors and not canines. A correct bite is so important to the correct broad square muzzle and is a major component of a correct head and expression. This is something to which we need to pay closer attention. Tail sets are improving but there is still some room for improvement.

In closing I must say dedication to the preservation of our breed is important and to me, more so than just collecting ribbons or titles. Watching the new people you mentor flourish, can only mean that we as breeders and as those with the experience and knowledge, are doing our job for the preservation of our wonderful breed. I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the National next year or in a ring near you.

Breeder Judge