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Westminster Dog Show 2022. Live Updates: Trial Continues in Group Finals

Donald Sturz, this year’s Best in Show judge, spent the last few days locked in his hotel room, isolating himself from any news about which dog has won which award in the competition so far.

“There is no Facebook, there is nothing,” Sturz, 60, said by phone. “I stay away from social media. I posted a picture of myself and my husband at the judge’s dinner on Sunday night, and then I fell silent on the radio.

The idea, as he said, is that when he enters the ring tonight, he will be free from prejudice.

“Part of the dream of this judge’s task is to go out on the floor and have no idea who those seven dogs are entering,” Sturz said.

The best in show judging requires skills that are both special and unusual. Dogs do not compete against each other by themselves, but are judged according to how closely they adhere to a certain set of breed standards, as determined by the American Kennel Club.

“It comes down to the dog that possesses the most virtues as described for their breed,” Sturz said. “They also have to convey the essence of their race in posture, character and wearing.

With 209 different types of dogs competing in shows, Sturz must be closely acquainted with the breed standards of all of them. That is why he learned, mostly by looking at endless pictures of dogs in books and magazines and on the Internet, to fix in his head the pattern of each race, a kind of Platonic ideal.

Ordinary people who watch dog shows often cheer for their favorite dogs – striking golden retrievers, for example, elegant Afghan dogs or stupid sheepdogs – not realizing that these qualities do not necessarily count as winning virtues in the eyes of the judge.

“There are some races that fit into the atmosphere of the show,” Sturz said. “They are more active, brighter, more modern and more present. But what we are looking for is what race needs to convey. Some breeds are supposed to be more reserved, calmer and regal, and that says as much as a dog that wags its tail and jumps up and down. ”

In real life, Sturz is the headmaster of the school district of Valley Stream 24 on Long Island. But he is also a lifelong dog enthusiast who has attended dog shows for 50 years and has judged 32 of them, including Westminster. This is the first time that he will present the Best in Show award.

When he spoke, Sturz did not yet know that one of the dogs in the final would be a French Bulldog – and therefore a personal favorite, given that he has one, named Emmett, at home. (He also has a bull terrier, Lola.)

But he promised that, no matter what he faces, he will judge as a neutral observer, without fear or favoritism.

“Dogs are works of art,” he said. “I love all races.”

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