In 1983, Richard Powell was at his very first dog show at the Westminster Kennel Club with the first Terrier he had ever bred.
âNow it’s different because it’s limited to champions only,â he said. “At that time, when I showed this dog … It was his first weekend, and he won everything every day.”
Now, Powell, a Palmyra resident, will be a judge for the 146th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City in January.
Powell will judge the Terrier Group. The winner of this group will go to the Best in Show competition.
âYou really want to win there and you really want to judge there, and being invited is very, very special,â he said.
This will be Powell’s second judge assignment for the dog show. It was his first time judging races at the show, but it will be his first judgment on national television.
âIt’s very exciting and it’s a great honor, but on the other hand there is a lot of responsibility because everyone is watching you,â he said.
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Involved with purebred dogs for most of his life, Powell began herding English Setters in his native England.
âWhen I was very, very little my grandfather in England was a game warden,â Powell said. “He bred English Springers and Labradors, and I can’t imagine a time when I had free time that I wasn’t with him with the dogs.”
Eager to exhibit and breed terriers, he began working for top trainers in California before embarking on his career as a terrier manager. He and his wife Sue moved east and bought a kennel and a small farm in Pennsylvania.
Judging competitions was a natural progression for Powell.
âWhen the kennel club asked a few people, would we consider judging as they lacked Terrier judges,â he said. “It was an opportunity that was just too good to miss.”
Powell has judged several national specialties, including many national terrier specialties and overseas missions to England, Europe and South America. Show officials said Powell was licensed to judge the Terrier, Sporting and Toy groups, several Working and Hound breeds and Best in Show.
“I have never regretted it,” he said. “I appreciated the judgment more than anything.”
Powell said the best thing for people who want to become professional managers and breeders is to work with other professionals. Some dog handlers work with multiple groups, which is a great way for those looking to become professional dog handlers to learn about many different breeds.
âFor someone who wants to do this as a profession, you have to learn it from someone who is already successful,â he said. “If you just want to show off your own dogs, it’s totally different … but it’s still good to find a mentor in your breed.”
Powell added that anyone involved with dogs will help those who wish to learn.
The show is slated to return to New York in 2022, after taking place outdoors at the Lyndhurst Estate in Tarrytown, New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A calendar of events for the dog show can be found on the kennel club‘s website.
Matthew Toth is a reporter for the Lebanon Daily News. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DAMattToth.