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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Judge's Gifts - Necessary or Nice?

I was recently at a table where an AKC Agility Judge announced that they would never return to judge for a club if they didn't receive a judge's gift to thank them for their services. Another judge at the table had the opposite opinion and felt their fee was more than sufficient.

It has been my experience that judges, exhibitors and clubs each have a pretty clear opinion on the topic.

I've noticed that those who come from Conformation generally believe a judges gift is tradition and a must. On the flip side some clubs such as the Board of the Puget Sound Labrador Retriever Club firmly believe that agility judges make enough in payment and they won't authorize a judge's gift (except for club merchandise).

While I don't agree with PSLRA's reasoning, my personal belief is that a gift for judging isn't a requirement. But I will admit that it is a NICE surprise and has never failed to put a smile on my face! Ironic since the last sentence in Wikipedia's definition of Gift is "By extension the term gift can refer to anything that makes the other happier...especially as a favor, including...kindness."

I have to admit, I have all of the gifts I've received over the years. For my very first assignment, they gave me a beautiful handmade wood clock with a hand painted picture of a Dalmatian - I love that gift and it has sat prominently in the living room of every house I've lived in.

There are many treasured gifts throughout my house and the cost of the item isn't what makes a gift great.

For example, a club that Dan was judging for contacted me to get pictures of his dogs. Their timing was great because we had just received professional photos back of Burton. The club used the picture to create a personalized coffee mug which Dan uses every day (and I'm not allowed to touch ). The thoughtfulness of a gift is what makes it so special.

So, I'm curious...what do most people think?



  1. I'm not a judge but am the chairperson for an upcoming trial and would like to know the results to pass on to the person in charge of selecting gifts. SnoKing does give gifts but would like some inspiration about what to give.

  2. Our club always gives a clean run gift certificate to the judges. But the other things you listed here are really neat. What a great idea. I know the judges get paid but everyone likes to know they are appreciated. The judges this weekend stood out in full sun and in 90 degree heat. I dont know how they did it. Diana

  3. I certainly do not expect a gift, but do appreciate the thoughtfulness. My all time favorite was also my first ever trial that I judged. The club had asked me what breed I had. I received a gift basket in my motel room that had a bottle of wine, crackers, cheese, chocolates and two beautiful hand painted wine glasses, one with a German Shorthaired Pointer coming down an A-frame, and one with him coming out of a tunnel. Another gift I've loved were pads for times/yardages with a picture of my boy weaving. I've received some other very nice gifts too, and they've always made me smile, but they certainly are not expected or required!!
    Debbie Mosher

  4. As a trial chair, I always try to have something extra for the judges. While we are paying them a fee some judges may have to use part of that to off set their expenses such as dog care (boarding or sitting) if they have to travel. I think it is also just a nice way of saying "thank you" for putting up with all the garbage that can happen at trials like....hearings! LOL.

    We no longer tend to give big things as gifts opting the gift card route. This is because one year I gave the judge a huge candle and candle holder not thinking about how she was going to get the damn thing home. As I dropped her off at the airport I watched her fumble and balance the stupid thing all the way into the terminal. I assume it made it home in one piece, I was too chicken ever to ask.