by Sally Wallis,
Zande Basenjis

First published in Basenji Owners and Breeders Magazine - April 1987

- subject to agreement by a panel of Judges if enough can be found to be sober at the appropriate time.

GENERAL APPEARANCE : 'The Exhibitor' (hereinafter called 'the Handler') is easily recognised. Gender is unimportant but he (or she) must be attached via a lead of some kind, to a canine. Spectators should be left in no doubt as to which is which. The handler, regarded as the lower form of life, should on no account assume the four-legged stance acceptable in the higher species.

CHARACTERISTICS : It is recognised, although not necessarily desirable, that the handler will be less well groomed than the exhibit. A certain disarray in the dress, the impression of hurry, even of panic, is acceptable.

TEMPERAMENT : If abbreviated (TEMPER) must be controlled. An outward appearance of loving everyone and everything, of forgiveness, of sincerity and of acceptance should be evinced. Exhibitors should remember that it is only one idiot's opinion anyway, and that their turn will come. (see Judges' Standard)

HEAD AND SKULL : A high degree of pig-headedness is essential. It is also required that handlers have hard skulls, although thick-headedness can be a disadvantage. Handlers should seek to achieve a fine balance.

EYES : The eyes should be firmly fixed on the judge at all times. Those with mesmeric abilities should endeavour to curb, or control, any tendency to gain unfair advantage in this particular way.

EARS : Ears should be pricked and alert at all times to the noises emanating from the Judge. A filter must be installed, and all sounds passed through it before onward transmission in the bar-tent.

MOUTH : Mouths should be firmly closed except when expressing pleasure at receiving long expected CC or other award. Messages received through the ear-filter MAY be transmitted provided they serve some useful purpose - namely the amusement and/or consolation of other handlers.

NECK : It is recognised that neck is often required. The expression 'to have neck enough...' is understood amongst exhibitors.

FOREQUARTERS : The most essential part of the forequarters is the elbow. This should be flexible, and capable of enabling the hand to convey containers of liquid to the vicinity of the mouth. The hand must be able to reach the contents of the pocket or hand-bag, and the fingers should be able to locate and extract paper of a certain design, crackle and colour.

BODY : The shape of the body is immaterial. It should be functional. That is to say, able to separate the feet from the head. It may follow any number of curves and contours, which may, in turn, be followed by the eyes of the Judge. It should be remembered, however, that this is not the prime object of the exercise.

HINDQUARTERS : It is required that the hindquarters be vested with some form of pocket or container for liver. This receptacle may be slung from the hips, hidden around the waist, or otherwise draped around the person of the handler. It should be changed, or washed regularly. The need for flexibility should be remembered, but under no circumstances should too much be revealed to a) the Judge, b) other handlers, or c) the audience, on occasions when bending is essential. Creaking knee joints will not, however, be penalised. Judges are not expected to pat handlers on the rump - thus this area need not be too prominent.

FEET : The feet may be of any size and should be suitably shod to stumble over the main opposition. It is desirable that any such 'accident' actually appear as such, and not as a deliberate attempt to trip other handlers or their exhibits. Stepping on exhibits, even ones own, is to be avoided.

TAIL : A tail is not considered to be the crowning glory of the handler. Any attempt to emulate the exhibit is suspect.

GAIT/MOVEMENT : It should be remembered that the exhibit at the lower end of the lead is the important one. Contrary to popular practice, the actual movement of the animal attached at the upper end is immaterial and can be disregarded UNLESS the judge suspects attention is deliberately being drawn towards the unusual, or inhuman, movement of the handler in order to hide a defect elsewhere.

COAT : The coat, or outer coating, must be suitable for the occasion, and may depend on gender of handler and judge. It may be partially revealing worn by a female handler hoping to impress (or hide canine faults from) a male judge. A suitably decorous coat should be worn by females exhibiting before females. Male handlers may be positively snazzily clad to catch the eye of female judges. Shedding in the ring may be desired but is to be discouraged.

COLOUR : Too deep a tan can lead other exhibitors to a feeling of jealousy. This may have nothing to do with dogdom, but merely display a desire for the sunshine. Too great a depth of pure red must be suspect - handlers should never show embarrassment.

SIZE AND WEIGHT : Whenever possible the handler should be larger than the exhibit. It is admitted that this is not always feasible but it should be clear at all times who is handling whom. Too great an adverse ratio of size and weight - handler to exhibit - could be misleading.

FAULTS : Since conformation and detail are of little importance, the greatest faults are mainly of a behavioural nature. Winning too often, whilst not a fault, is something not to be maximised via the mouth of the lucky handler. Flexing the fingers around currency is serious actually in the ring but forgivable in the bar. Arriving late in the ring MAY be forgiven under some circumstances, but should not follow disappearance behind trees, nor be accompanied by loud references to Championship Steaks (Stakes). Mishandling, maltreating, kicking or biting the Steward may be warranted, but should not take place in the ring. One-upmanship is expected, but since it can render the handler an object of ridicule and laughter, it is recommended that it be used with moderation, caution and courtesy.

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Sally & Marvin Wallis
Zande Basenjis
Email : zandebasenjis@btopenworld.com