Mr Michael Leonard (Ireland)
Michael has been involved with show dogs for the past 36 years, having grown up with gundogs on the family farm.
From 1977, he began showing Old English sheepdogs and Cavaliers with Michael Forte. Under kennel prefix, ‘Leonfort’, the pair quickly became known for Cavaliers and won Best of Breed with a ten-month-old puppy at its first St Patrick’s Day Show (The Irish Crufts) in 1980. Leonfort then went on to win the top stud dog 6 years in a row.
Michael was a committee member of The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club of Ireland between 1980 and 1990 and helped to establish the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Ireland in 1979. Michael was also secretary of the Old English Sheepdog Club of Ireland and the Irish Kennel Club representative.
Under Irish Kennel Club rules, he is a qualified all Breeds judge, and has judged the Best in Show across the world, including Ireland, Denmark, Italy, France, Norway, Japan, Columbia, Malaysia, Sweden, South Africa, Hong Kong, Philippines, Thailand, Canada and China.
Michael has also been a breed specialty judge for Old English Sheepdogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Japanese Spitz, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Tibetan Spaniels.
Most recently in 2018, he was one of three judges of The National Dog Show in America, and in 2017 was invited to judge the Champion of Champions in Estonia.
Ms Lois Wilson (South Africa)
Lois was born into a dog owning family in Zimbabwe, and grew up with Airedales, Cocker Spaniels, and English Setters her parents imported from the UK.
After moving to Rhodesia whilst still young, she entered the dog show scene and helped many owners handle their dogs, which sparked her interest in different breeds.
Lois then moved to Amanzimtoti in South Africa and was given a German Shepherd, and in 1988, acquired her first Siberian Husky.
Since then, she established her kennel, ‘SIBRA’ and her first homebred litter of Siberians produced four Champions. Following this, Lois also acquired a Border Collie, who went on to be a Breed Champion and qualified in Sheep Herding.
In 1992, Lois visited America, where she fell in love with the Japanese Shiba Inu. Depsite small numbers of the breed in South Africa, her kennel became a top-quality breeder in the country.
Her first judging appointment was in 1976 and after moving to South Africa, worked her way through the Kennel Union of Southern Africa’s (KUSA) Breed Judges Qualifying Scheme. She has also passed the UK Kennel Club’s Confirmation Exam and approved to judge All Breeds and Best in Show at Championship Show level. As a Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) All Breeds Judge, she has judged throughout the world including World Dog Shows.
Both her children have been involved with Junior Handling, which has taken her to numerous dog shows around the world, including Crufts, where she has extended her knowledge of different breeds and has marvelled at the quality of dogs on show.
Currently, Lois chairs the Exco of the KUSA and has been a Federal Councilor, for nearly 10 years. She also judges Obedience, Flyball and Carting.
Mr John Comerford (New South Wales)
John started judging in 1990 and attained all breeds status in 2015. Throughout his career, he has judged at specialty shows for Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Bassets, Schipperkes, Corgis, Shetland Sheepdogs, Bearded Collies, Border Collies, Australian Cattle Dogs and Australian Working Dogs.
Having judged in all states and territories in Australia, John has gone on to judge in New Zealand (both islands) as well as some prestigious shows in Japan, France, South Africa, Russia, Thailand and China.
His career highlight was judging Irish Wolfhound bitches at the 2011 World Dog Show in Paris, where his winner went on to win Best In Group.
John is a current Committee Member of the Dogs NSW Conformation Judges Training Committee and has been on several committees for Dogs NSW including Judges’ Training, Education, Constitutional Review, Ground Committee and Judiciary Panel. He is also a current senior ring steward at the Sydney Royal.
Ms Wendy Baker (South Australia)
Wendy Baker began her passion for dog shows when she was 18, when she visited her mother to find that she had recently whelped a litter of Long-Haired Dachshunds. She immediately fell in love with the only black and tan in the litter, which became her first show dog and gained his first Australian title at only 18 months of age, with many in group and in show awards along the way.
She then went on to show all 6 varieties of Dachshunds before discovering Griffon Bruxellois, which she has now owned and exhibited for over 30 years. Having shown at more than 100 all breeds best in show, she is the current world record holder for Best in Show wins for a rough coat.
With her husband she also had a very successful Dalmatian kennel, under the ‘Gemcourt’ prefix, and has shared their home with Wire Fox Terriers, Norfolk Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Afghan Hounds and Airedale Terriers, with most of these breeds also becoming Best in Show winners.
Over the years she has been involved with many other breeds across all groups, handling many to Group and In Show wins and has judged in many overseas countries, including Poland, Czech Republic, Bratislava, South Africa and New Zealand to name a few. In December 2017 Wendy became a licenced ANKC all breeds judge.
Mr Peter Hofto (Tasmania)
Agility & Games
Peter and his wife, Veronica, became ‘hooked’ on dog sports 20 years ago.
They participate in Agility and Jumping, Obedience, Tracking, Track and Search, and Conformation, and have been lucky to travel the country both competing and judging.
Peter has judged in every state and territory except the Northern Territory, including at a couple of Agility Nationals. Peter’s first trialling dog was Vern, a stunning Borderfame Border Collie. Vern was an all rounder - a double Grand Champion in the show ring (these days a Supreme Champion), winning multiple BIS awards; Tassie’s first Tracking Champion; Masters Agility and Jumping Dog; and competed in UD Obedience. He was a member of the infamous Tasmanian Team that won the 2007 Adelaide Agility Nationals Teams Event - a fete achieved by a ’Steven Bradbury-esk’ strategy in the days before the other states cottoned on to how the penalty system worked.
These days Vern lives on through his daughter Gidget and son Haggis, both bred from frozen semen. They have their father’s intelligence and drive, and Haggis has his fathers’s looks, winning Challenge Dog at the 2018 Melbourne Royal at less than two years old.
Peter knows the sport of Agility has changed significantly in the past few years, with the new training regimes and handling techniques “raising the bar” in agility competitions, adding excitement and professionalism to the sport.
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