MONTICELLO — Beverly Capstick is known for her calm demeanor
and no-nonsense attitude when it comes to judging dog shows.
It may not be what dog show handlers want to hear, but she prides
herself on having a good eye and being honest.
Now Capstick will receive one of the biggest honors in the dog
show world: She will judge at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
in New York City next month.
The retired art teacher will join more than 30 judges Feb. 11-12.
She is the second judge from Minnesota in the dog show's 132-year
history, and the only one this year, according to Capstick, who has
judged dog shows for almost three decades.
Westminster is "the greatest dog show in the world. Everyone
wants to be there," said David Frei, the show's director of
The nation's top 2,627 dogs will vie for the title of Best in
Show. Minnesota has 25 entries, according to the club.
Most dream of an invitation to judge. Westminster officials
choose judges based on reputation, Frei said.
"We feel we are getting the elite judges," Frei said.
"We like to have someone with a good eye — and
That's exactly what Capstick has, said Sandy Donnay, a friend and
a member of the Granite City Kennel Club of St. Cloud, where
Capstick has judged and worked dog shows.
"She's one of the driving forces of dog shows in
Minnesota," Donnay said. "She's one of those judges who
does what she believes in."
In the details
Capstick believes in understanding every aspect of a dog breed.
At Westminster, she will judge 134 dogs, including St. Bernards,
Siberian huskies and Neapolitan mastiffs.
Judges must undergo intensive training to become certified. They
must master individual breed standards, complete observations in the
show ring and be mentored by experts on specific breeds.
It takes years to become certified, Capstick said, and then the
certification is applicable to only some breeds and disciplines.
She is certified to judge several breeds, breed groups such as
working and herding, junior showmanship and Best in Show. She would
like to become certified in more toy breeds, she said.
Capstick studies breeds at home and attends seminars around the
country when she's not judging.
That kind of dedication makes her stand out among judges, said
John Sheehan, an American Kennel Club delegate from Long Lake.
"Beverly has really gone after it," he said. "She
knows a lot of breeds. She studies them, and what she doesn't know
she finds out."
Capstick has bred Manchester terriers, Doberman pinschers, boxers
and Shetland sheepdogs throughout the years.
She has a particular fondness for Dobermans and Manchester
terriers. Capstick entered her first dog show with a boxer in 1961.
She turned her attention to Dobermans two years later, drawn to
the breed's sleek shape, muscle, agility and intensity.
"I saw a Doberman in a show, and I fell in love with
it," she said. "They can be protective, but they can have
She stopped showing her pets after she started judging.
Visitors to Capstick's home are immediately greeted by barking
dogs. Mikki, a Manchester terrier, is Capstick's constant companion,
and often can be found in his owner's lap.
Her Dobermans, Tigresa and Suka, bound into the room and try to
climb on her lap, but she uses a low voice and a secret weapon —
dried-out marshmallows — to make them obey.
That firm and quiet demeanor helps Capstick succeed in the ring.
"I don't play games, and I have a gentle hand,"
On the road
Capstick's reputation keeps her in demand. She's judged in almost
every state and in places such as Africa, Argentina, New Zealand and
She will judge most weekends this year, having booked 43 shows,
and she won't have a free weekend between March and July, Capstick
She even has shows scheduled into 2011.
New judges are usually expected to pay for travel, food and
lodging expenses. Shows pay as little as $3 for each dog judged,
The financial and time constraints are well worth it though, she
"You meet people from around the world and with different
occupations," Capstick said.
"I don't think there's another sport where people are
judging from their early 30s to 90 years old."
Animals dominate almost every aspect of Capstick's life. She is
active in several kennel clubs throughout the area.
In her free time, Capstick and a friend create copper portraits
Dog lovers from across the United States and in 15 countries own
her work, according to her Web site.
But spending time with her beloved pets may be Capstick's
Mikki, Tigresa and Suka desperately wanted to run outside on a
cold January morning. Within minutes, Mikki whined to be let in. The
others chased after each other in graceful strides.
Capstick admired them from a window.
They are beautiful, she said.