New York, NY — Mr. Robert H. Slay of Cary, North Carolina has been given the most prestigious judging assignment in the sport of purebred dogs — deciding who will be the Best in Show winner at the 144th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. Mr. Slay brings extensive experience and dog knowledge to the sport. Anchoring Westminster Week this iconic annual dog show has been held continuously in New York City since 1877.
Mr. Slay grew up in Southeastern Mississippi where his family owned a working farm and he gained respect and appreciation for several types of hunting dogs. Although he has owned several different breeds, he loved, bred and handled champion German Shepherd Dogs for many years. In 1964, while stationed in Charleston, South Carolina as an ensign in the United States Navy, he purchased his first German Shepherd Dog. She easily achieved her American Kennel Club championship and Mr. Slay was forever hooked on the sport. He was married to the late Jane Vassar “Candye” Slay and has one son and two grandchildren.
Mr. Slay is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and the United States Naval Officers Candidate School. He served five years on active duty afterwards obtaining the rank of Commander in the Naval Reserves. In addition, he also attended the Yale University School of Executive Management Leadership Program. He has always been active in his community. Mr. Slay was elected to public office for three terms serving as chairman of one of the largest public-school systems in South Carolina. He chaired a United States Department of Energy Advisory Board for five years and served several years as the South Carolina State Chairman of the Morris Animal Foundation. He was also a member of the original steering committee for the AKC Museum of the Dog. In 1983, the North Carolina governor awarded his highest honor to Mr. Slay by inducting him into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society for service to his state and community.
Employed by the American Kennel Club for 18 years, Mr. Slay served as an Executive Field Representative and later as a Vice-President. While at the AKC he was responsible for the development and implementation of AKC's first DNA programs in support of registration and pedigrees. He retired from AKC in 2004 to resume his judging career. Mr. Slay has served as president and show chairman for several all-breed and specialty dog clubs. He was first approved to judge in 1979 and has judged extensively throughout the United States and overseas.
Mr. Slay judged the Westminster Herding Group in 2009 and the Working Group in 2018.This will be his eighth judging assignment at Westminster.
Seven Group Judges will select their picks for the Best in Show competition over two nights at Madison Square Garden.
On Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 the following judges will select the group winners to advance to the Best in Show competition. Ms. Marjorie Martorella of Millstone Township, New Jersey for the Hound Group; Mrs. Doris Cozart of Denton, Texas for the Toy Group; Mr. Allen L. Odom of Denver, Colorado for the Non-Sporting Group; and Mrs. Shirley D. Limoges of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for the Herding Group.
On Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 the following judges will select the remaining three group winners to advance to Best in Show. Ms. Theresa L. Hundt of Sandy Hook, Connecticut for the Sporting Group; Mr. Jay Richardson of Elgin, Illinois for the Working Group; and Mr. Norman B. Kenney of Cross Roads, Texas for the Terrier Group.
The Best Junior Handler award will be decided on Tuesday, Feb. 11 by Junior Showmanship Finals Judge Mrs. Valerie Nunes-Atkinson of Temecula, California. This will be the 87th year the finals will be held at Madison Square Garden. The eight junior showmanship finalists will be determined in preliminary rounds by judges Mrs. Sioux Forsyth-Green of Pinehurst, South Carolina and Mrs. Marianne “Tuni” Conti of Oxford, Connecticut.
The 7th Annual Masters Agility Championship at Westminster on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020 will be judged by Ms. Sue Barnett of Palm City, Florida and Ms. Lavonda L. Herring of LaGrangeville, New York. Mr. John D. Landis of Hellertown, Pennsylvania will officiate for the 5th Annual Masters Obedience Championship at Westminster.
All Westminster Week events are presented by Purina Pro Plan®.
Pending American Kennel Club approval, the judging panel for the Best of Breed or Variety competitions includes:
SPORTING BREEDS (33)
Mr. Kenneth E. Berg of Moraga, CA: Brittanys, German Wirehaired Pointers, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, Spinoni Italiani, Wirehaired Pointing Griffons.
Mr. Edd E. Bivin of Fort Worth, TX: English Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels.
Mr. Michael Faulkner of Center Cross, VA: Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes, American Water Spaniels, Boykin Spaniels, Clumber Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels (all Varieties), Field Spaniels, Irish Water Spaniels.
Mrs. Sioux Forsyth-Green of Pinehurst, NC: Pointers, German Shorthaired Pointers,
Ms. Sydney LeBlanc Good of Sarasota, FL: English Setters, Irish Setters, Vizslas, Weimaraners, Wirehaired Vizslas.
Mrs. Linda Hurlebaus of Palmetto, GA: Gordon Setters, Irish Red and White Setters, Sussex Spaniels, Welsh Springer Spaniels.
Mr. Sergio Scarpellini of Gazzaniga, Italy: Lagotti Romagnoli, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Curly-Coated Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers.
HOUND BREEDS (35)
Mrs. Gretchen Bernardi of Edwardsville, IL: Borzois, Greyhounds, Ibizan Hounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Salukis, Scottish Deerhounds.
Mr. Edmund Dziuk of Columbia, MO: Basenjis, Basset Hounds, Beagles (both Varieties), Dachshunds (all Varieties).
Ms. Sydney LeBlanc Good of Sarasota, FL: Whippets.
Mrs. Linda Hurlebaus of Palmetto, GA: Grand Basset Griffon Vendéens, Harriers, Norwegian Elkhounds, Otterhounds, Petit Basset Griffon Vendéens, Pharaoh Hounds, Portuguese Podengo Pequenos.
Dr. Eric Liebes of Peyton, CO: American English Coonhounds, American Foxhounds, Black and Tan Coonhounds, Bloodhounds, Bluetick Coonhounds, English Foxhounds, Plotts, Redbone Coonhounds, Sloughis, Treeing Walker Coonhounds.
Ms. Betty-Anne Stenmark of Grass Valley, CA: Afghan Hounds, Azawakhs, Cirnechi dell'Enta, Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
WORKING BREEDS (30)
Mrs. Eva E. Berg of Moraga, CA: Doberman Pinschers, Dogues de Bordeaux, German Pinschers, Great Danes, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs.
Mr. Edd E. Bivin of Fort Worth, TX: Boerboels, Bullmastiffs, Mastiffs, Rottweilers.
Mrs. Linda Hurlebaus of Palmetto, GA: Chinooks, Giant Schnauzers, Great Pyrenees, Newfoundlands, Tibetan Mastiffs.
Mr. Douglas A. Johnson of Bloomington, IN: Akitas, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Black Russian Terriers, Boxers, Komondorok, Kuvaszok, Neapolitan Mastiffs.
Dr. Eric Liebes of Peyton, CO: Alaskan Malamutes, Anatolian Shepherd Dogs, Cane Corsos.
Ms. Patti Widick Neale of Alachua, FL: Leonbergers, Portuguese Water Dogs, Saint Bernards, Samoyeds, Siberian Huskies, Standard Schnauzers.
TERRIER BREEDS (32)
Mr. Larry Adams of St. Louis, MO: Border Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Smooth Fox Terriers, Wire Fox Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Norfolk Terriers, Norwich Terriers, Scottish Terriers.
Mrs. Connie H. Clark of Rio Del Mar, CA: Glen of Imaal Terriers, Irish Terriers, Kerry Blue Terriers, Lakeland Terriers, Standard Manchester Terriers, Miniature Bull Terriers, Parson Russell Terriers.
Mr. John Constantine-Amodei of Jeffersonville, PA: Rat Terriers, Russell Terriers, Sealyham Terriers, Skye Terriers, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Welsh Terriers, West Highland White Terriers.
Ms. Betty-Anne Stenmark of Grass Valley, CA: Airedale Terriers, American Hairless Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Australian Terriers, Bedlington Terriers, Bull Terriers (both Varieties), Cesky Terriers, Dandie Dinmont Terriers.
TOY BREEDS (23)
Mr. Edd E. Bivin of Fort Worth, TX: Brussels Griffons, Chihuahuas (both Varieties), Papillons, Silky Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers.
Mrs. Connie H. Clark of Rio Del Mar, CA: Affenpinschers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, English Toy Spaniels (both Varieties), Japanese Chin, Toy Manchester Terriers.
Mr. John Constantine-Amodei of Jeffersonville, PA: Havanese, Maltese, Pekingese, Pomeranians, Shih Tzu, Toy Fox Terriers.
Ms. Sydney LeBlanc Good of Sarasota, FL: Chinese Cresteds, Italian Greyhounds, Miniature Pinschers.
Mr. Elliott B. Weiss of Novelty, OH: Pugs, Toy Poodles.
NON-SPORTING BREEDS (21)
Mrs. Eva E. Berg of Moraga, CA: Dalmatians, Keeshonden, Lhasa Apsos, Lowchen, Norwegian Lundehunds, Schipperkes, Shiba Inu, Tibetan Spaniels, Tibetan Terriers.
Mrs. Linda Hurlebaus of Palmetto, GA: American Eskimo Dogs, Bichon Frises, Boston Terriers.
Mr. Douglas A. Johnson of Bloomington, IN: Bulldogs, Chinese Shar-Pei, Chow Chows, Cotons de Tulear, Finnish Spitz, French Bulldogs, Xoloitzcuintlis.
Mr. Elliott B. Weiss of Novelty, OH: Miniature Poodles, Standard Poodles.
HERDING BREEDS (31)
Mr. Larry Adams of St. Louis, MO: Australian Shepherds, Bearded Collies, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, Polish Lowland Sheepdogs.
Mr. Michael Faulkner of Center Cross, VA: Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, Canaan Dogs, Collies (both Varieties), German Shepherd Dogs, Icelandic Sheepdogs, Miniature American Shepherds, Norwegian Buhunds, Shetland Sheepdogs.
Dr. Eric Liebes of Peyton, CO: Beaucerons, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdogs, Belgian Tervuren, Bergamasco Sheepdogs, Berger Picards.
Ms. Patti Widick Neale of Alachua, FL: Entlebucher Mountain Dogs, Finnish Lapphunds, Pumik, Pyrenean Shepherds, Spanish Water Dogs, Swedish Vallhunds.
Mr. Elliott B. Weiss of Novelty, OH: Bouvier des Flanders, Briards, Old English Sheepdogs, Pulik.