Conformation Judges

Col. Jonathan Chase, Carlisle, KY (Conformation - Best of Breed)

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I come from three generations of purebred dog breeders, exhibitors, and judges. My grandmother trained German Shepherds for duty as war dogs during World War II and was a successful breeder/judge of Pembroke Welsh Corgis. My grandfather was an avid hunter with several Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters and English Setters living with them on their farm in rural Massachusetts. I was very fortunate their next door neighbor was Mrs. Rachel Page Elliott (Featherquest) who until her death in 2009 was my friend, confidant, and mentor. She along with her longtime friends Ms. Joan Gill (Westley) and Mrs. Muriel Iles (Glennessa) had a major influence on me and my 40-year love affair with the Golden Retriever.

I have actively trained and shown my own dogs since the early 1970’s even though my military career restricted participation to but a few dogs. Kathy and I bred under the Mariner prefix and are proud Mariner Kennels continually produced quality Golden Retrievers equally at home in the show ring, the duck blind or resting comfortably on the family couch. I am equally proud of the many rescued Golden Retrievers Kathy and I have taken in over the years, who found new families to love.

I have been a member of the Golden Retriever Club of America for 35-plus years and served on the Board of Directors in the late 1990’s, most recently as President. I am a member of the Yankee Golden Retriever Club, the Golden Retriever Club of Greater Louisville and the Lexington Kennel Club. Additionally, Kathy and I are founders and current board members of the Nicholas County Animal Welfare Society, which in one year alone has placed over 500 stray and unwanted dogs in loving homes.

I served 25 years as a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, have a master's degree in Exercise Physiology and am an award-winning freelance photographer. I reside with my wife Kathy on a small horse farm near Lexington, Kentucky.  

Anne Katona, Reno, NV (Conformation - Regular and Non-regular Dog Classes)

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Anne is currently approved to judge five of the seven AKC recognized groups along with eight working breeds and three herding breeds. Her judging career has taken her to wonderful foreign assignments such as Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Ireland, Thailand, China, Korea, Brazil, Taiwan, Colombia, Denmark, Norway, Japan, Mexico, Venezuela, and Chile and recently Holland. She has written many articles for numerous dog magazines in the United States and overseas.

Anne is a Kerry Blue Terrier enthusiast whose dogs have won multiple Bests in Show and Specialty awards throughout the United States and Canada. In 2003, Anne had the privilege of judging Best in Show at Montgomery County Kennel Club – the largest All Terrier Show in the world. It has been a thrill for her to have judged at Westminster Kennel Club in New York City several times. From 2005 through 2010, she was employed by the American Kennel Club as a West Coast Executive Field Representative. Though the Kerry Blue Terrier will always be her heart dog, Anne stopped breeding dogs once approved to judge the Terrier Group. At present she and her husband Jack are owned by a Maine Coon Cat named Stiller (after the Pittsburgh Steelers).  

Ainslie Mills, Surrey, B.C., Canada (Conformation - Regular and Non-regular Bitch Classes)

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Thank you for the privilege of judging bitches at the GRCA National Specialty for the second time. Barrie and I have owned Golden Retrievers since 1974. While no longer breeding, we have shown in conformation, obedience and rally and have bred and/or owned more than 60 champions, many OTCHs and GRCC HOF Goldens. I have been active with the GRCC and GRCBC, holding Executive and Committee positions including President, Rescue Chair and Newsletter Editor. I am a Life Member of the Canadian Kennel Club and the Golden Retriever Clubs of America, Canada and British Columbia. I chair the GRCC Breed Standard & Judge’s Education Committee and was Chair of the GRCA Judges’ Education Committee for 15 years. I have presented seminars on Goldens in Canada, the USA, Australia, Indonesia and Japan.

As a CKC all-breed judge, I have judged across Canada and the USA, as well as Indonesia, with multiple trips to Australia and New Zealand. I was honored to have judged bitches at the GRC of Scotland championship show at the 2018 Guisachan Gathering. I have judged Golden Retriever Nationals in the USA, Canada, Indonesia and Australia, plus numerous other Sporting, Hound, Working and Herding breed specialties. I am a member of both the Canadian and Metro Vancouver Dog Judges Associations. I currently serve on the Canadian Kennel Club Breed Standards Committee and on the Board of the Friends of Guisachan. Now retired, I worked for more than 40 years in the library at my alma mater, Simon Fraser University, and enjoy reading, music, choral singing, theatre and collecting anything "Golden."  

Laura Franchi, Gilroy, CA (Conformation - Puppy and Veteran Sweepstakes Dogs and Best Veteran)

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It was after I was married in 1985 that I acquired my first dog. My husband Vic and I rescued a Golden Retriever puppy from the local shelter. It was when I started training him in obedience that I became involved in the sport of dogs. I put a few obedience titles on our first two Goldens then became interested in conformation. My husband and I have bred Goldens since 1993 under the Regency prefix producing over 30 Champions, several Group and Specialty winners, SDHF, Top 20, Outstanding sire and dams. We have also produced Goldens with obedience, agility and hunting titles as well as therapy dogs and service dogs.

Over the years and our moves from PA to MI then CA I have been an active member of the Golden Retriever Club of America serving on a few committees, Fort Detroit Golden Retriever Club, Norcal Golden Retriever Club, Sportsman Dog Training, and the Gavilan Kennel Club. While a member of these clubs I have served on Boards, as President, Chaired Committees and Specialties.

We have been lucky to share our life with so many wonderful Goldens over the years. Our involvement in the sport has allowed us to make many friends along the way. I would like to thank the Mid-Florida Golden Retriever Club for the honor of judging Sweepstakes at the National.  

Barbara Brown, Arlington, TX (Conformation - Puppy and Veteran Sweepstakes Bitches and Best Puppy)

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I currently live in Arlington, TX, but spent most of my life in nearby Dallas. My husband, David, and I have 2 sons and 4 grandchildren, and live with 2 golden retrievers. When we married over 42 years ago, one of our first purchases was a golden retriever pet, and we have shared our home with at least one or more goldens ever since.

In 1989 my obedience instructor took a special liking to my dog, Casey, and asked if she could show him in conformation in an upcoming dog show. I didn’t know what dog shows were all about, but I agreed. We went, and Casey almost won! David and I were hooked right then and there. After that, we just HAD to buy the proper vehicle AND all the proper gear, and from that day our lives were never the same again. Casey soon finished and dog shows became our favorite pastime.

We bred occasionally from 1993 to 2012 under the “Tempo” prefix and were extremely fortunate to have produced some highly-recognized dogs and bitches, including Westminster JAMs, Specialty winners, a National Specialty RWB, and 3 Bests in Show. Our foundation bitch was Ch. Rockhill Robins Upbeat Tempo, OD, SDHF. She was given to us by Claire Firestone from whom we had purchased Casey. She called us one day and said, “You know, I’m bathing this pet puppy that’s supposed to be picked up in a little while, but she looks SO nice. Would you take her?” We did. The rest is history. She finished easily when she was only 13 months old and produced 11 champions from her 3 litters. It was no wonder that showing and finishing dogs from the BBE Class soon became my passion. I’ve also enjoyed training for JH, WC/WCX, obedience and rally and it was a special thrill watching David successfully run Tess for her WCX title at the 1994 National.

I’ve been an active member of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metro Golden Retriever Club for over 30 years. I’m also a member of the Fort Worth Kennel Club, and, of course, the Golden Retriever Club of America. I’m so excited about this assignment! Thank you, GRCA, very much!  

Dr. Melissa Goodman, Philadelphia, PA (Conformation - Gun Dog Sweepstakes)

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While I am convinced that I’ve been a dog lover since birth (my parents report my crawling up to every dog I saw), my interest in the sport of purebred dogs didn’t begin until the age of 12, when my father took me and our Basset Hound puppy to training classes sponsored by the local Basset Hound club. I quickly became hooked on dog training, but not with a Basset! When Patches died during my first year of college, she was replaced with a Golden Retriever. Careful investigation had convinced me that this breed had the traits I desired: a sweet and loving nature, intelligence and trainability, desire to please, beauty and athleticism. I attended the most prestigious benched shows, talked to several breeders of winning dogs, and purchased a puppy with an impressive pedigree.

Emily became my constant companion through the stressful years of college and veterinary school. An eager learner and a born performer, she taught me what the breed is capable of – from High in Match as a youngster at our first obedience competition in Novice A to the first recipient of the San Francisco Gypsy Joy CD,WC Memorial Trophy as a veteran at the 1987 National. Unfortunately, Emily also taught me about limitations. Hip dysplasia and severe allergies kept her out of the breed ring and advanced obedience and field work, and lymphoma ended her life. More “careful investigation” showed me that “careful breeding” would have decreased the chances of these problems. I became fiercely dedicated to the preservation of the Golden – one which conforms to the standard in conformation, temperament, soundness and working ability, and still maintain good health.

My dogs are first and foremost beloved members of the family, and I only breed occasionally. I have been fortunate to have bred and or owned Goldens that have excelled in all areas of competition, have produced working guide dogs and service dogs, and have been excellent family pets and hunting companions. I have also bred and owned several Goldens who have lived past 17 years of age! Many thanks for the honor of judging Gun Dog Sweeps.  

Arvind deBraganca, Bell, FL (Conformation - Junior Showmanship)

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Arvind DeBraganca has been a dog enthusiast and exhibitor since 1989. Starting in Juniors, he went on to become a professional handler and breeder. Having had GSP, Newfs, Anatolians, Shibas, Manchesters, and, for the last 20 years, Dachshunds, he is very involved in preservation breeding and sustaining purebred dogs. As for Junior Showmanship, he has put on many no-cost seminars, clothing exchanges, and educational gatherings. His commitment to Juniors and growing the future of the sport is always on the forefront.