For 45 years, Anne Bowes has been showing her Pembroke Welsh Corgis at dog shows across the nation and around the world. Last Monday, she was invited to judge at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, one of the premier dog shows in the nation.

When she was 22 years-old, Anne Bowes was riding horses at her barn, in New York State, as she did every day, when she noticed yellow and white tents on the polo field. Curiosity got the best of her, so she ventured over to the field and discovered a dog show in progress.

“I immediately fell in love with it,” she said. “I walked over to the grounds and into the rest of my life.”

Bowes had a lot of experience showing horses, but she had never shown dogs. A dog-lover, she decided to look into shows and breeding. She attended her first dog show in 1967 and in February 1968 she went to Westminster Dog Club for the first time, where she chose which dog she wanted to breed.

“I didn’t have a breed at the time, so I was open to all,” she said. “There were nearly 140 breeds to choose from at the time and I saw the corgis and chose to start breeding.”

Bowes started showing her corgi right away, traveling around the country and learning the ins and outs of dog showing.

“The two most important things to remember when breeding is dogs must have good temperaments and good health,” Bowes said. “By showing dogs, you are proving that they are good enough to breed.”

With nearly 180 different dog breeds available today, each breed has its own national club that creates ideal standards for the breed. Each breed judge must be very familiar with that standard and judge each dog against it.

“You can breed better dogs if you breed only the dogs that do well at shows,” Bowes said. “That is how you develop a breeding program for excellent dogs.”

This is not the first time Bowes has been invited to judge at Westminster. In 1989, she applied to get her license to judge Pembroke Welsh Corgis and was invited as a Westminster breed judge in 1994. Bowes currently has licenses to judge Shetlands, Pugs and Cardigan Welsh Corgis, as well.

The self-titled “America’s Dog Show” is the second longest continuously held sporting event in the country, falling just one year behind the Kentucky Derby. For any non-breeder watching the televised dog show, understanding exactly what the judges are looking for in each dog may be difficult.

“The standard goes into great detail for what the head should look like, how much neck the dog has, how it should move and whether it has heavy bones, among other things,” Bowes said. “Every detail about the dog is described and judges make their decision based on the standard ideals of those descriptions.”

Through showing and judging, Bowes has had the opportunity to travel to Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and South Africa. She plans on traveling to Finland in August to continue judging.

“It’s wonderful to see the world this way; I had no idea this would happen,” she said. “Meeting people in my breed all over the world has been wonderful. I live in Duxbury and I might meet someone in South Africa and right away we have something in common.”

Bowes recently celebrated her 68th birthday and plans on continuing to judge and show her corgis. While she doesn’t think she’ll get another chance to judge at Westminster, she’s happy to have had the opportunity.

“There are plenty of places for me to judge before retiring,” she said. “It was a big thrill judging at Westminster; I’ve done it twice already. For someone who doesn’t judge that much, it’s a big honor.”