This Thanksgiving, there’s more to watch than just football. The National Dog Show will also be televised Thursday, recorded from the competition that took place last week in Philadelphia.
The show features a very close UofL Tie: Harry “Butch” Schulman, executive director of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in the School of Medicine, is one of the judges.
Schulman has been a UofL employee for 14 years. Prior, the retired lieutenant colonel worked as a medical service corps officer in the United States Air Force. He earned his undergraduate degree from UofL, where he swam on a four-year athletic scholarship.
Schulman then earned a master’s degree from George Washington University. While he was in Washington, DC, he worked as a congressional reporter in health policy on Capitol Hill.
When he joined the Air Force, he worked in facilities management and hospital administration, completing a post-graduate certificate in Group Practice Management from Wharton. That’s when he returned to his hometown of Louisville and worked as an administrator for a large cardiology group for many years.
“When the executive director position became available in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, I applied because I wanted to return to my alma mater, where my children could also receive a college education,” Schulman said.
Those plans fell through, as all four of his children ended up at out-of-state schools for specific majors (for example, his daughter majored in Dance Performance). But Schulman stayed put.
“I remained at UofL because it is where I have roots and it has always felt like home to me,” he said.
Schulman has been training and handling dogs since he was 8 years old. He learned the trade from his mom, a retired American Kennel Club judge. He has bred Collies for more than 40 years, and has owned and bred some of the top Collies in the country.
“It was a natural progression at this stage in the sport of purebred dogs for me to become a licensed American Kennel Club judge,” Schulman said.
So, he followed in his mother’s footsteps and is now licensed to judge the breeds in the Herding Group, the Working Group, the Sporting Group and some Terrier breeds. He’s also licensed to judge Best in Show.
“I enjoy judging Collies because it is my own breed, but I also like judging Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Pointers and Golden Retrievers,” Schulman said.
Though he judges Collies, he no longer actively breeds them, as he believes it is a conflict of interest for a judge. The lineage of dogs from the family of Collies he has bred is living in Cleveland with a close friend who has continued to breed their descendants.
The process to become a judge is rigorous. It requires written and oral exams, as well as extensive knowledge, exposure and education on the purpose, form and function of each breed he is approved to judge.
Schulman said loves studying the history and structure of the various dog breeds.
“I am a true academic to the core,” he said.
The National Dog Show is one of many for Schulman, who averages about two weekends of judging a month. He’s been honored with some prestigious judging assignments, including National Specialty shows for various breeds, but his favorite part of the job is traveling and meeting new people from “all walks of life.”
Schulman and his wife have a 14-year-old Collie named Sophie. She is his last show dog and a champion of record. He said they’re likely to get another, smaller breed in the next few years.
“I cannot ever see myself without a dog by my side,” he said.