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Spring 2014
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Which One Is Top Dog?
This heart surgeon can tell you.
Robert Indeglia really knows his stuff when it comes to cardiothoracic surgery— and purebred dogs. The clinical associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery and former chief of cardiac surgery at The Miriam Hospital happens to be one of the nation’s most experienced and sought after dog-show judges.

Indeglia’s journey to the top of the dog-show officiating world began in childhood. He grew up showing his family’s cocker spaniels, and in 1960, began breeding champion Norwegian Elkhounds. He has bred or owned 50 champions and has served as president of the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America. He began judging in 1971, and is licensed to judge more than 100 breeds in four groups. In 2007, Indeglia achieved the highest purebred dogshow judge honor—to judge Best In Show at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club in New York, heading a panel of 35 judges from three countries.

Does a medical degree come in handy when judging dogs? “Oh, without a doubt,” he says. “Knowing anatomy, musculoskeletal structure and how it relates to a dog’s function helps you tell what’s a better dog. Even as a young whippersnapper in the dog judging world, I could always hold my own with the more experienced judges in these areas.”

Indeglia calls his involvement in dog shows over the past 40 years a wonderful diversion that helped him in his medical career as well. “I’d go away for the weekend to judge a show, to clear my mind, and then I could go back to taking care of very sick patients,” he recalls. He credits the reliability of his colleagues at his private practice with his ability to go away on weekends to judge over the years. Today, he is retired from medicine but maintains a busy judging schedule: he judged five shows last year and is slated to judge six this year, so far.

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