The Life of a Professional Dog Handler

 

  1. Your Website?
  2. Where do you live ?
  3. Tell us how you got started in dogs.
  4. What made you know that this was where you belonged?
  5. Who were your mentors?
  6. Do you breed?
  7. Do you like to stick to any particular breed or group?
  8. How do you travel to shows? Hotel or RV? How many do you attend in the average year? Prefer outdoors or indoors (or
    don’t care)?
  9. What is the best thing about being a professional handler?
  10. What is the toughest part about being a professional handler?
  11. Is your family involved?
  12. Are you involved with an all-breed club? Have you held positions within the club?
  13. What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier?
  14. What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter?
  15. And for a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing you’ve ever witnessed (or heard about) at a dog show?

 

Luke & Rowan Baggenstos

Our website is Lukeandrowan.com. We live in Curtis, Washington; Luke, Rowan, Teagan (8) and Nolan (5).

Luke: I have been involved in purebred dogs my whole life. My parents breed Old English Sheep dogs and Afghans. I started to show dogs at the age of four and have been doing so since then! I am the currently the Northwest zone rep for PHA. My father and step mother are also professional handlers and Dinah my step mother is the president of the Professional Handlers Association. Rowan and I breed Japanese Chin, and Miniature Bull Terriers.

Rowan: I was born into a dog show family, attended my first show at two weeks old. My mother is an all breed judge, she has bred Akitas, Shiba Inus and Japanese chin. I worked for Professional handlers for 15 years, won my first best in show at 12 years old on a Shiba. I have spent my whole life in pure bred dogs and absolutely love dog shows. I have had Japanese chin for over 20 years now, breed many champions, national winners and shown best in show winners. They are without a doubt my favorite breed!

Our Mentors:

Luke: my father Rick and stepmother Dinah.

Rowan: I worked for Michelle Yeadon for over 12 years, she is who I learnt everything from and to this day still think of her as family. I have admired Andy Linton for as long as I can remember and think of him as one of the greatest handlers, I have learned a lot from watching him over the years.

We are both actively breeding Japanese Chin and Miniature Bullterriers. We do not stick to any particular breeds or groups. When traveling to the shows we are in our show hauler/renegade motorhome. We attend a show almost every weekend with very few weekends off. We prefer outdoors shows!

The very best thing about being a handler—the dogs!

The toughest part of being a handler is returning the dogs once their careers are finished. When we show dogs they become family, they become our dogs and the bond that we have with these dogs is so strong, when their show careers are done and they leave us to return to their owners it is so difficult. It is one thing for us as adults to be upset by these special dogs returning to their home but it is so hard on our kids, seeing how sad they are to say goodbye makes it so much harder.

Our families are very involved, our daughter starts juniors this February sand our son has enjoyed showing in Pee wee competitions! Rowan’s mother is an all breed judge, currently breeds and shows. Luke’s parents are professional handler and actively breeding.

We are members of our local all breed club (Timberland Kennel Club in Chehalis, Washington) and are both members of our national breed clubs. Luke was vice president of the Minibull club and Rowan is currently forming a local Japanese chin club.

If clubs could be more exhibitor friendly, make sure that your parking, grooming and show layout is workable for us, it would be much easier. It can be really difficult to show 20 dogs when our truck is a mile away or our grooming spot is in another building.

If clubs hire good judges, have a workable venue and make handlers feel welcome they will get our entries!

Dog shows in the Pacific Northwest are some of the most fun shows there are, we have an amazing group of handlers in this area and there always seems to be hilarious happenings at our shows! Too many funny stories to list, but if you haven’t come to shows out here you are seriously missing out!

Jennifer Bell

My website is Jenniferbellhandling.com and I live in Prairieville, Louisiana.

How I got into dogs? I grew up with Labradors and trained/ran them in hunt tests. When I went to college at 18 years old, I bought my first show dog with a student loan.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? I started watching Westminster on TV when I was three years old and always knew I’d have a life with purebred dogs.

Who were my mentors? As handler, Laura Coomes was my mentor. I had breed mentors as well.

Do I breed? Yes

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? I would say my specialty breeds are Beagles, Labradors and Great Danes, in that order.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? I actually drive a minivan after driving a Sprinter for years. I prefer to keep my carrying numbers low and prefer indoor shows. I attend at least 40 weekends of shows per year.

The best thing about being a professional handler? Dogs!

The toughest part about being a professional handler? Humans!

Is my family involved? No. I have full support from my husband and parents but they are not physically involved.

Am I involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? Yes. I am a member of the Baton Rouge Kennel Club but more involved with my National and Local Breed clubs. I have held many offices in my breed club.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? I don’t think it’s the clubs’ job to make a handler’s job easier.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? Hospitality, excellent judge panel and many offerings.

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? Amusing? All day every day.

 

Cheyenne Calvert

My website is facebook.com/SiriusHandling and I live in Vancouver, Washington.

How I got started in dogs: my mom got my siblings and I started in 4-H dogs as kids, I was the youngest of three so that meant I got to start as young as four years old! My mom let me pick my own dog when I was 9 years old, I picked a beautiful red English Cocker and started to transition into AKC showing him in breed and juniors. I now compete professionally in AKC and volunteer as a 4-H leader.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? I’ve just always loved animals and have been passionate about purebred healthy dogs. I’ve also always been extremely competitive so dog shows are this perfect combination of adorable dogs and the thrill of competing and being surrounded by people who share and understand that passion.

Who were my mentors? Professional Handler Randy Schepper, Breeder/Owner/Handler Kay Belter, my mom Kari Smith-Schlecht and my sister, Jessica Miller.

Do I breed? I have bred a couple litters under the guidance of Kay and Doug Belter.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? No, I tend to show a lot of sporting breeds but I really love showing all breeds! I love constantly learning and stretching my skill set and not just staying in a comfort zone.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? I attend about 35 shows a year all ranging from two to five days long. I love staying on the grounds except in the winter months. I think both indoor and outdoor shows have their pros and cons. I love the outdoor shows for my big dogs as I feel they have a better opportunity to move out but I like indoor shows better for my small dogs because the grass can throw off the proportions on small dogs making them look shorter and longer then they really are.

The best thing about being a professional handler? Getting to work with so many different breeds! I feel like a kid in a candy store that gets paid to try out different candies! It’s my husband’s favorite part too, he loves when I come home with new breeds!

The toughest part about being a professional handler? Clients (dogs and people) retiring, you build such a close bond with your clients over time it’s often very hard to say goodbye.

Is my family involved? Though my family got me started none of them are directly involved anymore. My sister is a groomer and my mom is a 4-H leader and ring stewards at local shows but most importantly she’s my dog sitter whenever I need her which has been a life saver this year. My husband was looking forward to getting more involved but was recently diagnosed with stage 4 sarcoma on his spine that has left him a quadriplegic. Our lives have been turned upside down this year and we are still struggling to find our new normal.

Am I involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? No, I have stuck with breeds clubs for now as well as leading a 4-H club. I love working with the 4-H kids and getting them hooked on AKC shows and teaching them more about the benefits of purebred dogs.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? Start groups earlier on Sunday please! To be fair, I know that’s the superintendent’s job, but I think clubs should request that whenever possible.  Also, being up to date with technology. There are already a few clubs doing it but utilizing Paypal to make parking and grooming reservations and sending confirmations via email with maps of where your set up is so you can have all that info before showing up.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? Cater to your exhibitors and make it fun! We’ve been seeing more of this in the northwest in the last couple of years and I’m loving it. We have clubs that give fresh donuts and coffee daily in the grooming room, platters of finger food and water at the group ring, have fun themes and even play music throughout the venue. It’s really the little things that keep me coming back year after year!

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? I mean I really don’t think you can beat watching a German Shepherd specialty. With the bells and the whistles and people running around the outside of the ring, it makes you want to grab some popcorn and just enjoy the show! Just make sure you go incognito or you’ll end up in the ring running around with them!

 

Sue Cannimore

My website is Redfoxlhasas.com.

I live in Terry, Mississippi. I was a late bloomer in showing, having not grown up in a home with parents or other family members involved in the sport. In fact, I had always had cats until about 1993, and I bought a pure-bred Lhasa pet for my daughter. The Lhasa had a champion sire, and a good friend of mine was involved in showing and talked me into showing him. I had never even attended a show at that time, but entered him in some nearby shows with knowing very little about handling. He started winning at his third show. It took almost a year to finish him, but he took his final major win by going over champions in San Antonio, Texas (yeah—I had started to travel longer distances by then since I was definitely hooked). I still worked as a full-time advocate for students with disabilities and was only able to show on weekends or when I had vacation time until I retired in 2017, but I started handling for others on a small scale and after seven years applied and was accepted into the AKC Registered Handling Program.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? My two children were going off to college, and I was suffering “empty nest syndrome”. This was the logical answer and just felt right.

Who were my mentors? The late Barbara and Frank Trujillo.

Do I breed? Not since I started handling more or less full time.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? I only handle small breeds, under 20 pounds.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? Right now I travel in a Honda Odyssey mini van with rear and middle row seats removed, but I aspire to upgrading to an RV.

The best thing about being a professional handler is working with the dogs. The toughest part about being a professional handler is the long hours of travel.

Is my family involved? I live alone, but I have an eleven year old granddaughter who is beginning Junior Showmanship, and I’m helping her get started.

Am I involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? I’m a member and past president of Mississippi State Kennel Club and a member of the American Lhasa Apso Club.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? Hire judges that truly enjoy judging and are pleasant to all exhibitors in the ring, know the standard of the dogs they’re judging and judge according to those standards.

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? I was given a Maltese to handle, and I’d never shown one before but talked to other exhibitors about making the coat appear more sparkling white. I was told to use bluing on it. I must have over-did the bluing because the dog had a hint of blue in the ring the following day. He must have been a nice Maltese since he won anyway. I no longer use bluing on white dogs, however. Lesson learned.

 

Tony Carter &
Amie McLaughlin

Our website is cartershowdogs.com and we live in Kent, Washington.

How we got started in dogs? Tony: I have always had dogs from the beginning. I was raised in a family that had German Shepherds. In my mid 20s I discovered the Chinese Shar-Pei breed, which ultimately brought me into the world of dog shows.

Amie: My family was not involved in dogs at all. I saw a dog show on TV when I was young and that sparked my interest in the sport. I joined 4-H and showed my mixed breed dogs. Later falling into dog shows through connections in school and 4-H.

What made us know that this was where we belonged? Tony: It was a natural fit because of the connection I have always felt with dogs. The unconditional love and appreciation that I have for dogs made it an easy choice.

Amie: The bonds I have formed with both my personal dogs and the dogs I handle have made me discover that I truly belong in this dog world.

Who were our mentors? Tony: Entering into showing dogs later in life, I was not afforded the opportunity to work with or study under anybody. There was one individual who quietly took me under his wing with words of encouragement and advice. Thank you Chuck Trotter for always being there and helping me along the way.

Amie: My most influential mentor in the show world would be Tony Carter. I had worked with several other handlers prior to joining his team. I learned useful information from each one, despite most being brief. Working with Tony now for almost five years, I have learned more about dogs and the dog show world than I ever imagined. I cannot thank him enough. The mentor I had in the breeding world would be Vali Eberhardt. She introduced me to the wonderful Norwegian Buhund breed and helped me discover my passion for breeding and showing my own dogs.

Do we breed? Tony: I bred Chinese Shar-Pei for over 30 years. I had multiple Best in Show, National Specialty Winning, and #1 dogs throughout the years. One of my biggest highlights was being AKCs first breeder/owner/handled Shar-Pei in the history of the breed.

Amie: I currently breed Norwegian Buhunds. My foundation bitch is the top winning Buhund in AKC breed history. Some of her accolades include multiple Best in Shows, Reserve Best in Shows, National Specialty Wins, and Westminster breed wins. I have bred five champions, three GCHs, a group winner, two multiple group placers, and many other major pointed dogs.

Do we like to stick to any particular breed or group? Not necessarily, we just try to show the best quality examples of any breed we have the opportunity to promote.

How do we travel to shows and how many do we attend in the average year? We drive or fly to shows and typically stay in hotels. We attend at least three weekends of shows a month, with many months having a show every weekend. We prefer indoor shows, but outdoor shows are great as long as the weather cooperates.

The best thing about being a professional handler? Both: First and foremost, the dogs. Secondly, meeting interesting and new people around the world.

The toughest part about being a professional handler? Tony: Being away from family as much as we have to be. With that being said, this business has afforded me the opportunity of being home with my family a lot. It’s a catch 22.

Amie: For me few toughest part is sending dogs home after a career. The bond is always so strong that they become family members. It is very tough to have to send them home.

Is our family involved? Tony: No, but they throughly enjoy getting updates and looking at the dog’s ads.

Amie: No, my family loves to live vicariously through my dogs accomplishments.

Are we involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? Both: No

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? For the most part clubs do a good job working and catering to handlers.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? Owners love nice ribbons. I know owners that love to send their dogs to certain shows because of the ribbons offered.

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? Amie: in Orlando a few years ago during the herding group at one of the pre shows, we were doing our last go around and Jere Marder’ Old English Sheepdog pushed her into the line of the ramp. She then proceeded to run up the ramp and over! To which Jon Cole responded with throwing his hands in the air and yelling “Bravo!”

 

Joyce Coccia

My website is Facebook.com/ProfessionaldogshowhandlingbyJMCoccia.

I live in Norwood, Massachusetts. I have had dogs my entire life and when I was 12 a neighbor who operated a German Shepherd kennel offered me a job. My mother said no, my father said yes and I began working with dogs.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? When you are happy to go to work every day, you know you are in the right place.

Who were my mentors? I believe that you have mentors for various stages of your life and career; mentors in life, mentors in your job and mentors in the moment. Some of the mentors whose influence still guides me today include Harold Marcus, Geri Kelly, Bunny Millikin, Janet Bunce and Pat Trotter.

Do I breed? I bred golden retrievers under the Bella D’Oro kennel prefix for over 40 years.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? I primary show Sporting and Terrier breeds however I have shown a number of Top 20 dogs in other groups.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? Hotel or RV? I travel in an RV. On average I am at 120 shows per year; outdoors or indoors makes no difference to me.

The best thing about being a professional handler? Building the relationships with the dogs in my care and being there for that moment when everything comes together and they shine.

The toughest part about being a professional handler? Saying goodbye. You put your heart and soul into these dogs as if they were your own build a relationship and then you send them home.

Is my family involved? I have a cousin that breeds and shows Bull Terriers.

Am I involved with an all-breed club? No, not at this time.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? Clubs have invested a lot of time and energy into making improvements to the shows that they host and it shows. If I had anything to say here it would be to continue asking for and listening to the feedback of all exhibitors.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? As I said above, keep asking for and listening to our feedback. The more we feel heard, the more likely we are to enter.

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? When you have been doing this for any length of time you have so many stories to pick from! Somehow they all seem to be related to wardrobe malfunctions. Years ago a Golden breeder was showing a lovely class bitch. She got to the corner on her down and back, stopped, removed her slip and returned to the judge with her slip in hand. Or the time I was in the Golden ring and after my exam the judge asked if when I did my down and back I could “Pick up her Spanx” that had apparently fallen off. I had to turn to my fellow exhibitors and ask what Spanx were.

 

Laura Coomes

I live South of Ocala, Florida. I was blessed to be born into the sport.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? I love training and dogs give you everything you ask, so it’s fun to see them shine.

Who were my mentors? I’m one lucky handler. My parents to start! Jeff Brucker for my training and anybody he made me go listen to so I could learn more.

Do I breed? I have bred many breeds. But I currently breed Great Danes under the name Danekraafts and Berger Picards under the name Pickraafts.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? I come from working breeds so I fill up most of my day in those rings but no I love learning new breeds and have shown many breeds with
great success.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? We travel in motorhomes for the most part. Indoor or outdoor both are okay. We show 40 weekends a year.

The best thing about being a professional handler is getting to enjoy making dreams come true for our owners. The toughest part about being a professional handler is saying goodbye to a dog we have given our hearts and souls to when they retire. Even harder to get the call when they cross the rainbow bridge.

Is my family involved? My family loves dogs. My parents cheer me on weekly. My son loves the puppies and training them. My boyfriend is a top handler as well. My sister runs the kennel and “midwoof” for dogs and puppies.

Am I involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? I am in one dane club GDCLA but at this time my extra time is taken playing the mommy role when I’m home.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? Try to separate breeds so that handlers that come from one group can make their rings. Meaning if you show five different working breeds don’t make all five breeds go at once in five different rings. That’s when we need many good friends to help.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? Don’t make expenses so high for parking and grooming. At some point everyone needs a weekend off. I’ll choose that show to skip.

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? Oh this question can go on and on. At the Dane nationals we have a three to five month puppy class. One judge startled a puppy and it ran in between the owner’s legs turned and faced the judge, the puppy barked at the judge then ran into the judge’s arms with kisses. So stinkin cute. He went on to go reserve best puppy.

 

CJ Favre

Our web site is www.caninespecialist.com. We live in North Georgia, in the small community of Cumming, Georgia.

I got involved with dogs through my wife, Lisa. She got me involved through obedience. I attended obedience classes with Lisa and her German shepherd. I started participating in obedience classes with my pet Irish Terrier, which my friend gave me. The next 30 years we will call history.

I was an air traffic controller when I started training dogs. I joined The Montgomery Alabama Dog Obedience Club and became very active in training dogs. In our travels to obedience trials Lisa and I started watching conformation. We also met conformation people in our obedience circle. We started showing German Shepherds with my first mentor Eddie Knight.

Lisa and I currently breed Kerry Blue Terriers under the kennel prefix: LISIJI. I am also involved in breeding Portuguese Water Dogs.

I like to do all breeds from toys to giant breeds, coated to non-coated. Lately our breeds we show are big and heavily coated.

Our rig, known as “Big Green”, is a Box Truck for the dogs. We pull a 32 foot travel trailer/toy hauler for us. We do approximately 150 AKC dog shows annually, traveling 25 to 30 thousand miles a year. We have had the pleasure of seeing a large part of our beautiful country and the world. The venue is very important in my profession, but we don’t have any say in the venue, as we rely on the clubs to find a suitable venue. I prefer outdoor show sites weather permitting.

Being a professional handler is like belonging to a large family, both the good and bad. The people in this group are always ready to help fellow exhibitors. You can witness this weekly.

The toughest part of being a professional handler is the hours. Understanding the responsibility of caring for live animals is of utmost importance. Not coming from a family of dog people I learned everything by hands on and with the assistance of other professionals and breeders. This is one profession that needs to be handled down from generation to generation.

As a member of two all-breed clubs in the Atlanta area I assist in putting on some of the local dog shows. I volunteer to be the grooming chairman, setup and monitor the grooming areas for all local clubs. I feel this is part of my pay back to my dog family.

 

Julia Foster

My website is Julia-foster.com and I live in Leasburg, Missouri.

How did I get into dogs? My parents were Handlers and bred German Shepherd Dogs.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? I showed part time while I was going to college and knew that I wanted to spend more time training and showing dogs.

Who were my mentors? Of course my parents, Carl and Fran Foster, were my first and most important mentors in breeding German Shepherd Dogs. One other person comes to mind, Betty Jean Lemler of Vonshore Kennels, but there were many breeders who I talked to and asked questions when I didn’t understand something. I am still asking questions and learning.

Do I breed? I am able to continue breeding with some wonderful co-owners.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? I like to show all breeds and learn about those individual breeds. I specialize in Working and Herding breeds.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? I LOVE outdoor shows and am sad that so many shows have moved indoors. I travel in an RV and keep the dogs with me in the evenings. I find this way is the most convenient for me as I am on the road approximately 47 weeks a year.

The best thing about being a professional handler? Not sitting at a desk all day and punching a time clock. I love taking a new dog and teaching it. Watching a dog “get it” brings the biggest smile to my heart.

The toughest part about being a professional handler? You have NO life. Missing the family part of life is the hardest for me. Self employment has its own down side in any field.

Is my family involved? Without my family at home I’d have a hard time doing my job, so in that respect, yes, they are very involved. Everyone in my family loves animals and now my mom shows chickens instead of dogs.

Am I involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? I am a member of Jefferson County KC, GSDCA, and Greater Cincinnati Rottweiler Club. I have held positions in
the past.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? The parking, or lack of, has been an issue this year. Entries are down so the clubs charge for RV parking to help with costs in very dirty lots with no electric or water available. I try to avoid those shows which decreases their entries even more. If there are no facilities available they should reconsider their parking fees.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? I realize most clubs have a hard time finding venues for shows but the venues need to work with the clubs and exhibitors better.

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? At Waukesha one year when the judge wasn’t looking someone snuck into the group ring and lined up for judges examination in a cow costume.

It seems like the judges used to joke with exhibitors more but in today’s society people are too sensitive and have lost their sense of humor. Dog shows should be fun for everyone.

 

Diego Garcia

We live in Lillington, North Carolina. How I got started in dogs? My parents breed Boxers. they start at the 80.

I love dogs; I remember when I was young coming back from school I always stopped at a pet shop and veterinarian and to see all the dogs, I remember they let me help and walk dogs—I was
in heaven.

One day my father wants us to go to a dog show, it was a big show down in Argentina, and that was it, we showed a plain brindle Boxer. I remember like it was yesterday, she took third in the class and let me tell you, we were so, so happy on our way home after the show—we couldn’t stop talking about the dog show for hours. I knew that it will be my life.

I had the honor and privilege to observe and learn by watching and listening from so many great handlers—it’s a process that you never stop learning.

I love to watch the handlers when they show! We don’t breed dogs these days but I love to show dogs if I can in all the groups!

We travel in our motorhome; we normally carry six or seven dogs and we do around 160 shows a year. I love outdoors shows and the time that I spend with our dogs is priceless—love to see them every day. The process to becoming show dogs is magic.

We don’t belong to any club but it’s something that we have in mind for the future.

 

Heidi Gervais

My website is Heidigervais.com. I live in Cobble Hill, British Columbia on beautiful Vancouver Island, Canada.

How I got started in dogs? My parents bought an Irish Setter because they were good with children (I have two sisters) and mom decided she wanted to breed. Her first litter was in 1976 when I was ten years old. I loved staying home from school and helping her whelp the litters and started “skipping school” to go to dog shows with her. My dad wasn’t that big of a supporter of the “skipping school” because he was a teacher!

What made me know that this was where I belonged? I worked as an assistant for 12 years and then decided to get a “real job”. I went to computer school and got a job at a High Tech company. After working there for six years and only doing shows on weekends (dubbed a Weekend Warrior)—I knew I wanted to do this full time.

Who were my mentors? As far as handling, Taffe McFadden when she lived in Canada. I worked for her when I was in high school until I graduated and she left and went to California. I then went to Connecticut and worked for Elliot and the late Linda More. In breeding dogs—my Mom, Valerie Gervais (Kulana Irish Setters), Lynne Bruce (Hollyrood Scottish Deerhounds), Tim Ufkes (Cuchulain IWS) and recently Donna and Mike Beadle (Eclipse Berger Picards).

Do you breed? My mom and I breed Irish Setters and I co-breed Scottish Deerhounds, Berger Picards, Irish Water Spaniels with my mentors mentioned above and have co-bred a litter of Smooth Fox Terriers.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? I love variety as you can tell by the breeds I’ve bred!

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? I just bought a new Dodge Promaster van (LOVE IT) and hotel during the winter. In the summer I rent RVs so I can stay on the grounds with my dogs. I do approximately three weekends a month. I love outdoors especially shows in the rain where I can put on my Patriots baseball cap and boots!

What the best thing about being a professional handler? The dogs—as everyone knows I love my dogs! My sister who works in an office always messages me on a beautiful sunny day—“Good Day to be a Dog Handler”. She knows the dogs and I will be heading to the beach!

The toughest part about being a professional handler? I would say the driving even with my new van. I show mainly large dogs so there is no option for me getting on a plane to go from show to show. If I won the lottery I would hire a professional driver or buy a private jet!

Is my family involved? We have been involved in dogs all my life which I’m very thankful for as I’ve always had the support to do what I love. My mom Valerie Gervais is an All Breed judge.

Am I involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? I am the Vice President of the Tyee Kennel Club on Vancouver Island and the President of Sporting Dog Club of BC. I am a life member of the CKC and the Tyee Kennel Club. I am also a member of the SDCA, IWSCA and ISCA. This year I am in charge of Merchandise for the SDCA National.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? This question bothers me as I work for non-profit kennel clubs. We give money back to the community and our members volunteer their time. We provide a venue for handlers to make a living so I don’t believe our purpose is to make it easier for handlers. We put on our shows to showcase purebred dogs and our main objective is to have the dogs interest first and foremost for example reserved grooming so dogs don’t have to sit in crates longer than necessary in line for their handlers, owners to get a spot, etc.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? Once again I don’t think it should be about the handlers but my priority for our shows it to make it a destination dog show. I am lucky to live on Vancouver Island (aka Paradise Island) which is definitely a destination! We have amazing judges, great raffles, plenty of local knowledge for wineries and restaurants and we are one of the only clubs left that actually have trophies/prizes (not money because the handlers take that!).

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? I have to say the story of Will Alexander vs rebar! (Sorry Will, I know you didn’t find it amusing!)

 

Adrian Ghione

My website is adrianghionehandling.com and I live in Oakdale, California.

How I got started in dogs: when I was 16, my dad acquired an unruly Akita pup that I took to Obedience classes, I participated in obedience and agility events and, in time, I got involved with conformation.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? There’s no feeling that can compare to the love I receive back from the dogs I work with.

Who were my mentors? Mark and Sally George.

Do I breed? I actually breed Portuguese Podengo Pequeno.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? No, I enjoy the diversity and I’m always ready for a new breed and a new challenge.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? I travel in a fully outfitted van and stay at hotels or rental houses if possible. I attend 45 weekends a year in the average. And being in Sunny California, I prefer to be outside.

The best thing about being a professional handler? The amount of time spent with dogs from different breeds, the connections and bonds we get to create with them, as well as the possibility to travel and tour this beautiful country.

The toughest part about being a professional handler? Knowing that you’re solely responsible for the well being of living creatures. I look at the dogs in my care and know that each one of them is somebody’s baby.

Is my family involved? My dad shows dogs in Argentina.

Am I involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? No.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? Provide space that can accommodate our needs to ensure the well being of the dogs and be understanding of the requirements and challenges that our profession presents.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? Cluster up in one location.

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? While at a show in Alaska, I was told we may have to suspend the show until the bear left the grounds.

 

Georgia Hymmen

My website is DaynakinGreatDanes.com. I live in the lovely northwest corner of Washington state in Ferndale, Washington.

How I got started in dogs? I’d always wanted a large breed but wasn’t allowed to have one as a child. When I moved out on my own, I started to look at big breeds. I considered Irish Wolfhounds, St. Bernards and Danes. I quickly decided to go with Danes as I had a hard enough time doing my own hair let alone dealing with a breed that needed grooming.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? I have always loved animals. As a child, we always had a small-breed dog and I had horses up until high school.

Who were my mentors? I was very fortunate to have Jane Chopson as a mentor. Not only was she an excellent handler, she had a great eye for a dog and her advice and input was invaluable. And, if you didn’t toe the line, she let you know!

Do I breed? Yes, I actively breed Great Danes and am proud that dogs of my breeding are versatile and are both competitive in the show ring and in performance events. I am also very proud that dogs of my breeding have become certified therapy dogs.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? Yes, I primarily show Great Danes. I also do a few other breeds, including Ridgebacks. I stick with the big dogs—and I don’t do hair!

How do you travel to shows and do we prefer outdoor or indoor shows? For us, traveling to shows can be by RV, motel, or staying with friends. It varies depending on the show location and number of dogs. We prefer to take the RV when possible, as it’s just so much easier for dog care when dealing with big breeds. When that’s not possible, travel is with the van. I am very fortunate that I have a large number of dog friends I frequently can stay with, so staying at a motel is thankfully limited. Putting several Danes in a motel room can be challenging at times!

In depends greatly on the venue-and weather. In the Pacific Northwest, early spring outdoor shows can be miserable. My short-coated breeds don’t like the wet and cold and show badly in such weather. And, in the summer heat can be an issue. Ring condition, for outdoor rings, can be problematic if the grass is wet or lumpy. Conversely, indoor shows can be very crowded, hectic and stuffy. I have some favorite indoor and outdoor shows and again, varies on venue.

The best thing about being a professional handler? I really enjoy getting to know the various breeds; not only in terms of their breed standard and structure, but also their personality and essence. I also have met some terrific people in the show world—many have become long time friends.

I also find the support of others who are involved in the sport heart-warming. You can take a group of people who are competitive and when something happens like an accident, loose dog, whatever—people put their differences aside, drop everything, and help.

The toughest part about being a professional handler? I find the constant packing, cleaning, unpacking, setting up and tearing down very “unfun”. While the big handlers have assistants, we handle only a small number of dogs and don’t really warrant having an assistant. And of course the driving—living where I do, there are only one or two local shows so at a minimum travel is 4-to-8 hours one way. Most travel for me involves going through Seattle and that’s a major traffic headache.

Is my family involved? My husband, Jack Henderson, is very involved in many aspects. He’s the RV driver, dog walker extraordinaire (he can get that dog that won’t go the bathroom to finally do its business!) and packing guru. Up until about a year ago, he was active helping me handle but some health issues have prevented that recently.

Are we involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? I am a member of the Mt. Baker Kennel Club. However, due to some life events, I have not been an active member recently. In the past, I’ve been vendor chairperson and my husband did RV parking. I do belong to several Dane clubs and hold positions in the various clubs.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? I think clear communication for things like parking and grooming space can make life much easier for handlers. It’s so frustrating to drive for hours in heavy traffic and arrive at the site knowing you have to set up and have dogs to care for—and only to find the parking staff has parked your RV in a spot with a rock or a tree in the middle of it and there is no way to fit. Then, you wait hours until they figure out where to put you. Such problems could be easily resolved by parking staff actually doing a walk through so they are familiar with the spaces.

Also, having a go-to person for problems regarding parking or grooming would be very helpful. While most clubs DO have a person that can help, it’s super frustrating to have to wander around trying to find someone who can help.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? Good judges! It seems many of the newer judges aren’t that familiar—or comfortable—with the breed they are judging. Again, clear communication and signage can go a long way in helping know what is where and when.

And, choosing a superintendent that is “user friendly”. Some of the supers are great, very helpful and others not so much!

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? I had a VERY large harl male who was a bit on the obnoxious side that I showed years ago. He was very bonded with me, and put up a fuss if I asked someone to hold him while I attended to something else. It got so people saw me coming with him and turned the other way because they did NOT want to hold him.

It was almost ring time. I had to use the restroom like NOW. I looked around; everybody who was skilled enough to hold him had disappeared. It was like there was an evacuation. However, I noticed Scott Hamlin sitting in a metal folding chair ringside, with his back to me. (Now, if you didn’t know Scott, he was a very large man both in stature and height.)

I approached Scott, and before he could turn around, asked if he could hold my dog and he agreed to it before he saw who the dog was. Being a good sport, he grudgingly agreed and I ran off to use the facilities.

As I returned, the dog saw me. He began getting excited and started screaming. Scott hung on tight. I got closer. The dog then went into weight pull mode and started towards me at a pretty good clip. Scott, being an experienced Dane person, hung on. That dog wasn’t going anywhere on his watch.

However, the dog had other ideas. He simply started pulling. Scott hung on. All would have been good IF the chair hadn’t started sliding! At this point, Scott couldn’t get his feet under him to stand up because of the pulling, and the chair, with Scott firmly sitting on it, proceeded to move towards me while emitting a horrid screeching sound. Of course all eyes were on Scott to see what the problem was. I rushed in, and grabbed the dog. Scott was not impressed.

I also had another incident with this dog. I had a junior helping me, and he insisted he could take the dog from ringside to our van. I figured I would be right there and supervise. Well, once again, the dog got in weight pull mode and this poor kid was airborne. Because of the crowd, I could not grab the dog. The best I could do was grab the kid by the belt. Our combined weight stopped him and all was well, but the poor kid was so embarrassed.

 

Kellie Miller

I don’t have a website at this time and I live in Arvada, Colorado.

How I got started in dogs: I was born into the sport. My mother, Deb Miller, worked for Delores Maltz when I was a child, and raised Labradors, American Cockers and Siberian Husky. My grandmother, Wilma Awana, raised Silky Terriers.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? Simply put—the Universe. I never wanted to be a Professional Handler. I knew there was a physical, mental and emotional toll on people that chose this life. Being away from family, lifting, driving, missing important life events, etc. was never my idea for my life. I’ve always been good at it and every time I stepped away there was always something pulling me back. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, I just always thought there was another path for me. That is until I had to lay myself off from my last job. Long story short, I finally let the Universe decide where my path was. I have been handling on and off for over 20 years, but full time for ten, and have not had as much as a hiccup since making the decision. I am where I belong.

Who were my mentors? I could write a novel here. Easily, my mother is a HUGE contributor. Deb Miller, made me read standards and learn how to interpret them. She made me put two titles on the back side of my Juniors dog name, so I could see why dogs have to be built the way they are and learn to train them for something beyond left handed circles. She taught me that there is really no “Crying in Dog Shows.” She is easily the BEST Dog Trainer I have ever met. I grew up idolizing Bergit Kabel, as she handled my grandmothers best friends Scotties. I worked for Ellen Cottingham, as a young adult, and the impact she has made on my life has been great indeed. I learn regularly from my clients about their breeds specifics, and I challenge them when they are in a teachable moment, so the ideas are clear in my own mind. Simply put, if someone has been in the sport over 30 years, and I have known them, I consider them a mentor. I watch and learn from them all.

Do I breed? Yes, I breed Brittanys. I did not start breeding until roughly ten years ago though. I spent the 30+ years of my previous dog life being a shadow to my Mother and her breeding partner, my clients, and all manor of other mentors in my life. I listened at dinner tables, and soaked up everything I could before I ever considered breeding anything. This is a unique situation, as I had already won every ribbon I could imagine before my first litter hit the ground. I have since learned there are a few more that are almost more important than the great wins that came before. I am so proud of the accomplishments that have come since starting my
breeding program.

I do not like sticking to one breed or group. I like the challenge of being an all around dog person. Naturally, I know my strength is in the Sporting Group, but I feel fortunate to have the ability to cross groups with ease.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? I easily do 130-150 shows a year. I travel in my Ford Transit with a Cargo Trailer. Living in Colorado, we don’t have a lot of options for shows, so you may see me in Florida one weekend and Washington State a month later. The driving is the most tedious part of traveling and I really wish I could sometimes travel in an RV.

The best thing about being a professional handler? I LOVE my dogs, grooming, training and being my own boss. Setting my schedule, or taking time off, not generally setting myself to anyone’s clock, but the official start time at the show.

The toughest part about being a professional handler? The driving. If we lived on the East or West Coast, I would not spend near as much time behind the wheel of my van. I woke up this morning and realized that over the course of the last three weeks, I have spent seven full days driving. No wonder I rarely have time to catch up with myself. We only have nine weekends of shows in the State of Colorado, and one of those shows is actually held in New Mexico now. It takes generally three hours to drive out of this state any given direction from Denver. I’m exhausted.

Is my family involved? My mother and I are all that’s left of our family and our involvement in the sport.

Am I involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? Yes, I am the Show Chair for Arapahoe Kennel Club, in Aurora, Colorado.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? I find most clubs to be very accommodating to Handlers, and if they aren’t I just don’t go back. My expectations as a Handler is to make my own life easier, by preparing for what the different clubs have to offer.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? This is a trick question in my book. People enter if they feel the judging panel is good. Everyone’s opinion of a panel is going to be different. Some years a panel is going to look good to a lot of people, and some years, not so much. The next best thing that dictates my path is time of year and weather. I don’t go too far of a beaten path in bad weather or to be outside.

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? For the cleanliness of the audience—I haven’t laughed as hard as I did this past weekend at the American Brittany Club National Specialty. They had a Balloon Dog Handling Class with five exceptional kids and four Pros. Each of the Pros animals were excused or DQ’ed for various reasons, but the kids were all working so hard to keep their balloon dogs upright and moving correctly. I laughed until I cried!

 

Kristina Rock

I don’t have a website yet and I am located in Phoenix, Arizona.

How I got started in dogs? My sister and I were born and raised into the dog world, we are third generation dog people. Our father’s parents showed and bred Rough Collies and our mother’s mom bred and showed multiple breeds including Great Danes, Papillons, and Australian Terriers and our her father showed and trained in obedience with all sorts of breeds. Both our parents also went on to become professional handlers together and bred Australian Terriers carrying on our grandmothers legacy in the breed.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? Dogs have always been in my life and without them I feel incomplete. Being at dog shows is where I’ve always fit in the most and being able to have a career where I can play with dogs all day every day is a dream come true!

Who were my mentors? I had many mentors along the way. My parents were a big help and always pushed me and helped me to succeed and showed me the way of dogs. As well as Wood Wornal and Duke and Tina Donahue.

Do I breed? I have just recently started to gets my hands on a few breedings of my choosing with a few special dogs but I have not started breeding myself in my home yet. But I do plan to in the next few years.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? Labradors have become my breed of choice. Over ten years ago I was fortunate enough to team up with wonderful breeders, Duke and Tina of QuailChase Labradors and ever since then my love for the breed has grown and I hope to continue in the Lab ring and start my own breeding path soon.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? Traveling to shows I prefer to use our motorhome but sometimes it is a van and a hotel stay for the weekend it all just depends on which shows and the dogs I am carrying. I do not have a preference on indoor or outdoor shows. It mostly just depends on the weather which one I prefer.

The best thing about being a professional handler? Getting to be around dogs all the time.

The toughest part of being a handler is the constant going. I am always on the road and even though I would not change it for anything it would be nice to have a little more time at home.

My family is very much involved. Although my parents are no longer handling professionally, they’re always at any local show they can make it to to come and cheer me and my sister on as well as show some of their own personal dogs in obedience and rally.

Am I involved with an all-breed club and held positions within the club? I am not a member of an all breed club but I am a member of my local Labrador club, Papago Labrador Club. But I have not yet held a position in my club.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? Most of the shows I go to always do their best to make everyone’s lives as easy as possible. Running an all breed show is not an easy task so I always give props to the people that do so and keep these shows going.

 

Lori Sargent

My website is www.professional-dog-handler.com and I live in Michigan.

How I got started in dogs? At the age of 15, I started working at a boarding kennel where Bloodhounds and Doberman Pinschers were also bred. I started conformation showing Bloodhounds. I purchased my own Doberman and showed him in conformation and obedience.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? I always loved animals, especially dogs. I was always very competitive. To have these two passions together in one sport was, and still is, my bliss.

Who were my mentors? There was no one person that helped me learn about the sport. There were many people along the way.

Do I breed? Yes, German Wirehaired Pointers.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? I find it very interesting to learn about new breeds and to gain experience in many breeds.

How do I travel to shows? I have a small box van that I pull my travel trailer with in the summer and I stay in hotels in the winter. How many do I attend in the average year? I’ve never counted, but I’d estimate 30-40. Do I prefer outdoors or indoors? It depends on the breeds and the individual dogs I’m showing.

The best thing about being a professional handler? Spending time with the dogs and my friends and the shows.

The toughest part about being a professional handler? The impatience of some owners that think their dog should win every show.

Is my family involved? No, but my husband is very supportive.

Am I involved with an all-breed club? No, but I intend to join one.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? I don’t expect clubs, or anyone else, to give me or other professional handlers any special favors or make any concessions.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? Multiple shows on one weekend at the same location and competent judges.

 

Michelle Smith

My Facebook page is Michelle Smith Wolcott professional AKC dog handler.

I live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

My mom got a Weimaraner to show and she hurt her back and I was like I’ll try to show him. That was it I was hooked. I started showing him in the breed and Jr’s and my mom never showed him.

What made me know that this was where I belonged? It was such a friendly and fun atmosphere, and being around all different breeds just sucked me right in.

Who were my mentors? Vic and Sue Capone and Bob Stebbins.

Do I breed? No.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? I am known for Weimaraner, German Shorthaired Pointers but I can show pretty much any thing. No Poodle or major grooming though.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? I travel in a motorhome. I average close to three weekends a month. I don’t really have a preference indoor or outside shows. Indoor is normally more convenient.

The best thing about being a professional handler is showing a dog to the best of it ability and making owners happy. The toughest part is long hours, lots of time on the road and not a lot of sleep.

Is my family involved? My husband travels with me and is working for site control at shows.

Am I involved with an all-breed club? No.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? Don’t spread the show out over large area, when you have several dogs I ring spread out far it make a hard day.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? A good judging panel and prime grooming.

 

Linda Whitney

My website is Acaciakennels.com and live in Wesley Chapel, Florida.

How I got started in dogs? My uncle and aunt owned and bred Dobermans. I enjoyed playing with them and teaching them tricks. In 1982, I went to look at a litter of Dobermans to purchase a puppy. After watching the litter interacting, I pointed to the female that I liked and wanted. The breeder said she was pick puppy and had to go to a show home. I asked her what “show home” meant. She spent the next hour explaining it to me. I brought my first girl, Crista, home. I researched conformation and obedience classes. We attended both. At six months of age, I entered her first show, doing both conformation and obedience.

What made I know that this was where I belonged? My love of dogs and competitive nature.

Who were my mentors? Jeff Brucker and Carlos Rojas.

Do I breed? Yes, Dobermans. Also, co-bred Great Danes and Boxers.

Do I like to stick to any particular breed or group? No, I handle all Breeds.

How do I travel to shows and how many do I attend in the average year? Hotel and 100+, indoor or outdoors doesn’t matter.

The best thing about being a professional handler? Training the dogs to their “best”. Also, meeting so many wonderful people, establishing enduring friendships. The toughest part about being a professional handler is knowing the dog you’re showing has the characteristics of the AKC Breed standard and having to tell the client/owner their dog didn’t win.

Is my family involved? Yes, my husband, Chuck Whitney, was a working group judge for over 20 years, currently on emeritus status. Also, he was a PHA Handler, prior to his judging career.

Am I involved with an all-breed club and have I held positions within the club? Yes, the Central Florida Working Group. I’m the recording secretary and trophy chairman.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier and make handlers want to enter? Better coordination of judging program/times within Breeds of the same group. Ensuring that the venue is geared towards the dogs and exhibitors.

The most amusing thing I’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? In North Carolina about 25-30 years ago, I enjoyed watching the “Old Handler’s show“ (after BIS) with Handler’s doing everything wrong possible, it was hysterical!

 

John & Tammie Wilcox

We only have a website for our boarding kennel Winstarbedandbiscuit.com. I would say that I have my hands full with the boarding facility website and have never taken the time to develop one for the handling.

We live in Tacoma, Washington. That is the West Coast and not the Capitol (Washington DC).

John is from three generations of showing and breeding dogs. His mother, Janet Wilcox was a handler with her husband Elmer (Hank) Wilcox starting back in the 50s. Janet also was a show secretary during the days that Superintendents didn’t really exist. Her last role was a licensed AKC conformation judge for over 50 years. John has all the DNA to be involved in our sport. When AKC licensed handlers he was an AKC All Breed licensed handler in 1970 or somewhere close to that.

I (Tammie) has a pedigree that isn’t as shiny or well bred. My mother, Judy (retired) was a wonderful trainer in obedience, tracking, search and rescue, protection, Sport Dogs and field training hunt dogs. She and a number of her friends were the ones that kept me involved in dogs. Mom raised three children as a single mother in the late 60’s which was not easy and she had the help of her friends to keep one of them focused on dogs, myself.

I started in 4-H as well as AKC with my mother’s German Shepherds and our lovely mutts. I was taken under Sally Bishop’s wing (Fox Meadow German Shepherds and Pembroke Welsh Corgis) that had me showing a number of her GSDS and PWC in my teen years and several other people. I considered Sally my second mother. We could write a couple of chapters on that relationship.

What made us know that this was where we belonged? John had just a genetic link to be involved in dogs. He was employed for several years in the car industry during his time as a handler.

I have a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon in Political Science and a minor in Rhetoric and Communication. To pay for tuition and living expenses I worked full time and part time for Fred Meyer and showed dogs for a small number of people (German Shepherds and Pembroke Welsh Corgis). After my graduation from the University of Oregon I spent time within the State of Washington Employment Security in several positions. To make a long story short I was recruited into three different technical companies. The last company I worked for asked me to be available 24/7. My statement in that meeting was, “I work to live, not live to work”. Eventually this was not where I wanted to be. I was fired from the job.

John and I had been married for six months and looked at each other and said what do we know best, “DOGS”. We bought a boarding, grooming and training kennel, which is an addition to us show dogs professionally. Our facility is called Win-Star Bed & Biscuit.

Who were our mentors? Well, the mentors are so many that I know we would miss several. John’s list is long and well known, just a few are Porter Washington, Phoebe Stewart, Dr. Charles Kruger and of course his parents Hank and Janet Wilcox.

Mine are people that would not be recognizable with the exception of Sally Bishop and Dr. Charles Kruger.

Do we breed? We breed Papillons and Pembroke Welsh Corgis under the prefix of Jareaux (pronounced Jarow). Janet made us promise that we would carry on the kennel name of Jareaux. It is a combination of John’s Maternal and Paternal Grandfathers names.

Do we like to stick to any particular breed or group? About the only group we don’t show a number of dogs in is the Terrier group. I really prefer the dogs that I’m able to groom and have a good knowledge of.

How do we travel to shows? We have used several different vehicles as forms of transportation. Currently we use a 40ft motorhome. This is our preference for several reasons. One being in the same space as the dogs and the additional rest we get at the shows.

How many shows do we attend in the average year? Boy, I don’t think I want to know the real answer to this one. Probably about 100 plus per year.

The best thing about being a professional handler? When I was young it was the challenge, the competition and the travel. Now I would say the relationship with the dogs and achieving our
client’s goals.

The toughest part about being a handler? Keeping the life balance. Since we also have a boarding kennel, we work seven days a week. I used to love the travel, but it has become more difficult due to traffic, distance and safety for all concerned.

Is our family involved? John has one daughter and she is not involved in the business. I never had children.

Are we involved with an all-breed club? Yes, John has been a part of Seattle Kennel Club since the 1970. I’m also a member of the Seattle Kennel Club for the past 17 years.

Have we held positions within the club? John has held several positions including a few years as President. My current position is President for the past four years.

What can Clubs do to make handlers’ job easier? This is a loaded question. Being closely involved with the Seattle Kennel Club, we see all sides of our sport. I think handlers need to consider what they can do to help clubs make the clubs jobs easier. Clubs also need to consider what they can do to make the breeders and owner handlers want to continue to participate.

Finding appropriate venues for the size, comfort and financial success for all involved is becoming more difficult. Seattle Kennel Club has had to leave the city venue due to the increased costs that could not be covered with the revenue from our show.

What can Clubs do to make handlers want to enter? Making the parking and grooming are comfortable keeps most of us happy. I go back to the handlers need to be more understanding of club’s limitations and spend some time assisting the clubs.

The most amusing thing we’ve ever witnessed at a dog show? I have a picture of a streaker (for those that didn’t grow up in the 60s and 70s a nude runner) running through the Best in Show ring. The following people are in the lineup as handlers, Porter Washington, Houston Clark and the streaker. You can’t read what was written on her back side in red. Maybe Houston Clark recalls what was written.

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