Insights from an Owner Handler Trish Hartzell

Owner Handler Trish Hartzell with her Miniature Schnauzer


Interview with an Owner Handler, Trish Hartzell


Where do I live? How many years have I been an Owner Handler?

Trish Hartzell: I live in Francis, Utah, a rural farming town outside of Park City, Utah. I have been an Owner Handler for two years.


How did I get my start in my breed? In the sport?

Trish Hartzell: I have had Miniature Schnauzers my entire adult life. The love came from a dance choreographer who would bring his Mini Schnauzer to rehearsals on Saturdays. I never knew how to get started or where to look for a mentor.

Two and a half years ago, at a local dog show, I inquired for directions from someone who could direct me in getting started. I was introduced to my now mentor and breeder, Carma Ewer. The rest is history. My mentor has given me hundreds of hours, coaching and teaching me how to groom, and traveling to shows.


Have I always loved to show dogs? Have I always been a dog person?

Trish Hartzell: Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with watching the dog shows and being mesmerized with all the beautiful coats. I think my love of dogs—and sports cars—came from my father who passed away when I was three. My dog’s call name is “Maserati!”


Is there a story behind my decision to show my own dog?

Trish Hartzell: Yes. I want to be a respected exhibitor, and eventually, a breeder. I felt that the best way for me to have a complete understanding and working knowledge was to learn everything from start to finish: Start – Breeding for optimal dogs that meet Breed Standard; Finish – The end product in the ring. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful mentor who continues to guide me through the process.


What makes showing my own dog so special to me?

Trish Hartzell: Showing my own dog is special through overcoming all the challenges, from grooming to presenting my dog. I am a left-brained person. I had to activate my right brain when it came to stripping and scissoring; “creating the look.” I now take pride in knowing that I can groom and create a Miniature Schnauzer and present her to her best in the show ring.


In my opinion, is there a secret to having a great dog/handler partnership?

Trish Hartzell: The secret is to make it fun for your dog. Praise and celebrate outside and inside the show ring. When other Owner Handlers ask me how I get my dog to do things, I tell them: “We are with our dogs 24 hours a day and we know our dogs better than anyone. Use the same words and phrases you use outside the ring. Don’t change how you interact with your dog in the show ring because it will be foreign and confusing to your dog.”


Do I compete in the National Owner-Handled Series? If so, for how many years?

Trish Hartzell: Yes. As of December, I have competed in the National Owner-Handled Series for two years.


What goals did I set for myself and for my dog in 2022? What about 2023?

Trish Hartzell: At the beginning of 2022, I set a goal to work for and earn a Grand Championship on my dog. By May 2022, I set a goal to be in the Top 10 for NOHS. WE CAME IN AT NO. 3!

My goal for 2023 is to work hard and possibly go to Westminster, start my new pup, “Bugatti,” and hopefully, have a litter with my foundation bitch.


Am I going to Orlando? If so, what’s it like to have a top NOHS dog this year?

Trish Hartzell: It feels INCREDIBLE! I cannot explain how rewarding and validating it is to see that all of the hard work has come together; my dog has been noticed and promoted. At the first of the year, I had some personal things happen that I thought were going to derail life in general. My little Maserati showed me that there are more facets to life, and to embrace what is working.

I would tell someone new, who is thinking about getting into dog shows, that it is never too late to follow your dream. There are three things you must have:

  • A Great Mentor
  • A Good Dog
  • Commitment and Determination

Enjoy the journey and the wonderful people you meet. You may even have an experience like mine: I met a fellow breeder and exhibitor of Miniature Schnauzers who was adopted, and we found out that we were biological cousins.


Just for laughs, do I have a funny story that I can share about my experiences as an Owner Handler?

Trish Hartzell: I have so many funny stories as a new exhibitor. This is a little embarrassing to tell, but I had assumed that all of the Judges were retired and donated their time to judging because they loved dogs. I’ve thanked many judges for their time in the ring.

  • I live in Francis, Utah, a rural farming town outside of Park City, Utah. I have been an Owner Handler for two years.

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