Why I’m an Owner-Handler

To handle your own dog, or hire a professional? That is the question (which we’ve asked before), but not for these Owner-Handlers who took the time to answer a few questions to help us understand what it’s like to show your own dog.

Lisa Leady

Lisa Leady | Smooth Fox TerrierWe live in Genoa, Illinois. I have had Smooth Fox for 28 years. All my life my family bred and showed Borzoi.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Grooming seminars and teaching other groomers to improve their skills. I judge grooming competitions all over the world.

How long have I been competing as an owner-handler? I have always been an owner-handler, but I started competing in the Novice Owner-Handled Series since it started.

Have I taken handling classes or attended seminars on handling? Yes to all! It is a wonderful way to hone your skills. I have also taken private handling lessons.

Do I compete in the AKC National Owner-Handled Series? Yes.

What are my thoughts about competing with professional handlers? On the one hand, I love the challenge, it makes me try harder. On the other hand, it is very hard to beat the professionals.

Who are my role models when it comes to showing dogs? Karen Fitzpatrick, Lee Whittier, and Norma Smith.

Do I prefer to compete at specialties or at all-breed shows? Both.

Does the future look bright for owner-handlers? I would like to think that it does.

Laurel Medley

I live in Dunnellon, Florida. My breed is Vizslas and I’ve been in dogs for 14 years.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Who has the time?

How long have I been competing as an owner-handler? I’ve competed as an owner-handler since 2008.

Have I taken handling classes or attended seminars on handling? Yes, I’ve taken handling classes.

Do I compete in the AKC National Owner-Handled Series? Yes.

What are my thoughts about competing with professional handlers? I do okay.

Who are my role models when it comes to showing dogs? My role models are the owners and handlers who exhibit grace
and kindness.

Do I prefer to compete at specialties or at all-breed shows? I compete at both.

Does the future look bright for owner-handlers? Of course!

The funniest thing I’ve ever experienced as an owner-handler? My first time ever showing a dog, I tried to give back some of the ribbons. I thought the judge had given me too many.

Jeanne Romanello

I live in Fort Myers, Florida. I have Brussels Griffon, and have been in dogs for 20-plus years.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? I enjoy beach time and traveling.

How long have I been competing as an owner-handler? I have competed as an owner-handler for two years now.

Have I taken handling classes or attended seminars on handling? Yes! I take classes that are offered from my kennel club, the Greater Fort Myers Kennel Club.

Do I compete in the AKC National Owner-Handled Series? Yes, I compete in the NOHS with my Brussels Griffon, Corky.

What are my thoughts about competing with professional handlers? I do not mind at all. I feel very confident and have had great mentors to teach me. I really enjoy showing with professional handlers as I know my dog is as competitive as theirs.

Who are my role models when it comes to showing dogs? I have been lucky to have had some great role models, including Mark and Sally George (Sally bred Corky and is—and has always been—there for us), Barbara Kennan had taught me a lot when I was showing my Westie, and also some really awesome Griff breeders, Cheryl Stevens and Heather Stants. It’s so nice how they take the time to educate me in the breed.

Do I prefer to compete at specialties or at all-breed shows? I love doing both types, if the show is fun. Specialties are great; I love to see all the Griffs, and how everyone’s breeding program is doing. Also to learn more about the breed and talk to other breeders.

Does the future look bright for owner-handlers? Yes, I really think the owner-handler program will get bigger each year. It is so much fun showing with other owner-handlers and their
beautiful dogs.

The funniest thing I’ve ever experienced as an owner-handler? At her first show, my Standard Schnauzer, Lemme, jumped in the mud. (I’d decided to wear a light-colored dress.) Lemme decided that my dress needed muddy paw prints all over it just as we were getting ready to go into the ring.

Kent Weinheimer

I live in Holden, Massachusetts. I have an Australian Cattle Dog, Brisket, right now. He just turned 18 months old. I have had dogs most of my life, but I first started showing dogs about 12 years ago when I had Mastiffs.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? I enjoy riding motorcycles and driving my 1939 Chevy Pickup in my spare time.

How long have I been competing as an owner-handler? When I was showing Mastiffs, there was no owner-handled competition, so I have only been involved in the owner-handling competition for a year.

Have I taken handling classes or attended seminars on handling? I have taken handling classes at Champion Kennels in Sterling, Massachusetts. They have been very helpful in keeping me on track.

Do I compete in the AKC National Owner-Handled Series? I just started competing in the National Owner-Handled Series a year ago. Brisket just completed the 2020 year ranked #4 Australian Cattle Dog!

What are my thoughts about competing with professional handlers? I have no issues competing against professional handlers. Quite often you can pick-up things just by watching them.

Who are my role models when it comes to showing dogs? Over the years, I have been very lucky to have met some great professional and owner-handlers who have been very helpful and supportive. Also, Brisket’s breeder has been there with us every step of the way.

Do I prefer to compete at specialties or at all-breed shows? Brisket has done incredible at both specialties and all-breed shows. But the specialties are fun because of the number of dogs in your breed that are there.

Does the future look bright for owner-handlers? I think that the National Owner-Handled Series will continue because of the competition, camaraderie, and the friendships.

The funniest thing I’ve ever experienced as an owner-handler? The very first time I went into the ring with a dog; I was doing the down and back, and on the way back towards the judge, somehow the leash became unhooked and the dog trotted out of the ring.

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