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Dog Shows: A Professional Sport

by Merv Perry

0F COURSE it is! 

The professional handlers would like it to be, a growing number of owners think it already is, and the judges say their job would be a lot easier if it were. But is it really?

The economics of dog showing make it impossible for all but the wealthy owner-handlers to campaign a dog for a full year. Most handlers will tell you that most of their clients are people of modest means who just happen to have an exceptional dog. They simply can't afford to be away for the time required.

When you hire a handler you're hiring a lot more than a hand to hold the leash, or a face to show the judge. You're hiring a whole support system for your dog. The handler and his assistants are your dog's nutritionist, his groomer, his trainer, his advertising agent, and his pals. Good handlers are proud of their dogs and lose a lot of sleep if' one of their charges isn't feeling just fight. A good handler has to be a foster parent who's there to help your dog show himself off to his very best advantage.

Owner-handlers (often breeders) seem to feel they are at a disadvantage when they encounter a professional handler in the ring. "He knows this judge, they've been friends for years." True, they may be friends, but if the handler knows the judge he better he showing the judge exactly what that judge is looking fun He's probably in big trouble if he isn't.

Breeders are the group that really influence what dogs do what at any dog show. They have the distinct advantage of knowing exactly what's right and what's wrong with their breed and their dogs. The breeders are the ones who supplied the dogs for the professional handle- to show before they became judges. They supplied the breed knowledge that judge has and, after all, the breeders wrote the standard.

Why, then, do owner-handlers feel the professional has the advantage? A judge can only judge what he sees. They get quite discouraged when they can't put up what they think is a nice dog because the breeder-owner won't show the dog. Just once it would be nice to see a class in the ring where every dog was presented perfectly.

The next time you leave the ring, ask yourself, "Did my dog look the  best I could help him to look?"


Copyright © 1999 (Merv Perry)
All rights reserved.

 
 
   


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Last revised: November 11, 2010