Talking to the Professional Handlers...
Professional handlers are an inescapable fact of the world of American show dogs today — more so, probably, than anywhere else in the world. Quite possibly the American dog show world could not function without them: the shows are so far apart and involve so much driving and time away from home that most of us need the assistance that professional handlers can provide if we want our dogs to get the exposure they deserve.
Through their profession, professional handlers are by definition high profile, visible and known at least by face to most dog fanciers. We see them winning in the ring or rushing from one breed to another, usually calm, cool and as immaculately turned out as the dogs they show. The best ones serve as role models for the rest of us, displaying a degree of professionalism, sportsmanship and care for the dogs in their charge that only a few can hope to attain.
Nevertheless, many aspects of the professional handlers’ lives remain unknown to those of us who have not worked as (or for) one. How did they start, how many shows do they go to and how many dogs can they show? Who decides where the dogs are shown and how do they handle conflicts between their clients’ (or their own) dogs? What does it cost to have a professional handler show your dog? What kinds of changes would the handlers most like to see in the dog show world?
In an effort to find out just what’s involved in maintaining a professional handler’s business, Dogs in Review sent questions to a number of professional handlers. We were overwhelmed by the response and surprised by some of them. (You will find, for instance, that even many of the professional handlers, who at least in theory would benefit most from them, feel there are far too many dog shows these days!)
Thanks to all the handlers who took time out of their busy schedules to respond to our questions. In a future issue of DR, we’ll be talking to the people who hire professional handlers — the clients.
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