Meet the Handlers' Assistants: Lauren Lavitt
Meet Lauren Lavitt, a dog handler's assistant, and learn about her background in life and dogs.
Allan Reznik |
Posted: Mar 14, 2014 8 a.m. PST
Our sport is rich in noble traditions. Among the strongest is that of hard-working assistants apprenticing for successful professional handlers in the fancy. Anyone with stars in their eyes about a life of glamour is quickly disabused of those notions when they learn that the dogs always come first for top handlers and that partying is never a job perk. Many handlers' assistants aspire to stay in the sport and strike out on their own one day. Others are happy to remain exhibitors while pursuing other career paths. We reached out to handlers' assistants to get better acquainted. — Allan Reznik
- Briefly tell us about your background, including your age, where you grew up, if you came from a doggy family and if you have siblings who also show dogs.
- If you didn't come from a family that showed dogs, where did your interest begin?
- What handlers have you worked for in the past, and for whom are you working now?
- Is this a live-in position, or do you live elsewhere during the week?
- What are some of the best things about being a handler's assistant?
- What has been the most memorable moment in your dog-showing career?
- What was the greatest disappointment?
- How could the sport be improved?
- What's the biggest misconception about professional handlers?
- Is your goal to go out on your own and become a full-time professional handler one day?
Assistant for Peter and Valerie Atkinson
- I was born and raised in Southern California and am 20 years old. Before I was born, my mom had two German Shorthaired Pointers, one of which Valerie Nunes-Atkinson showed. I grew up with Rottweilers that my mom trained in obedience; then we got involved in Standard Schnauzers (two of which we still have today). She would bring me to the shows with her, and I quickly fell in love with the sport. I showed my first dog for a friend of my mom's when I was 9 years old. Then at 10 I began showing in Juniors. I showed a variety of breeds throughout my Juniors career: my Standard Schnauzer, an English Pointer and a German Shorthaired Pointer. When I was 14, I won Best Junior Handler at WKC under esteemed judge Mr. Edd Bivin. My sister also showed in Juniors for several years, primarily handling Maltese and our Brussels Griffon.
- I've worked for Peter and Valerie Atkinson for the past nine years.
- Currently, I do not live with them; I travel to local shows on the weekends. Previously I was working on a more full-time basis. I am currently a full-time student at Cal State Fullerton, so that limits my working time a lot.
- I can't say enough about how wonderful working for Peter and Valerie has been. I have learned a tremendous amount from them, and continue to learn new things each and every time we're at a show. I came to them at such a young age; all I knew about dogs was that I loved them! They have taught me everything involved in the show world, from the hands-on presentation side to the more technical side of things. Each and every dog is different, and I've learned how to see these differences in each dog. They have also taught me a lot about animal husbandry, and the care and well-being of each dog is our top priority. Lastly, I've learned a lot about how to run a business and keep clients happy.
- I have had a lot of great experiences throughout my rather short time involved in the sport. The most memorable moment for me was when I went Best Junior at WKC. It was so surreal it still gives me goose bumps thinking about it. I was still very young, 14, and there were quite a few wonderful handlers who were much older than me and more experienced; I was very shocked. I still relive that moment often!
- It is always sad when great dogs leave at the end of their career or when they grow old and pass away. I'm very lucky to be involved with each and every one of the dogs we show, past and present.
- I think that we can improve our methods of approving judges. I think the system should be more rigorous; that would help ensure that we only have the best and most qualified experts in our sport judging.
- The biggest misconception that I can think of is the stereotype that professional handlers aren't approachable. I used to think that as well before I became an assistant to two, and through them have become great friends with numerous handlers. I think that many of them are very friendly and try to help out owner-handlers or breeders as much as they can.
- Yes, my goal is to become a full-time professional handler once I've graduated college.
- More Handlers' Assistants -
From the 2014 Annual issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine.
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