As owner-handlers, and many of us owner-breeder-handlers, do know a lot. More often we know more than any pro-handler does, but certainly don’t give ourselves credit.
When I first announced that I would be having a handler on ringside pickup, a friend and BC mentor, laughed at me. “Why would you do that?” she asked. My response was simple, “To get done [meaning winning] what I can’t seem to do in the ring.” She, being much more seasoned to showing, I’m sure, knew what the evitable was about to be. But being supportive, never questioned my intentions again, but would occasionally “jab” at me about it.
Whether intentional or not, her jabs often made me think. She would continue to tell me, control what you can and the rest is up to the judge.
What I can control is what I “know”. So what do I know? I know that I am a good handler….well at least when I can keep the nerves at bay….I will save that for another day. I know that I can groom….and a crazy groomer I am and truth be told the worse the nerves the more I groom, again another day. I know my dog. I know when she is having a good day and I know when she is having a bad one. I know how to react to the mood swings. I know what bait my dogs love. I know what my dog’s strengths and faults are and how to make the most of them in the ring. I know my breed standard. I know how to dress and act the part. I know I practice and groom at home. I know what coat products to use when it’s July and humid and I know when I’ve over-groomed and I stand there and cuss. I know most dog show people are genuinely good and would help you if you just ask. I know dog showing is fun!
And most importantly I know, I love my dog, win or lose.
Can any pro-handlers say that they know all those things about the dogs they are handling?
We owner-handlers (-breeders) “know” a lot. Take the advice that was given to me….control what you can. Or better yet, take my advice, control what you know. If you don’t know, ask. Empower yourself to learn more. Be better. Don’t give that judge one opportunity to not look at you!