Handlers & Milo's Great to be Eight Party

After I helped Mac get his Versatility Dog Excellent award by training and showing him to two open level performance titles, someone mentioned some hard feelings about the fact that Mac's owner did not earn those titles with him -- as if it was somehow cheating or unfair to have someone like me do the working titles for the award. My response was something like: HUH?!

So let me get this straight, I wanted to say -- it is okay for you to use a handler to get the CH/GCH on your dogs but working titles must be earned by the dog's owner??? HUH?!

I am super proud that my own dogs have titles in lots of things, including conformation, and that I have handled them in everything. But some dogs need a handler advantage because of the dog and/or because the owner simply does not have the time/inclination/skill to do it herself. There is no shame in any of that.

As you probably know, I am not always a fan of professional handlers. I was not born that way, just in case you were wondering. Instead, I have developed an opinion after years of watching them with their clients and the dogs they show. And consider that I continually filter what I see and hear through two types of expertise -- an understanding of people and an understanding of dogs/training.

Going forward, my puppy contracts will state that any decision about a handler on a Kaibab dog must be a shared one. I will not be able to insist on a handler that a puppy owner finds objectionable, and a puppy owner will not be able to force my name on a handler I find unacceptable. If respect for my opinion/feelings cannot be freely given, then it will be a contract term. I feel that strongly about this issue.

If the choice is no championship or an unacceptable handler, the championship can go right out the window. The dog matters more than a title, and so does my peace of mind. Further, I respect my puppy owners enough not to insist they place beloved dogs with a handler they would find hard on the heart --  but it needs to go both ways, based on shared love for a dog, and respect for the feelings of the people involved.

In May Holden Squeaker will be shown by Michelle Scott, a person Toby has known for years. I watched Michelle carefully at the Specialty and I was with her in a couple of classes. She has none of that smooth salesperson crap common to so many professional handlers and has a gentleness with people and dogs that I found endearing. I am glad she is the one who will show Holden.

So you see -- I can and do approve of some handlers. Just not ones who abuse dogs and/or make me want to take a shower. If that makes me an unreasonable person/breeder -- so be it.


Milo had a Great to be Eight party today with his friends!!!! Make sure and check out Thing 1 and Thing 2 ;)

The guest of honor -- Milo at eight!

Thanks to Sue for the extra fun pictures )



by Brody on Sat, 04/26/2014 - 12:22

I am sorry you are having to go through so much anguish these past days and weeks. I don't think and have never thought you are an unreasonable person or breeder (we call you our "advocate" rather than breeder). I am grateful we have you. I think that having a clause in new puppy contracts addressing a shared decision on handlers is a good and reasonable way to address this issue. XOXO
PS: Nikko sends hugs and tailwags. :)

by Kathy L on Sat, 04/26/2014 - 13:22

I don't have a problem with that clause either. I could never turn my dog over to just anyone. That is so odd that people would object to someone other than the owner earning working titles. There are certain dog sports that can be difficult for some of us. Ava might be an agility star but I may not be able to keep up with her. Though we have only tried tracking several times she is a natural. But she is fast!!!' At everything !!!! I am an old lady with two fake knees. I will do my best to keep up with her and to train her to slow down a bit. I definitely want to train her and try my best to be the one earning titles with her. But if I can't compete, should that mean she can't compete?

by Jill on Sat, 04/26/2014 - 19:41

What a great party photo! And handsome Milo!

by Marianne AZ on Sat, 04/26/2014 - 20:30

Having had the experience of showing dogs, I'm pretty sure saying someone has "hard feelings" (in this situation) ... sounds more like jealously to me. ... me shaking my head...

by Barbz on Sat, 04/26/2014 - 22:05

Oh wow! Love the great to be 8 pictures! Looks like a really fun party. And I am coveting those costumes..

by Sue on Sun, 04/27/2014 - 05:06

Barb Z I sent the picture of the group dressed up thinking specifically of you!

by Toby E on Sun, 04/27/2014 - 06:58

Nora (who turned 8 on Monday ) just saw the party photo. She's packing her bags now and just put Milo's address into her GPS. She said the steak cooked to perfection on the BBQ and the cupcake weren't enough. I'll be sending out the "Save the Date " cards shortly for her 9th birthday party :)
And yes, Michelle and Holden will be an item starting next week. It's a decision I thought long and hard about. It will always be a ringside hand-off situation, and I'll always be there, well as close as I can get. I already have 3 friends ready to watch and film in two of the shows next week....I love Michelle's calm, gentle demeanor and I've known her since 1987 when I got my first Berner, Baxter, fm her mom, Lilian Ostermiller. The entire family is responsible for my involvement with the breed, and somehow it all seems cosmically right that Michelle will be showing my baby. I'm very comfortable with the choice and also trust Holden's instinct as he loved Michelle within 20 seconds of meeting her. I have been telling lots of dog friends that Holden will be shown by her, and every single person has gotten a smile on their face and said how wonderful she is.-not a single negative comment...not even close. So hopefully next week we'll have some fun news to report, that is If Mr Mama's boy can get over the temporary separation :)

by Katie S on Sun, 04/27/2014 - 12:18

While I always show my own dogs because I enjoy it and love the whole process of training, grooming and being in the ring with them and because financially my husband sees no point in paying someone else thousands of dollars to do something that I can do, I have thought once or twice about hiring someone if I were injured etc and then I realized there really aren't many handlers at all who I would let take my dog in the ring but if I did hire someone it would be Michelle. She is calm gentle and patient even with scared or misbehaving dogs. She is gracious when she wins and when she doesn't. Wonderful choice.

by Jennifer Z on Sun, 04/27/2014 - 17:22

I love the photos-what fun! And, I couldn't agree more in your choice of a handler for Holden Toby. Looking forward to show pictures of the handsome man soon!

by SharonM on Sun, 04/27/2014 - 20:41

Happy Birthday handsome Milo, and my, what big mitts you have!!

And funny - I had just commented on an earlier post that my next contract will be different, and then it had already been mentioned here! I'm a day or more late, as usual! Although I guess it should be a pretty obvious conclusion to reach. Just be sure to specify the consequences for not adhering to the contract agreement that the dog only be shown by a handler acceptable to both co-owners - because that tends to make it more enforceable.

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