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 Kara Smith
- I am a 17-year-old senior. I was born and have lived in Rush Springs, Okla., my entire life. My mom breeds German Shepherds, so I do come from a dog family. I am currently trying to show my 11-year-old brother the ropes in the dog show world.
- I’ve worked for Kari Smith for many years, and I’ve traveled with Clint Livingston a couple of times.
- It was not live-in; I stayed at my house in Rush Springs.
- Getting to meet all of the different people and just being with the dogs.
- It would probably be when I got my first Group placement.
- Sometimes, when you’re doing really well and you’re winning a lot, you get a big head and think you should win every time. I think I did this a lot and let myself down a lot.
- It shouldn’t be so dang political.
- A lot of people think that the professional handlers are just in it for the money, and they don’t care about the dogs or the quality of the dogs. And I know first-hand that is not true. The handlers love each and every one of their dogs, they do care about the clients and they love what they do.
- It is not. I would love to have dogs of my own to show when I graduate college, but I don’t think I want to do it full-time.
From the 2014 Annual issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine.