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A Helping Hand

No matter how you’re involved in dog shows, I think we can all agree on one thing: “The more the merrier.” This is especially true for those traveling to shows every week with a big string of dogs.

Of course the people at the top of that list are the Professional Handlers. But whether you’re a professional, a breeder-owner-handler, a junior handler or training and breeding at home, it’s always nice to have a helping hand.

So, what title is most common for these wonderful people helping out? There seem to be a few, including assistant, apprentice, professional pooper scooper, and, yes, even “Bucket Bitch.” No matter what the title is, this role is one of the most important to play in the dog show scene! Without a reliable support team, success in this game would be much harder to come by.

As BISD Editor-in-Chief Dan Sayers mentioned in his Daily Diary for most of us the dog show calendar is a little backward, Friday seems to be Monday and Monday is more like Saturday. Not to mention the early mornings and late nights. You find yourself exhausted at the end of a show weekend, only to start it all over again when you wake up the next day.

In my experience, it’s all about having a routine that works best for you. Mine goes a little something like this: Get to the show & set up, let the dogs out, clean crates, change beds, feed dogs, wash buckets & bowls, scoop the poop, kiss the dogs, walk the dogs, do daily “show-like” stuff, jump through hoops, tear down, drive drive drive, and repeat! Now let’s just pray you have time for a Starbucks somewhere in there!

Most importantly though, while all of that is happening, you get to meet many great people along the way and learn the art, yes, the art, of showing dogs. With hard work and honesty, most show days go by with ease and a smile on your face!

For all you junior handlers out there assisting professional handlers, I would like to stress the importance of prioritizing. I remember when I felt like it was an impossible task to assist and be able to make my juniors ring without messing up the whole schedule. Of course, you never know how the schedule will end up, but the best advice is to “look at the big picture.” It’s so important to know what your highest priority is, considering both your juniors class and your clients’ dogs. I definitely recommend sitting down and chatting with your handler before every show (because we all know things can become hectic very quickly at the show). That way everybody is on the same track!

I give major props to everyone who gives that extra effort and a helping hand to those in need, because let’s face it: it’s not always easy. But at the end of the day, the experiences gained during the process are priceless!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"
  • Julie Bertagnolli January 19, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    Couldn’t have said it better great job!!!!!

  • leahb
    Leah B January 21, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Another great Blog… and Starbucks thanks you! ;0)

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