DANELINKS.COM                                                                                                                                       1.1.06 


by Fay Rogstad
Sumner Great Danes


"The story of an OWNER/HANDLER and TOP BILL"

O/H had decided she would like to owner handle her beautiful show dog. They have been working hard to enter into this new exciting venture. Now the time feels right to enter the shows.

The first show weekend arrives and O/H has been busy all week, being careful not to cram all of her preparations into the night before the show, as trying to keep this venture as stress free and relaxing as possible for her and her dog.

O/H arrives at the show grounds and has planned her trip so she has at least an hour before the scheduled show time to exercise her dog and make sure he is relaxed and comfortable. Then O/H proceeds to ringside to observe the judge officiating and to become aware of his ring procedure. Checking the catalog she realizes that TOP BILL, the Professional Handler, is entered and has a dog in her class. A great urge to panic comes over O/H but she steps back and thinks through the situation. O/H tells herself, I have worked hard in training, conditioning and educating myself and YES I can do this.

It is time.  The steward is calling O/Hs class into the ring. Even though Top Bill is in the same class O/H walks into the ring happy, confident, and maintains a GREAT attitude because she is aware any emotion she is feeling can affect her dogs performance. The judge has examined O/Hs dog and she is feeling wonderful about her dog's performance. While the other dogs in the class are being judged, O/H is still keeping herself aware of everything going on.  Also, possibly the judge could be taking quick glances at the end of the line where she is now, so she keeps her dog alert and happy  so hopefully it will present a good picture if the judge should glance her way.

Time for the class placements and O/H wins 2nd in a class of 6 and Top Bill wins 1st.

Is O/H disappointed..... yes, but that does not stop her from saying congrats to Top Bill, Great class win!

As O/H leaves the ring she still has a good feeling that her dogs performance was good and that they were a great team out there and it was a wonderful experience. Her friend however, came rushing up to her, telling her that it was a shame she got beat by Top Bill and not the dog he was handling.  That opinion does not influence O/H at all, in fact she told her friend she was pleased with her performance,  that tomorrow is another day and asks her friend to join her ringside to watch the rest of the judging.  As O/H wanted to take in everything she could and especially to watch Top Bill and the other Professionals out there, observing their handling techniques, stacking, moving, and even how the handlers present themselves. O/H knows that you can always learn.

I have written the story of O/H and Top Bill to hopefully bring across the point that entering the dog show world can be a positive, fun, adventure for everyone. It is like any sport with all the different players, but it is what you make of it and the willingness to keep learning and setting goals for yourself. Owner Handlers are a very important part of the dog shows; always remember, it is a competition, and yes, we have our off days but when you win it is the best feeling there is.

Personally I have finished four Great Danes owner handled, including handling my dog to WD at the 1996 GDCA National, pointed some others and also have finished 3 Vizslas . It is great and yes, I have Top Bill show my dogs too. And an interesting twist is, with Top Bill on my dogs they sometimes have been beaten by Owner Handlers.

There will always be the Top Bill out there in the ring with the Owner Handler but with education, good sportsmanship, a great attitude, and respect it can be fun and a wonderful experience for everyone involved.
Good Luck to all of the Owner Handlers and Top Bills out there in 2006. Lets all have a Great time and learn from each other and keep our sport enjoyable and rewarding.

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