In today’s entry, a companion to our earlier piece “The Types of People Who Do Agility” , we will walk you through some of the most common types of people you will encounter in the conformation world.
Easily recognizable by their pant-suits and haggard demeanor, the owner-handler is the bread and butter on the AKC’s plate of money making ventures. Not to be confused with the Breeder Owner Handler, the Owner-Handler owns the dog outright and puts points on their dog the old-fashioned way… dumb luck. And like training, presentation, and having a nice dog and all. These are the people you need to buy a drink. They’re supposed to have done the work themselves, and if they really have? Rain-check. They’re exhausted.
Breeder Owner Handler
The Breeder-Owner-Handler, has a similar status as the owner-handler. Unlike the OH however, the BOH rarely if ever actually lives with the dog in question. Instead, they pawn the dog off on a poor unsuspecting puppy buyer and Co-own till the dog is finished and occasionally bred. These people are more easily spotted by watching the edge of the ring for the dog’s actual owners. They can usually be seen peeking out behind poles and talking about how cute Pookie is.
You absolutely cannot miss the pro-handler. They are the least flustered people in the ring. Every movement is smooth and designed to highlight the strong points of their dog… at least the good ones. When not performing a figure skating routine with their dog (your dog, Martha Stewart’s dog… whatever) they can be seen shouting at their legion of lackeys and storming around their RV, looking for their perfect sequin jacket to match the sensible pumps.
The Assistant Handler
Less polished than their employers above, the assistant handler is the “alternate”. They are brought in when the Pro has another (better paying) dog in the same class. You can spot them by looking for the person that looks like they have just been shouted at/ is about to be shouted at.
What do Martha Stewart and Bill Cosby have in common (besides being really really rich)? They both own champion show dogs. While Martha loves Chows and Bill has a soft spot for Dandie Dinmonts, both celebrities have been involved in the dog world for years and have both had dogs compete at Westminster. With money to spare, rich folk can hire the best of the best to show their dogs (see pro handler above). You will very rarely see a Rich Folk-type at a run of the mill dog show but they can often be spotted in the stands at the big events, like Westminster or Eukanuba.
Money can’t buy class, but it can buy you a gold-plated Chow
My Kid Outgrew 4-H
These people have gotten in way too deep. It started with the kid taking Scruffy to the local fair and now they’ve spent the kid’s inheritance campaigning their first homebred champion. The kids are often not seen anywhere near a dog show once they graduate out of juniors. “County fairs: where you can find both Junior Handlers and Deep Fried Butter”
Cross-over Sports People
It starts out so innocently. You have such a nice dog and you want another from the breeder who you have stayed close with all these years, showing your dog in your sport of choice. The breeder is elated! They’ve got the perfect puppy for you, they had planned on keeping him themselves. If you agree to show him, he’s yours. How hard can it be? Way less training than the sport you’re already successful in. You’ve just gotta wear a skirt suit for a few weekends, take a few grooming lessons from the breeder, simple right? Now you’re hooked, you poor schmuck. Might invest in a panel van and a bumper sticker that says “A Well Balanced Dog Has Titles on Both Ends”.
Fabulous Gay Men
Think Stefan and Scott from “Best in Show” (sidenote: if you haven’t seen this movie, you seriously need to re-evaluate your life). With immaculately groomed dogs and properly fitted suits, Fabulous Gay Men are a staple in the conformation world.
The Intrepid Breeder
“For the good of the breed.” is their mantra and it’s what gets them out there every weekend, showing their own dogs. They spend money to show the dogs, so they can spend money to breed the dogs so they can MAYBE break even. We’re pretty sure this is the actual definition of insanity.
The Rank Novice
You can spot them from a mile away, but no one is really sure how they got there. They’ve got the wrong shoes, the wrong clothes, the wrong dog even. They thought it’d be a fun lark to enter. Now they are in the ring and you can see the “Oh, Shit!” look on their face. Their dog won’t stack, they’ve realized the fashion faux pas of wearing pants that match the dog, and you can tell… they are never coming back. Until next weekend.