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 Brian Livingston
- I am 19 years old and grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I am the only one who shows dogs in my family, but I have a very supportive mother who also shares a love of dogs. I started showing Labradors when I was 9 and very quickly became interested in other breeds, handling and grooming. I have always enjoyed dogs, and this sport gave me an opportunity to do more with them.
- I have worked for Ed Thomason, Randy Schepper and Luke Baggenstos in the past. I currently work for Brian Livingston. I can’t thank all of them enough for the opportunities, experiences and knowledge they have given me.
- I am in a live-in position.
- The best thing for me is being able to learn from them and hear their stories from past shows.
- Winning Best Junior Handler at the Garden under Mrs. Jennifer Pahl and winning my first Best in Show with Amstaff GCh. Alpine’s Highwayman, ‘Jelly,’ under Mrs. Lee Canalizo. They are both unforgettable moments in my life.
- I have only heard stories about the way the sport used to be. It is disappointing that so much has been lost over the years.
- We should never stop giving back to the dogs or the sport that we all love so much. It is everyone’s responsibility. More interactive events after Best in Show to bring everyone together, breed mentoring and breed seminars is a start.
- The movie Best in Show.
- Yes, it is. I understand the time, work and sacrifices that need to be made. But I love the dogs and enjoy it.
From the 2014 Annual issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine.