The Underdogs of Westminster

Three owner-handlers recount their experiences at the most prestigious dog show in the country.

To the dog-show newbie, it can be difficult to tell an Afghan Hound from a Saluki, or a Puli from a Komondor.

And perhaps even less obvious are the different categories of humans at the other end of the leash, arguably the noblest of which is the owner-handler. Unlike professional handlers, who are paid to condition, train, and exhibit their clients’ dogs, owner-handlers show the dogs who crowd their couches and command their hearts. Most have no financial incentive when they walk inside a show ring — just the desire to present their own dog to his best advantage, and maybe win some ribbons in the process.

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