|Being a Well-rounded Competitor and Ambassador of the Sport
By Lee Herr, Executive Field Representative, American Kennel Club
Handling is more than just winning; just as a Handler is not a person who just shows a dog. A Handler is a well rounded competitor familiar with all facets of the Sport. Handlers are Ambassadors for the Sport. This is also true of Junior Handlers. A well rounded competitor’s understanding of the Sport is built on diverse experiences acquiring expertise in the skills necessary to organize a successful event. Understanding the roles of the individuals working very hard to ensure the show goes off as planned can only make you as a handler more effective.
The best way to gain an understanding of how an event is organized, before, during and after, is to be involved in the process. Many kennel clubs offer Junior memberships making it possible for Juniors to gain first hand knowledge. However, most clubs’ would happily welcome non-member volunteers willing to help. This is an excellent opportunity to learn what it takes to organize a successful event. You may become involved in the set-up of the show site or grooming area, experience what it’s like to be at the front gate or park cars, or what it’s like to help regulate the unloading area, or, you may assist with judge’s hospitality. Learning how to ring steward is an excellent way to learn correct ring & judging procedures. Ring stewarding will give you a good understanding of the importance of having the correct armband number for the dog you are exhibiting and observe how easily it is for recording errors to happen. (Furthermore, experience as a ring steward is a requirement if you plan to someday judge.) Involvement with your kennel club may eventually lead to being a Show Chair, coordinating a judging panel and participation in the hiring of judges.
Give it a try. It’s fun & exciting. The lessons learned are priceless. More importantly….you’ll know the answers to all the questions: Why do I have to park here?…Why is the grooming area over there?.... Why can’t I unload here?... Why aren’t there more tents?.... Why can’t I put crates there? Ultimately this knowledge will lead to better experiences for you, your dogs and greater success.