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  • Need info on showing

    My daughter is 18 and has worked with me in my grooming shop for 7 years. She wants to get a job working with/for a show handler. Is this even possible? Can anyone give me any info on where she should start or how she should go about this.

    Thanks

  • #2
    Depends on the area and the handlers there and mostly if they need an assitant. She would be travelling every weekend and it is beyond long days and short nights when you travel with one not to mention the ****** dog show food.
    Never gonna know if you never even try

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    • #3
      I'm not sure if she would be able to find a job on the road with no show experience since show grooming/handling is totally different than pets.

      Some professional handlers will hire people to take care of the dogs at home in the kennel and this may be a good way for her to gain hands-on experience. Traveling to shows involves helping out with the show grooming and filling in as a back up handler when there are schedule conflicts and the handler needs to be in 2 rings at once.

      Visiting some larger local shows and talking to handlers would be a good start. I believe Infodog.com runs a classified section where job postings may be avail. Good luck!

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      • #4
        I'm not sure how you would go about getting started with a handler. I worked for one of the TOP handlers (at that time) and I found out about the job through one of his clients. I lasted about six months on that job and have been told that I was one of the ones that lasted the longest with this particular handler — he had VERY high turnover. I was slightly more than a slave! Long hours, low pay, and every time a dog lost it was MY fault. If I had to make a decision about what to do next, almost every time I chose the wrong thing — there was absolutely no consistency in what he expected from me. I felt like it was darned if I did and darned if I didn't. It was a shame that his people handling skills did not even come close to his animal handling skills. If he had treated the dogs like he treated his help, he would not have had any dogs to show.

        So I would say be careful and check out the handler before she starts working for them. Talk to the people that already work there. Check on the turnover of their help. I'm sure there are probably good handlers to work for, just do your homework.

        You don't say if you and/or your daughter show dogs now? That would help as far as finding a handler to work with, especially if she has shown in Juniors.

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        • #5
          [QUOTE=
          You don't say if you and/or your daughter show dogs now? That would help as far as finding a handler to work with, especially if she has shown in Juniors.[/QUOTE]

          No we do not show now. Pet groomers only. She has always been interested in becoming a handler, but life events have prevented her from pursuing it until now. I don't know if she has what it takes to make it as a handler or not, but she wants to try.

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          • #6
            My suggestion would first be to find out if there are any conformation handling classes offered nearby (ours is held two nights a week at the fairgrounds). Have her take a dog to the class (even if it isnt show quality) and learn how to show it. Not only will she get an idea of what is involved in the ring, its a good place for networking. Maybe you can hook up with a local breeder who wouldnt mind some help on show weekend, or may have a retired dog your daughter can show in the junior handling classes. Its a matter of easing into it. Most kids I know that are handler's assitants have started in the juniors ring. From there, it is much easier to get into the circle of handlers. Many will take on kids showing in juniors as assistants. The time your daughter would spend learning the ropes in the junior ring will be very beneficial, and it will also give you time to scope out the local handlers, and get a feel for who would be kinder to work for. Some are slave drivers. Others are more nuturing, seeing the juniors as the future of handlers. Its just a matter of getting your foot in the door.

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            • #7
              Check out your local kennel club for junior handler classes. It's a great way to find out if she likes handling and make lots of friends "in the business". Juniors give you a lot of the skills you need to be a better handler. Many good handlers have apprenticed under bigger handlers, but you need really tough skin. You will literally be lower than the dogs.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Poodleboy60 View Post
                You will literally be lower than the dogs.
                WOW! I knew it would be hard work, but had no idea that she would be slave labor or possibly be degraded. Maybe she should stick to her original plan of Zoology.

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                • #9
                  There are bad apples in every bunch, but not all handlers treat thier help like ****. Many are patient and kind, but you do have to realize that getting the dogs into the ring is top priority for the handlers (as it is their job!) so there can be high stress juggling dogs, so an assistant must be on their toes, and have the next dog ready and waiting ringside if necessary for the handler. Due to ring scheduling, sometimes the handler has to run out of one ring, hand the dog to the assistant, and take the next dog from them just to run into the next ring. In the event that the handler CAN'T get out of one ring in time, sometimes the assistant will need to show the next dog for them, so the assistant needs to be paying attention to what is going on at all times. Definitely not something for kids who have attention issues or are lazy. You have to have drive and dedication, and be a good multitasker. That being said, I am talking about handlers that show mulitiple breeds. If you can find a handler that specializes in a breed that you like, they may be a little more laid back, as they dont have multiple dogs and show times to manage. Either way, definitely start in the juniors ring to get a feel for shows and dog people.
                  I enjoy showing very much, and had I started at a younger age, I would have LOVED to do juniors and be an assistant.

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                  • #10
                    I have been showing dogs for 21 years and began at 11. I have handled professionally on and off for 15 years and it is very uncommon for a handler to hire sombody that isnt familiar with showing. Most handlers take on junior handlers for the summers and breaks as well as some weekends but without pay for the first couple of years. I have had a few juniors that have assisted me and it is for experience and exposure. Handlers can make a fantastic living but travel is grueling and frequent. Most people who want to become handlers, get the most experience by showing thier own dogs first and aquinting themselves with technique and protocal. Once those practices are firm, they take on friends dogs or ringside hand offs without cost of course and carry on from there. If she is really interested, my advice is to find a kennel with a breed she enjoys and volunteer there and really learn to groom and present that breed.....work from there. Good breeders are always in need of a good hand and an experienced bather....she must be prepared to learn how to groom thier way though....each breed is much different from the pet trims we do at the shop. There is much more sculpting and 'corrective' grooming which needs a strong eye for structure and balance. Hope this helps

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                    • #11
                      Whoa, there are good handlers out there! As in any industry, there are good bosses and bad bosses. Work for a good one, avoid the bad ones. There are groomers you wouldn't want to work for either.

                      Your daughter is too old to compete in juniors, so that isn't an option. My suggestion is to find an AKC show in your area and to go and watch, hang out in the grooming areas, look for the professionals (typically big set ups with multiple breeds and a lot of dogs.) and see how they handle their assistants. Many are very professional. Others are pretty rough.

                      Being the assistant that doesn't yet show dogs does put her at the bottom of the ranks. This includes the nasty jobs that just have to be done, including cleaning up after the dogs, etc. If she isn't willing to get up early and work hard, this isn't the profession. It's also not a high paying job and she's easily replaced. If the handler doesn't think the needs of the dogs come before the needs of the people, well, then that's a handler you shouldn't want to work for. The dogs should be cared for before the handler and crew head out for a fun evening, and someone has to remain sober to take care of the dogs after a party.

                      She should think of her favorite breeds and look for a handler that handles those breeds. Even "All-Breed" handlers don't normally handle all breeds. They tend to specialize in areas. For example, they'll typically have certain breeds of certain groups and tend to be a "minimal" groomer and show the dogs that we as groomers would consider more "wash and wear" such as the sporting group, hounds, working dogs. Others will specialize in terriers, some in poodles and bichons, etc. You don't normally see a handler with a string of wash and wear with a poodle or other extreme groomimg dog thrown in.

                      She'll want to find out if she is allowed to travel with a dog, but she won't want to start with travelling with a dog because until she is in the business, she won't know the best sources to get a nice quality show dog. The size of the dog she wants to get will matter. It's easier to add an extra beagle onto the truck than it is to add a Mastiff. Don't just get a dog to start with, work a while in the business, and then the handler will guide her towards the right person (probably a client) to get a nice quality dog. It's easier to learn with a good one. The handler should be happy to teach her how to show. The more she learns, the more they will teach. If she's got an attitude, she won't last long. She will be working with other young adults that probably have a TON more experience than she does, and she has to be able to handle that. And, some of those young "adults" are actually little snots.

                      Odds are that she won't find a permanent job at first, but will be offered a "trial." She should take the offer as most often, a week or two will tell her if this is indeed the profession she wants.

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                      • #12
                        I worked as a show assistant for twenty years. I had little interest in handling, but did enjoy working with and prepping the dogs. It is not an easy job. You live like a gypsy and work at the pleasure of the person who signs your checks. And at times that is NOT a pleasure.

                        It can be tons of fun, but it is a difficult way to make a living.

                        Before anyone can be a show assistant you have to learn how to properly prepare the dogs. And how you do show dogs is an entirely different bag than how you do pet dogs.

                        I do know there are some show handlers who will swap training someone to groom for show in exchange for free at-home help in grooming their show dogs, the assistant part of it coming in later, perhaps. Your daughter might want to check that out with any major pro handlers living in your immediate area. But even if she learns the grooming part of it, she would still have to learn the handling part of it and how to gait, stack and work each dog to its advantage. That takes time and that is where the Juniors had the advantage when it comes to working with pros.

                        I will also make the point that top pro handlers can be a very demanding, blunt bunch. They did not get to their station in the game by being sweet and easy to deal with. Any kid who is prone to being a crybaby over frank criticism and does not come equipped with a spine might want to think twice about working for pro handlers. Handlers don't have to worry about kids with feelings that are easily bruised because kids wanting to work for them are a dime a dozen. So, they can quickly go through the dozens of soft ones until they find the diamond they want to hire and keep.

                        You goof up a pet you can minimize the damage, apologize to mom and offer a discount on the grooming. You goof up your boss' special, the dog might be unshowable. You will probably get reemed out good in front of the whole grooming area and find your stuff dumped out of the motor home in the middle of the State Fair Grounds, you being told to find your own way home, pal.

                        That said, if she really want to give it a whirl, I say let her try. All ships are safe at harbor, but that's not why ships are built. Right? If it doesn't work out, she can always show her own dogs and perhaps eventually work as an agent herself if she gains enough skill at handling.

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                        • #13
                          So I would say be careful and check out the handler before she starts working for them. Talk to the people that already work there. Check on the turnover of their help. I'm sure there are probably good handlers to work for, just do your homework.
                          -
                          that is EXACTLY how my experience was!
                          I didn't work for a proffesional handler but a very big dog breeder who bred aussies and BC's. She had many big show dogs and I showed basically every weekend for her, for no pay (keep in mind that i was 15-16 at the time and it was less than a year ago!) I sometimes worked 12+ hours a day cleaning kennels, grooming dogs, helping with puppies training dogs. I absolutely love it but the boss was not the best. Everything that went wrong was blamed on me dogs that lost ect. It's a very stressful enviorment and sometimesthings push people to the limits. I lasted just a year there, I regret doing it and would of done better starting out with a different breeder/handler. BUT I learned SO much at a very fast pace. I got to travel for free, show/train dogs, and again i learned EVERYTHING.
                          There are many great people out there that offered to help me along because they knew how stressful working there was, and i wish i would of taken their offers!

                          The best way to start would be picking a breed she wants, go to a dog show talk to the breeders (most of the handlers will not be willing to talk to you unless they are your clients). I don't think she really has a big chance at working for a handler if she has never done any type of showing before. Finding a breeder first learning different grooms ect is the best, then maybe after that find a handler.
                          When she learns how to handle stay outside the rings and you may be lucky to find people wanting handlers. By chance I have handled top breeders dogs because the breeders need someone to help. I'm a junior so i guess it's a cheap way to do so! (Junior handlers can't accept money for showing) But some will give you a 'tip' if your over 18 for showing their dogs. I have showed dogs in the breed ring and in the group ring by sticking around the rings watching dogs show.

                          You can't be a handler without showing nice dogs, most handlers start out as breeders and get top dogs to show.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dalilah08 View Post
                            WOW! I knew it would be hard work, but had no idea that she would be slave labor or possibly be degraded. Maybe she should stick to her original plan of Zoology.
                            Lol, I briefly looked into zoology when in highschool. I was told a large part of the job was scooping poop and feeding animals. I decided against getting a 4 year degree in shite shoveling.

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                            • #15
                              So you jumped into Shite shovelling without the four years LOL. Isnt our job grand :P It amazes people that shaving dogs butts affords me a very nice lifestyle.....I will keep putting up with poop as long as the money keeps rollin in LOL

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