every element of the show experience is a positive one. What I mean is, go through your routine, step-by-step; start by getting the dog out of your car in a calm and safe spot. Walk a few feet… What if your focus is providing more variety for your dog; perhaps they have been in a limited environment? Your job is to broaden him through a variety of expe- riences, exposures, and different behaviors. Perhaps this may include spending more nights with you or possibly more nights away from you. Ask yourself, “At this time, what is most needed? Do they need more or less?” Ultimately, with all options open to you, ask the question, “What would LOVE do?” These are real questions to ponder. They are questions that you will have to answer if you’re going to connect with your dog, which is essential to be successful in the ring. A deep love of the canine spe- cies, built on respect and routine, enables you as the handler to connect with your dog—to communicate with your dog. Love, respect, and routine serve as the building blocks of the unspoken magic between top handlers and their dogs.
anticipation builds until there’s no ques- tion about how to get your dog to show well. Break down your routine into small pieces and map it out. Then, at every show, make sure to follow your plan. Observe how your dog starts responding more and more keenly to you and to getting to the ring. It’s at this point that I want to share the other side of the coin. How do you respond to the unexpected, the unforeseen, and the surprises? For example, what if the judge makes a turn and unexpectedly comes down the line and looks at your dog? It’s not a problem when you’re ready. You respond by quickly baiting your dog with a little flair, and he instantly perks up and struts his stuff. However, if you just stand there with no anticipation of what is com- ing next, whether expected or unexpected, how will you ever get your dog to show like a rock star? YOUR DOG’S POSITIVE EXPERIENCE I am always curious about my dog and which factors or influences will contrib- ute to expanding his experience—while also holding him together emotionally. This can start slowly, by ensuring that
LOVE, RESPECT, AND ROUTINE SERVE AS THE
BUILDING BLOCKS OF THE UNSPOKEN MAGIC BETWEEN TOP HANDLERS AND THEIR DOGS.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ms. Lee Whittier has been involved in the sport of purebred dogs for over three decades. Her involvement began as owner, exhibitor, and subsequently, a breeder of Rottweilers. She has also owned and exhibited numerous breeds, currently Tibetan Terriers, in three Groups. Lee began judging in 2000, and then took a hiatus for several years to work for The American Kennel Club as an Executive Field Representative. She returned to judging in 2011, and currently judges the Working, Terrier, Toy, and Non-Sporting Groups, eleven Hounds breeds, six Sporting breeds, Bouvier des Flandres, and Best in Show. She has judged throughout the US as well as internationally. Lee is a standing member of Dog Fanciers of Oregon, the American Rottweiler Club, and the Tibetan Terrier Club of America. She is Show Chair for Vancouver Kennel Club and the Terrier Association of Oregon’s January show with Rose City Classic. In addition to judging, Lee has developed the Dog Show Mentor program— exclusively for owner handlers. This is an online program where owner handlers of all stages and levels learn to develop an individual, strategic approach to showing dogs. Lee also travels to speak to owner handlers all over the world.
154 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER 2021
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