Showsight December 2017

The Harrison, New York, estate of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hartnett hosted the 1940 Professional Handlers Association Convention. Photo courtesy The American Kennel Club, 1884-1984: A Source Book.

Proactive Pros BY DAN SAYERS continued

Licensed vs. Registered Initially, professional handlers were approved to judge specialty shows on a show-by-show basis. “However, this policy was changed in 1969,” notes Mr. Stacy. At the delegates’ meeting held in September of the previous year, AKC Senior Vice- President Mr. John Cross argued that the arrange- ment needed to be discontinued due to post-war changes in the profession. “When this practice first started, the handling situation was very different from what it is today,” Mr. Cross told the delegates assembled. “There were far fewer handlers in the field. It was a much smaller field, as everything else in dogs was much smaller than it is today; in the beginning, the majority of handlers in this country had come from the other side of the water, and their background in dogs, in most cases, was one that began in childhood. These men were frequently sons of handlers; sometimes their grandfathers and other members of the family had been handlers. It seemed to be something that almost ran in families. The result was that from infancy, these men had been exposed to dogs and their knowledge in most cases was really profound. These men really were the experts of that day, and it was only natural and understandable that exhibitors should want to get the best experts that there were. This type of back- ground in dogs today is a vanishing thing. There are many more handlers today, and in a good many cases, they have a comparatively brief experience as exhibitors, and then been granted a handler’s license or a limited handler’s license. Frequently, in the opinion of your Board of Directors, the experi-

ence and background of these handlers is not suffi- cient to warrant approving them to judge specialty shows.” Beginning in 1965, a handler could be approved on a limited basis. But as the AKC and the sport of dogs grew to include exhibitors without a dog show pedigree of their own, so too did the challenge of issuing handlers’ licenses to individuals without much experience. At the July 1977 delegates’ meet- ing, AKC President Mr. John Lafore stated that the club was no longer in a position to adequately han- dle the licensing of professional handlers. “We have been receiving applications from a large number of people with limited experience in one or two breeds who are not pursuing handling on a full-time basis, but simply want to supplement their regular source of income or to help defray expenses of showing their own dogs,” he announced. “Since AKC licenses all professional handlers, many feel that AKC has conferred its unqualified stamp of approval on the professional competence of each handler it licenses. Unfortunately, such is not the case, as in the majority of cases, there is no defini- tive practical means by which such large numbers of applicants can be properly tested or screened.” Mr. Stacy points out that the matter resulted in the largest assembly of delegates (265) up to that time. “Mr. William F. Stifel, AKC Vice-President reiterated the American Kennel Club’s arguments with regard to the discontinuance of licensing, and he also addressed the proposals submitted by the Professional Handlers’ Association, which would have enacted stricter policies for the licensing of


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