Showsight - March 2022


BY LEE WHITTIER T here are National Owner-Handled Series (NOHS) exhibitors who are unsure about how to think or feel about judges who are not yet approved to judge their Breed or Group. I believe that there are many consid- erations when bemoaning the judges within those guidelines. Let’s look at the origins of the NOHS, the consequences, and the long game for the owner handler, and the sport of dogs. Owner handlers make up a majority of exhibitors; the Ameri- can Kennel Club (AKC) says about 85% of dogs shown are shown by their owners. To celebrate the dedication and enthusiasm of owner handler exhibitors, the AKC created the NOHS. The intent was good; however, there has been confusion, grumbling, and dis- content. Why is that? A LOOK BACK When the AKC first started the NOHS in 2012, there was con- fusion among both the judges and the exhibitors as to whether judges were judging the dogs or the handlers. Let’s take a look at why the NOHS Regulations were created. The AKC is very straightforward and states: “Exhibitors wanted more consistency in the execution of NOHS at events and regulations have the benefit of being enforceable.” At the beginning of this year, the AKC announced the expan- sion of the NOHS by launching the NOHS Levels of Achievement program. In a press release they stated, “Owners and their dogs can obtain Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum recognition by earning a pre-determined number of lifetime NOHS points.” 1 **Please note that at Dog Show Mentor, we don’t hyphenate the words “owner handler,” nor do we provide a slash, unless we are using the term, “breeder/owner/handler.” The words “professional handler” are not hyphenated. So it is, in my opinion, equal practice to apply the same syntax. No need to cause a hierarchy or bring attention to difference—either hyphenate both or neither. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR YOU AS AN OWNER HANDLER? I have read numerous Facebook posts that allude to a concern among owner handlers that judges are learning their breeds at the expense of the owner handlers’ NOHS status. Let’s look at this hypothetically. What if, (my fav. phrase), by providing the oppor- tunity to show dogs to these judges, you are helping them view a good quality, well-presented dog that is in good condition? Why is that important for you ? It’s important because you are setting the stage for that judge, not only for that moment in time, but

potentially for you down the road. Remember, our show careers and our lives are made up of moments in time. Set your stepping- stones; pave the road for your future. Strategically, I encourage you to think ahead—consider the long game. What is down the road? It could be another NOHS win or it could be a regular Group win. It could be a Best in Show on your dog. It depends if you plan to be in the sport for more than five minutes. If we look at whether having judges who are not approved for every Breed within the Group, or possibly any Breed within the Group, it could be good or bad. Remember that the NOHS judg- ing system that is in place is working for you as an owner han- dler. Since its inception, the AKC has implemented protocols for the judges. To be able to judge the AKC NOHS Group, a judge



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