OWNER HANDLERS: HOW TO RISE TO THE TOP 20 PERCENT
Well, the professionals show up like rock stars! Don’t they? They prepare for shows and participate in them as skilled handlers. Yes, of course, they do this because they are professionals, but you can show up with the same presence. Shoulders down and back, chin up! Are you doing this? Do you have a confident walk? The pros carry an “I’m here to win” attitude. “Take
of training? If you want to compete with the best, you’re going to have to put in the time and commitment to rise to that level. That’s not always what people want to hear. My question is: “How badly do you want it?” TRAIN THEM AND SHOW THEM AT THEIR BEST Consider the timing of your dog’s first appearance. If you have a really special dog, and you know it’s going to show exceptionally well, you want people to see it at its best. Once you have made the decision that your dog is ready to make its debut, always bring your dog looking its best, whether it’s for the Breed level or the Best in Show level. Don’t bring a dog that is unfocused, untrained, and just not looking its best, and have the expectation to place. Remember why you have stepped into the ring. YOUR SPOT IN THE TOP 20 PERCENT Being a part of the largest segment of handlers is an honor. Put in the training time and consider what will be asked of your dog. Strategically decide when to bring your dog into the ring. Consider the 2.4 minutes that your dog will be in front of the judge and what needs to happen leading up to that moment to ensure that you and your dog are on point and brimming with confidence. Ulti- mately, your dog should exhibit what the breed standard is—at its finest. Be prepared to support your dog in the spotlight; to have a brilliant performance and experience. Put on a show where the judge can focus on your dog’s virtues and not on their poor behavior. Make it easy for the judge to point to your dog. Your hard work, profes- sional mindset, and confidence will lead you to your spot amongst the top 20 percent, even when you are amongst the 80 percent majority of owner handlers. For a free Rate Your Dog tool, go to https://www.dog- showmentor.org/lee-whittier-ring-ready.
me seriously!” How about you? A COMPETITIVE MINDSET
Do you have an attitude and a level of professionalism on your road to success? Such is the mindset that you will be competing with amongst the elite. It is one that I encourage you to adopt as your own. When the day is over, I’m sure you’ve seen handlers (professional or otherwise) working with their dogs. They were focused on creating a team with their dogs. That’s the commitment. That’s the mindset they have. Do you put in that kind
TIP: Put $100 in your pocket every time you compete in the ring. Maybe add your favorite game piece as a token. See how much more incentive you have. Calculate your win ratio and add up how much you paid yourself just to up your game! Does it make you grittier to think of that $100 bill in your pocket?
ABOUT LEE WHITTIER
Ms. Lee Whittier has been involved in the sport of purebred dogs for over three decades. Her involvement began as an owner, exhibitor and, subsequently, a breeder of Rottweilers. She has owned Akitas, Bullmastiffs, and a Sussex Spaniel. She currently owns, breeds, and exhibits Tibetan Terriers. Ms. Whittier began judging in 2000, and then took a hiatus for several years to work for the American Kennel Club as an Executive Field Representative in the Pacific Northwest. She returned to judging in 2011, and currently judges the Working, Terrier, Toy, and Non-Sporting Groups, eleven Hound Breeds, six Sporting Breeds, Bouvier des Flandres, and Best in Show. Ms. Whittier has judged dog shows around the world, from the United States to Asia, at shows large and small; all of great importance to each and every exhibitor. Some of the larger shows are Westminster Kennel Club, Kennel Club of Philadelphia, Del Valle, Great Western Terrier Association, Northern California Terrier Association, Hatboro, Malibu Kennel Club, and the Kennel Club of Palm Springs. Ms. Lee Whittier 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. As an active member in numerous clubs, she has worked in the capacity of Show Chair, President, Vice-President, Secretary, Board Member, and Constitution & By-Laws Revision Committee Member.
In addition to judging, Ms. Whittier 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. She also travels to speak to owner handlers all over the world. She currently lives in Vancouver, Washington, with her husband, Wayne, and their three Tibetan Terriers. Her other interests include gardening and hiking with the dogs.
188 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MAY 2021
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