2001-Sun Mar 26 15:00:14 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
When Laura Reeves, of Grants Pass, Oregon, discovered after college that the 9-to-5 life of corporate America wasn’t for her, she went to the dogs — in a good way: Reeves traded in her office job for work as a professional dog handler. Her schedule isn't any easier now, though: On the days she's showing, Reeves typically starts her workdays at 5 a.m., exercising, feeding and grooming dogs before taking them into the show ring. After the show, she and her team of assistants exercise the dogs, clean up, eat dinner and feed the dogs. Their day generally doesn’t end until 10 p.m.
If you had always assumed that the job of showing dogs professionally — or handling, as it is commonly known — was as simple as leading a canine around a ring and collecting the ribbons at the end of the show, think again. Show dog handlers work, well, like dogs. And that doesn’t mean they’re lazing around on the sofa all day. Reeves, who began showing dogs in 4-H when she was 9 years old, describes it as 24/7/365 job.
But it's a job she loves.
Dog handling is truly a full-time job; many handlers share their homes with the dogs they show, including those owned by clients who hire them to manage the dogs' training and show schedule. This involves a lot of daily maintenance: Dogs must be cared for, and kennel runs, paddocks, vehicles, crates, bedding, bowls and buckets must all be cleaned. Handlers also spend time each day exercising their dogs, which can include running, swimming or bicycling, to keep them in top shape.
But a handler isn't often home for long stretches; professional handlers travel for 100 to 200 shows annually. And the dogs aren't the only ones getting a workout: Handlers load and unload dogs and gear from their vans or RVs; lift dogs on and off grooming tables; and shampoo, blow dry, clip and trim their charges to perfection.
“I limit the number of dogs I show," Reeves says, "so a normal day will have us showing 10, at most 15, dogs between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m." But her day isn't over at 2 p.m. "Normally, group judging begins around that time," Reeves explains, "and we will show anywhere from one to six dogs in their respective groups, depending on how our day of 'best of breed' winners went.”
That grueling schedule repeats as many as five days a week, and even at home, there’s little downtime. In addition to caring for and training the dogs, professional handlers are running a business, and that means that there are judges to research for upcoming shows, travel and schedule planning to attend to (including deciding which dogs to enter in which shows) and client communication and billing.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.