Shouldn't professional handlers be permitted to handle puppies they bred in the Four to Six Beginner Puppy competiton?
Fri, 02/09/2024 - 12:29pm

Editorial: February 9, 2024

A big step, but not a giant step

The board of directors of the American Kennel Club is reviewing a proposal to amend the restrictions on who can exhibit in the Four to Six Month Beginner Puppy Competition, which currently excludes professional handlers, their families and current assistants. It was a needless restriction placed on a segment of the dog-showing community. Not only should these classes be open to all, but so should the National Owner-Handled competition. In today’s world, many of the specials exhibited by professional handlers are also bred and co-owned by them. Many professional handlers are also breeders, and when that combination of owner and handler arises, said individual should be allowed to exhibit in all classes offered at the dog show, including the Owner-Handled competition. A phenomenon of the times. Surely, the board of directors wouldn’t want to return to a time when seated board members did not exhibit their dogs, nor could they apply to judge nor apply for additional breeds while they served the greater good. So why restrict others from a glorified puppy handling class? The real question is: Who is served by the creation of an Owner-Handled competition? Was it created to separate the professional handlers from the owner-handlers, the pro/am combination that was the backbone of the sport? Was it for owners who never won a variety group in the regular dog competition, or just another giveaway to make everyone happy? One could justify the National Owner-Handled Series if the competitors were truly novice exhibitors, and this restricted class would give them encouragement to continue in the sport until they were comfortable enough to play in the big leagues. But as in today’s world, there are owner-handlers who are very successful and hold their own regardless of their competition, professional or not. Isn't that the beauty of a pro/am sport like ours? We would encourage the board to reconsider opening both the Beginner Puppy and Owner-Handled competitions to each and every exhibitor in good standing with the American Kennel Club. It is in your power to correct this and take a giant step.




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