In our May 6th 2020 issue we had a conversation with All Breed Professional Handler Laura King.
1) How long have you been showing dogs professionally?
25 plus years.
2) Before going out on your own, did you work for a well-known professional handler?
I was a weekend warrior. I worked for a number of well-known local handlers, but never lived with any. My parents didn’t allow it while I was in High School, and there wasn’t time while I was in college.
3) Do you breed dogs currently, or intend to down the road?
I am actively involved with Robin Novack and our Springer Spaniel breeding program. I am also very involved with the KBPride Cavalier breeding program.
4) What dogs do you own?
We have 3 Shih-Tzu pets and a Portuguese Water Dog, along with a number of Springers.
5) How many Best in Shows to date have you been awarded?
6) What is the biggest challenge facing professional handlers?
Present circumstances excluded……It has been a struggle for us to find assistants who are willing to “put in the work”. In this day and age everyone wants instant fame without putting in the hours of work required to earn it.
7) How many Specials do you usually carry in your set-up?
We currently have 9, which would probably be the average number, with a few more at larger shows.
8) Do your campaign dogs do better staying with you? Or can they go home in between shows?
I don’t think that there is an absolute for this. It really needs to be on a case by case basis. That being said, I do think that the dogs we campaign at a high level need to stay with us. It is generally the best way to keep them mentally, emotionally, and physically in peak shape.
9) If they go home what must the owners do to keep them in peak mental, physical and coat condition during the week?
Again, this is a case by case basis. Each dog is different and will require different methods to achieve peak performance.
A good diet, proper exercise and coat care, and mental stimulation all factor in.
10) What are, your favorite “must have” products that can always be found in your tack box?
Cornstarch fixes everything!!!!
11) What advice would you give to a young professional just starting out who wants handling to be their career?
Work for someone who knows how to run a business, not just someone who is a good dog jockey. Don’t be afraid to put in the hours of work…THEY WILL PAY OFF!!
12) Do you have assistants that you are mentoring?
We are fortunate to have one wonderful assistant who has been with me for 12 years, and even she will tell you that she is still learning! We have a number of people who help us occasionally on weekends. We are active in the handling seminars put on by AKC RHP and enjoy being able to follow up with the attendees.
13) Campaigning dogs to the highest level in our sport, is not easy. What are some of the things you do, to keep your dog’s happy and showing well?
It completely depends on the dog. You have to get a feel for what each dog needs to continue to want to show. Some need constant attention and made to feel they are the center of the universe. Others may need extra time to run in a paddock with all of their friends. Part of being a professional is being able to see what each dog needs and then to provide it.
14) What breeds have you had the most success with?
I would guess working breeds and spaniels from all groups!
15) Is there any breed that you find is always a challenge to show?
Cavaliers……they are so desperate to please you……it’s like showing Jell-O. Siberians are a challenge for the exact opposite reason!!!
16) Some handlers look after their campaign dogs solely, is this something you practice?
It depends on the dog. I have taken this approach with Striker and it has served us well. I am solely in charge of everything with him, and it has really helped us both. Other dogs we have campaigned hold a grudge about bathing/drying/trimming so the handler needs to be the “good guy” with the treats.
17) Do you take on a priority dog each year?
Yes, for each group. We won’t guarantee priority at the Best in Show level as circumstances could be different on any given day.
18) What are you doing to keep going and stay positive in the current state we find the world is in now?
Trying to enjoy the extra time that we get to spend with the dogs and at home, although the temptation to load them up and just drive around is strong!!
19) Name a breed you have never shown to date?
There are a number, but I would love the chance to show a Lagotto!
20) What has been your most memorable win to date in your career?
A few come to mind…I am not sure I can narrow it down…But ANY National Best in Specialty Show is something I’ll never forget. Breaking the Siberian Best In Show record was pretty spectacular.