In our May 13th 2020 issue we had a conversation with All Breed Professional Handler Terry Bernier-Siborne.
Name: Terry Bernier-Siborne, All Breed Professional Handler
Where You Live: Abbotsford, British Columbia
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
1) How long have you been showing dogs professionally?
Since 2003 I think. But I got my start showing my mother’s Shetland Sheepdogs when I was 8.
2) Before going out on your own, did you work for a well-known professional handler?
I worked for several top handlers. Some of them included Elaine Mitchell, Gary Lee, Larry Clark, Doug Belter, Lori Gauvin, Kyra Dennis, Shawn Nichols, Raymond Yurick. The people who influenced my handling career the most were Tim Brazier and Penny Dugan. They gave me a huge opportunity to apprentice under them.
3) Do you breed dogs currently, or intend to down the road?
No, I do not breed dogs currently. But you never know what the future holds.
4) What dogs do you own?
We are owned by 3 Miniature Poodles. JC 13 1/2, Gidget 6, and Duck 4.
Below, dogs owned by Terry over the years…
5) How many Best in Shows to date have you been awarded?
I don’t know to be honest. I think around 200.
6) What is the biggest challenge facing professional handlers?
Finding, a good work/home life balance. Being on the road, sometimes weeks on end, makes it hard to have any semblance of a home life.
7) How many Specials do you usually carry in your set-up?
I can carry a few. But not many. As I am only one person and of course my clients always want me to stay on their dogs. I try to accommodate them as best I can.
8) Do your campaign dogs do better staying with you? Or can they go home in between shows?
I do find the specials do better staying with me, in order that we can form a bond, and I can train them the way I want for the ring.
9) If they go home what must the owners do to keep them in peak mental, physical and coat condition during the week?
If they go home to their owners, they must keep up their coat work. Keep them in great shape. Otherwise we will all be facing an uphill battle each week.
10) What are, your favorite “must have” products that can always be found in your tack box?
I love my Bass brushes. I have tons of them. Being a Poodle handler, I go through a lot of Artero products.
11) What advice would you give to a young professional just starting out who wants handling to be their career?
I would say, find a mentor. Either a breeder with lots of knowledge or another well respected handler. Learn the ropes from them. Ask a lot of questions and LISTEN.
12) Do you have assistants that you are mentoring?
Not really. I have an assistant that helps me out from time to time, Marissa Johnson, but she has school and the goal of becoming a nurse.
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?
I have to make them feel SPECIAL. That is what they are after all, specials. They need extra time in hotel rooms, walks on the road, biking at home, and just throwing a toy for them by themselves makes them feel great. We keep low numbers here, so it’s easier to give the dogs more one on one time.
14) What breeds have you had the most success with?
Papillons, Shelties, Tibetan Terriers, and of course Poodles (having gone Number One All Breeds on the Standard Poodle Graydon), and now of course Schipperke Riot.
15) Is there any breed that you find is always a challenge to show?
I think any sighthound is a challenge for anyone. Especially if they don’t live with you. They are strong willed and give even the best handlers a run for their money.
16) Some handlers look after their campaign dogs solely, is this something you practice?
It depends totally on the dog. Riot doesn’t like me to do his nails, so that job is left to someone else each week. Lol. But some dogs love the individual attention you give them.
17) Do you take on a priority dog each year?
Yes, I have a priority dog each year. I let the clients know at the beginning of the year where they all fall in the schedule so there are no misunderstandings.
18) What are you doing to keep going and stay positive in the current state we find the world is in now?
Well.I only have Riot living with me now, So I am still conditioning him.
But aside from dogs, I am learning to cook again. Working out a lot and getting caught up on some well-deserved rest.
19) Name a breed you have not shown to date?
Neapolitan Mastiff and Pumi’s of course. I love this breed.
20) Do you have any intention of judging down the road?
As of right now, no. I am still in the middle of my handling career. But you never know what the future holds.