In 2014 the American Kennel Club began the National Owner Handled Series. The series culminates with the AKC Owner-Handled Series Final in December in Orlando, Florida, a show where the top ranked owner-handled dogs are invited. The owner handled series was created to showcase quality dogs who are owner handled and to give them an opportunity to shows their dogs against their peers. The idea appeared to be a way to draw attention and provide recognition to dogs shown by their owners and not by professional handlers.
As with many things that are new, there was some skepticism about the series. Some owner exhibitors felt like it would be a consolation prize and set up the regular group to be the domain of professional handlers. Some professional handlers felt excluded from showing dogs that they owned, suggesting that it should be called Amateur Handler Series. Some judges felt like it was more work for no more money. I personally was skeptical when I first heard about it and didn’t participate the first year. Early in the second year I decided to give it a try. Our first show out we won an Owner Handled Best in Show, and I was hooked. We have now completed six years in the series, so I feel like it might be time to look at the number of Italian Greyhounds participating and assess how it has been received.
As a ranking system the Owner Handled Rankings are not based on the number of dogs defeated. They are based a point system with 5 points for a breed win, 10 points for a Group 4, 15 points for a Group 3, 20 points for a Group 2, 30 for a Group 1, 75 for a Reserve Best in Show, and 100 points for a Best in Show. The points total up as you show so if you win breed and a Group 2 you add both together for 25 points or if you win Best in Show you add the breed, the group, and Best in Show for a 135 point total.
Here are the point totals for the top Italian Greyhound rankings each year since the series started.
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
# 1 585 975 2890 1390 2610 1030
Top 5 165 210 240 340 370 560
Top 10 60 115 140 175 245 265
Top 15 30 70 90 115 145 190
The first thing that stands out to me is that the numbers for the top IG in 2016 and 2018 were very big totals. In 2016 that was GCHS Infiniti Holding Kryptonite who was the number three owner handled dog of all breeds and in 2018 it was GCHS Ferazi Gdm Titania At Jaros who finished the year as the number nine owner handled dog of all breeds. Both of these are stand out accomplishments representing great effort and a lot of hard work.
The other thing that stands out is that in every category (other than the number one IG) there is a steady increase every year since its inception. Participation and competition are growing each year and what it takes to be successful one year will not get it done the next. In addition to the increased competition at the breed level, the number of breeds represented in the groups has increased significantly while their competition in their breeds has increased as well.
It is my opinion that the growth in the Owner Handled Series has been good for the sport. It has given exhibitors new opportunities to show their dogs, increase their handling skills, ability to have judges see their dogs, and compete in the Group and Best in Show when they might not have reached that level before. All of these things are good practice for the dog and the handler. I believe that we will continue to see growth in the Owner Handled Series and that the competition will create more owner handlers who are able to win in the regular groups and Best in Show.