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Existentially Elizabeth: Fall 2023

Existentially Elizabeth: Fall 2023

The Rest of the Story

I was listening to the podcast of This American Life a few days ago. The topic of that episode was Paul Harvey and his trademark “The Rest of the Story” series. For those of you too young to know Harvey, he was a radio broadcaster starting during World War II until his passing at age 90 in 2009. His lyrical voice and cadence were distinctive and instantly recognizable, just as Morgan Freeman’s is today.


Sometimes during his WWII broadcasts, Harvey would end with a segment he dubbed “The Rest of the Story.” This was typically a 1-3 minute story of some little-known or forgotten facts, with the catch line being who the story was about, being released at the end of the narrative. Harvey would finish with his patent, “And now you know, (pause) the rest of the story.” The segment became so popular that one of these mini-stories would air 6 days a week from 1976 until 2009. In a way, it could be considered the Instagram, YouTube Short or Facebook Reel of today.

At his height, this short segment was carried on 1200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations and 300 newspapers- garnering him an audience of 24 million listeners. To put that into perspective, his daily audience was well over twice that which currently watch the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS Morning, Fox and Friends, MSNBC’s Morning Joe and CNN This Morning put together.

One such mini-story was of Ted, a would-be book author and illustrator. The story picked up with Ted marching along Madison Ave, after having his manuscript rejected for the 27th time. The editors of these 27 New York publishing companies complained that Ted’s verse was too different, too fantastic, that there was no subtext, no evident message or moral. Frustrated and in despair, 27-time rejected manuscript tucked under his arm, Ted was making his way back to his apartment with the intent of burning it. He was laughing sardonically to himself and almost missed hearing someone call out, “Ted, is that you?”

The question came from Mike McClintock, a schoolmate from Ted’s Dartmouth College days. After sharing a couple of niceties, Mike asked Ted, “What’s that under your arm?” Ted explained, including his impending plans for the stack of papers. Mike said that the building they were standing in front of held his new office and invited Ted up to see it. Turns out that the company, Vanguard Press, had just hired Mike only THREE hours earlier, with the new directive to purchase and promote what other publishing houses were rejecting- like Ted’s manuscript.

As you may have guessed by now, Ted’s persistence paid off. If he had given up and burned his manuscript after the 26th rejection, he never would have been spotted by Mike on his way back home from his 27th rejection. He never would have gone on to publish over 60 self-illustrated books, which sold over 600 million copies, were translated into more than 20 languages, and were turned into 11 TV specials, 5 feature films, a Broadway musical and 4 television series. Ted Geisel became famous- and was better known under his pen name, Dr. Seuss.

One of the achievements we recognize and celebrate at the Doberman National is that of the top Novice Owner Handlers. Hearing Ted’s story made me reflect on these Owner Handlers, their journeys to get to this point, and their journeys yet to come. These brave souls face the learning curve, the obstacles, the seemingly endless rejections by judges, the deprecating looks and comments by those more experienced who should instead be supporting and guiding them.

Like Ted Geisel’s tribulations and persistence with that manuscript, all handlers were Owner Handlers at one point. We all had that Doberman who could do no wrong, and in our untrained eyes was the epitome of the Breed standard. We went to our first shows just knowing that our dog was going to set everyone back on their heels in awe. Our egos were tied up with the dog, and whenever our dog walked away without the points, we took it personally. When it kept happening show after show, it was harder to find the perseverance to keep going. Some of those Owner Handlers give up, and go on with their lives, looking back on their short “Dog Show Days” as a frivolous and demeaning waste of time.

Others though, can identify that one something in their experience, their journey, that prodded them to keep going. Maybe it was that once in a blue moon Winner’s ribbon, perhaps it was the 10 minutes taken by a more seasoned handler to show them a trick of the trade, it might have been that first invitation to join an established group of exhibitors for lunch, or maybe just some inner voice that kept telling them to not give up.

Or perhaps, like it was for me, it was a negative experience that lit the fire. Five years into showing and going long months between purple ribbons, I stuck with it because I’ve always been a student at heart, and I was having fun with the friends I had made. I figured if I watched enough handlers, went to enough classes and seminars, read enough books, studied at my mentor’s feet, and kept practicing, practicing, practicing, I might get good enough at handling. Then came that turning of fate- perhaps 60 to 90 seconds during a National when I was cornered by a prominent breeder and handler who venomously spat out that I “was a nobody and would always be a nobody.”

What was intended as a weapon to unseat me and drive me out of showing, instead became like a red cape to a bull. My mindset became ‘Oh Yeah, Just Watch Me.’ No longer did I hope that I might get good enough at handling; I was going to be better than good enough. I clamped ahold of that bit and dug in. Every experience in the ring became fodder for me to learn from. I upped my learning, my determination, and slowly but surely, my game.

So, to all the Novice Owner Handlers out there, I say to you, do not give up! Your first dog may not be the ideal specimen. Your first dog may be a far better specimen than you are a handler. Either way, stick with it! Don’t be afraid to ask advice from a professional or even an admired, accomplished Owner Handler. Trust me, they remember the days when they were starting out! Jump at every chance to learn- not only how to handle, but other aspects that can help you like canine anatomy, physiology and behavior, and athlete psychology. Even if realistically, your first dog will never finish or even get pointed, use the time to learn, practice and network.

I look forward to the day when the word ‘Novice’ no longer comes to mind when others hear your name. I smile to think of the day when YOU can be the one to give a piece of advice or share a kind word with a Novice Owner Handler. Most importantly, know that you are NOT a nobody, and NEVER will be!

So, Novice Owner Handlers, what will be ‘The Rest of the Story’ for you?