Alumni Spotlight: Gail Miller Bisher
She doesn’t mind the barking. In fact, it’s followed her most of her career. For Gail Miller Bisher (Grad A&S ’01), a lifelong love of dogs led her down a path that includes looking out for the health and happiness of man’s best friend and to the “Super Bowl” of the show dog world, the Westminster Kennel Club.
Beginning with her parents’ bearded collies when she was a kid, Bisher was never far from a dog show. Her parents introduced her to the sport.
She went on to become the first junior handler to qualify for the Westminster Kennel Club’s prestigious Junior Showmanship competition with a bearded collie, and the first to place in that competition. By age 12, she had handled her first dog to a championship title.
While other college undergraduates were waiting tables, Bisher became a professional handler of show dogs. She took clients’ dogs as well as her own to numerous awards, including National Specialty Best of Breed and All-Breed Best in Show wins.
Bisher went on to become a dog show judge, certified canine fitness trainer and, most recently, the first female analyst to call the Westminster Kennel Club show in 30 years. As the club’s director of communications, she follows the “Road to Westminster,” conducting interviews, shooting video and running the club’s communications strategy. The videos, she said, give viewers a sneak-peak not only of the sport but also of the “players” before they set paw on the green carpet of Madison Square Garden.
“The Road to Westminster allows me to meet top dogs from across the U.S. and to learn more about what makes them unique,” she said. “I get to talk with breeders and owners about their passion, purebred dogs. The more breeds I meet and spend time with, the more dogs I want to own!”
Bisher’s role blends her love of showing dogs, stints in advertising and the education she received at Saint Louis University. The Arnold, Missouri, native had been working at a St. Louis-based advertising firm when she was drawn to SLU’s graduate program in communication.
“I was looking for a graduate program that was close by, and I liked that it was in the city,” Bisher said. “It felt more urban and in the middle of everything.”
Today, when not explaining the difference between an Afghan hound and a beagle, Bisher is busy raising her daughter and working on another dog-related passion project: a book about how to keep dogs healthy and in shape.
“Growing up in the sport of dogs, I’ve always physically conditioned, trained and cared for a lot of canines,” she explained. “When I looked outside the dog-sports world and saw that the pet population is falling into the same patterns as humans regarding obesity, it occurred to me that I could help. If I can use my knowledge based on 30-plus years of experience to help a pet lose weight and live a longer life, I will.”
— By Amelia Flood