WHY GERMAN SHEPHERDS?
Prior to 1982, you would Never have convinced me I would ever own a GSD. No Way! I liked the exotic looking breeds. I loved my fuzzy "Cousin It" breed, the Lhasa. I pretty much liked any smashed face breed. I liked the "Giant of Dogdom", the Irish Wolfhound. If you had asked me back then, I would have told you that Shepherds were way too "generic" of a dog for me. In fact, I was researching bloodlines and kennels for an IW, when I went to work for Terry Hower and Lee Ray Kennels.
At the time Terry was one of the top three handlers in the country for GSDs. I worked for Terry off and on for 15 years, first as a kennel attendant and later as Manager.
I received an unparalleled education. I was working daily with Nationally ranked dogs that are now legends of the breed. I was being taught by two people Terry and his wife Linda, who already had 20-30 years in the breed. What they taught me about conformation, GSD's, showing, and the dog business I still use on a daily basis. Thank you, Terry and Linda.
The dogs I was working with won me over to the breed. They won me over by their overwhelming NEED to please. They fell over themselves trying to give you what you wanted. They were profoundly sorry if they couldn't figure out what you wanted. As much as I loved my Lhasa's....biddability was never their strong suit.
The dogs won me over by their beautiful flowing grace. I was surrounded by dogs that were literally breathtaking to watch. Maybe this piece gave me a little of my need for the exotic and unique. No other breed can come close to the sheer beauty of the German Shepherd sidegait.
The German Shepherd's sense of loyalty, intelligence, biddability and ability to adapt to whatever task you set them to, will keep one with me forever.
Terry had a bitch that wasn't working out for him. I was sort of wanting to try obedience competition....Terry gave her to me. It was Destiny. Which is what I would have named my kennel, except a much respected lady had grabbed the name many years before and had produced many a Champion under the Destino name.
So....looking for a synonym, I found Karma. The irony is, when I chose that name, it didn't have any deeper meaning for me. I was a very pragmatic, black and white kinda person then. 10 years would pass before I discovered the New Age philosophies I follow now. Did the name make the person? Hmmm.........
I breed when I want a puppy. I want a champion herder who lives in my house and sleeps in my bed. I want a partner who is as obsessive as I am about the jobs we do and jumps at the chance to go where I go and do what I do. To do this they need:
*A stable, flexible temperament - My dogs live in the house, travel constantly, and go to work in a new place practically every day. They also go to class and compete in various venues throughout the year. this requires a strong, sane, flexible brain that can gear up or gear down as the situation warrants. They need the intelligence, judgment and self control to adjust.
*Competitive drive - They need to have drive and enthusiasm for the sport we are doing together. Companion and competitor are NOT mutually exclusive. My definition of drive is the need to overcome obstacles. The stronger the drive, the less "quit" is in the dog. Drive is not mindless anxiety and aimless movement. Drive is the element that helps a dog solve a new problem, and keep going when the job gets tough. Call it Heart.
*Herding instinct and talent - No dog without herding instinct is part of my breeding program. Each generation I seek to distill and enhance the natural talents within my dogs.
*Balanced, sound conformation - Both for what I want to look at, and for what I need to work with, I need a dog that is put together well. I look for a dog with a longer neck, proper proportions, balanced sidegait, a long sloping croup, right angle in the rear and short hocks.
Biddability - I need a dog who wants to be a partner, not a Prima Dona nor a competitor. I need a dog with a strong sense of self that wants to work with me. I don't need or want a slave. I seek a dog that can be a partner.
Health - I love my dogs and want them to hang around as long as possible. I want them fit to work as often and long as they can. Breeding dogs with health certifications that I know to be fit and healthy gives me this.
Lighter black and tan color - I herd all year round. The darker the dog, the harder the time the dog has in high summer. I've worked with three Bi-Colors, all three had extreme difficulty in the heat and humidity of Summer. Therefore, my goal is to breed for lighter black and tan, black and red, or sable color
American bred bloodlines - My entire breeding program is based strictly on American bred dogs. They have given me the minds, instinct, talent and overall package to produce two #1 Herding German Shepherds. I expect the American lines to keep giving me the tools to evolve my program.
This entire list of qualities is subject to improvement thru careful selection of breeding candidates. My goal and responsibility is to chose dogs that can improve my program one generation at a time.