Gone To The Dogs and I Love It

Griffin L. Reid

Purple Sage Shepherds

Odessa, Texas


“Wow! Champ won Winner’s Dog, his first trophy!” That’s exactly what I said as Fred Lanting pointed towards Champ. I guess that was the first time I saw how good Champ really is. I had only gone up to Gainesville NY in order to be a part of Shiloh Shepherd’s Homecoming. Let me stop here and start at the beginning.

In the past two years I’ve purchased two bitches and two dogs from Shiloh in order to engage in a K—9 Security Agency here in West Texas. I’m presently working with ten Shepherds all out of Shiloh’s stock. Here at Purple Sage Shepherds we are continuing a sound genetic breeding program which is supplied from Shiloh. We are also following the training program implemented at Gainesville. Let’s face it, you can’t beat a method that produces outstanding performance!

I went to Gainesville to learn genetic breeding, hip dysplasia, and a new obedience method along with using Champ as a demo dog in a Schutzhund exercise. I also brought Colonel for Tina to see. Anyway, I missed my plane out of Odessa to Chicago, but Champ and Colonel were right on time. From there on it was to be mass confusion. I finally caught up to them in Chicago and traveled with them on to Buffalo where I was to meet Gary Levesque. Well, I had never met or seen Gary for that matter, and only talked to him a couple of times on the phone. I figured I’d let him find me: Western boots and two mad dogs. I was right...he found me with no problem! After loading up the dogs in the truck we headed out towards Gainesville. Funny thing, Gary decided to take a short cut that only took three hours to get home. Actually, it’s only an hour and a half to Gainesville from Buffalo, but we made it. I was so engrossed with their place, all the huge oaks and everything so green, that I never saw what was coming. As Gary and I were taking the dogs out of the truck, here comes Tina in a cloud of dust. Her hair was flying and she was yelling “Get out of the way!”. She was riding bareback running about five or six wild horses down the driveway only wide enough for the pickup and a couple of horses. I just closed my eyes and prayed. Real nice first day! There went my hostess! Later that night we stayed up and discussed genetics. From Crayola Colors to Pet Quality, with Super Stud, I think we covered it all. I should have taken a recorder to catch all that came out of Tina’s mouth. She can spit out more names and characteristics of dogs that match than I know people. If it hadn’t been for her personal notes I’m not sure I could have remembered half. After fifteen or twenty cups of coffee we decided to retire. It was only about 2:00 AM and we were getting up at 6:00 AM.

6:00 AM came around and John and Rich, Gary and Tina’s boys, were up and started with their chores. Another eight to ten cups of coffee and a lot more talk. I ambled out and was given a personal introduction to the rest of the family: Luke, Gunsmoke, Carry, etc... 36 in all. After meeting everyone, Gary and I started setting up the ring for Sunday’s festivities. It wasn’t all work. We did have time to play. I went down to the swimming hole with the two boys for about an hour or so, which was very refreshing. They have a creek which runs along one end of their property. Cool fresh and green water which is very rare where I’m from. I also toured their kennel setup. It’s well laid out and took some time and planning. The newest addition was the Maternity Ward, really nice. Gary and I also worked Champ. Gary was impressed. He should be, he trained him! All I’d done was to continue what he started.

Early that evening Fred Lanting came in. Fred came to judge the fun match on Sunday and give a seminar on Hip Dysplasia. I was very impressed with him as I sat listening to the experts exchange ideas. Having him there that early gave me insight as to what to look for in conformation in the Shepherd. He could almost tell exactly how dysplastic a dog was by just watching the gait and walk. Also if a dog wasn’t dysplastic he could determine whether or not he or she could be finished. Something that takes years of working with dogs. Fred also has his own kennels in Alabama called Willow Woods Kennels, and he has been involved with writing for various dog magazines. He now has an excellent book out on Hip Dysplasia in canines.

We sat around, shooting the bull and eating stew, when Mary Adelman dropped in. Now Mary and Tina are two of a kind. You could sit for hours and never have to open your mouth. They talk constantly about this dog, that dog, what you get from breeding this dog to that dog. By the end of the night I was completely confused. Mary also has her own kennels in Hazel, KY: Glendhenmere Kennels. Another professional who has a double degree in psychology. Again, she writes for numerous magazines and has published her book that covers training in obedience, protection, and tracking. She was there to judge for TD degree certification and conduct a seminar in obedience and Schutzhund training.

Well, I finally called it a night at 2:30 AM and fell asleep listening to Mary and Tina still going. Finally Sunday, the big day, rolled around. The first thing I had to do was wash Szar ‘cause he was to be entered and had rolled in horse dung.  Great way to start off a day even before coffee.

Afterward breakfast was cooked and I could have eaten a horse.

Things started getting pretty hectic. People were flowing in from all over:   Canada, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, etc... Tina was running around trying to talk to everyone and get things lined out and cleaned up. Around 10:00 AM things started clicking and that’s when Tina made me enter Champ in competition. Now I had never been to or seen a dog show and really didn’t want to make Champ look bad, but I entered and to my amazement Champ won Winner’s Dog! Everyone was having a great time. Fred was giving constructive criticism on every dog, all you had to do was ask...super guy. After all the judging was over and pictures taken, which lasted about three or four hours, everyone started breaking up. The plan was to move to the town firehall and listen to Fred Lanting’s talk on dysplasia. To my dismay, only about a fourth of the people showed up! I figure only those who were genuinely interested in their dogs’ best interest participated. He covered causes, genetics, and environmentals. of dysplasia and what to look for in a pup. There was a slide presentation showing good and dysplastic hips. Bases were also touched on the new cures for dysplasia. All and all it was a very informative discussion and I wish more people would have attended. Maybe if people took it more seriously the percentage of dysplastic dogs would be less. In my own mind I felt that it was well worth the time, and then some.

After the seminar with Fred we drove back to Shiloh and started up with Mary Belle. She has incorporated a positive reinforcement method in training. What she does is not yell NO! and yank on the leash, but instead praises the dog and encourages by positive reinforcement on commands. She took a completely untrained dog, and in five minutes had him heeling sitting, and downing on command without a single negative correction. I was impressed. She went into protection and tracking emphasizing on working with the dog, not against him. By this time only the hard core people were left Of course this is why there are okay dogs and great dogs. People just don’t want to put forth an effort.

In four days and three nights I learned more than I could have imagined. As I stated earlier my wife Molly, and I have started a serious effort in raising Shepherds to be proud of and my trip to Gainesville only strengthens my beliefs in it. Gary and Tina are serious and determined to make the breed better. They both have over 25 years experience in breeding, raising, and training Shepherds and I am convinced they are professionals. Monday morning I woke up and found Colonel in the kitchen with Tina feeding him Chicken McNuggets. Of course, I didn’t say anything, after all he was her personal dog for so long.

But that again reinforces my beliefs that they produce the total dog! I never mentioned Colonel because he is not a show dog. He comes from their ‘too hot to handle’ bloodline. So Tina and I sat and drank coffee and went back over genetics. Tina, time and time again, emphasized to stick to line breeding and only outcross with type breeding, I can still hear her! Both Gary and Tina are professionals and give 100% to their dogs. I could have wandered over the world and not found two finer people. I just regret more people don’t follow their ideals.


Site Map | 1983 Homecoming: Gone to the Dogs | Our First Homecoming | A Message from the Judge | The Homecoming by Mary Belle Adelman | Remember the Homecoming

Yearly since 1974, Shiloh Shepherd™ owners and fanciers from across the continent (and beyond)  have had the privilege of attending Homecoming, an event started by our Breed Founder, Tina Barber, and sponsored, since 1991, by the Shiloh Shepherd™ Dog Club of America, Inc.

Unfortunately we have not been able to share the original pictures taken prior to 1998 due to the tragedy that befell the original Shiloh Shepherds farm, but some of them may still be seen inside of the old Newsletters!!

Thanks to Rich Lewis and Karen Ursel, we have been able to recreate ALL of the recent years, since 1996, and would like to share these pages with you!

Remembering Homecomings Past | Homecoming from a Newcomer's Perspective | 9th Annual Homecoming 1983  | 21st Annual Homecoming 1995 | 22nd Annual Homecoming 1996  | 23rd Annual Homecoming 1997 | 24th Annual Homecoming 1998 | 25th Annual Homecoming 1999 | 26th Annual Homecoming 2000 | 27th Annual Homecoming 2001 | 28th Annual Homecoming  2002  | 29th Annual Homecoming 2003 |30th Annual Homecoming 2004 | 31st Annual Homecoming 2005 | 32nd Annual Homecoming 2006 | 33rd Annual Homecoming 2007 | 34th Annual Homecoming 2008 | 35th Annual Homecoming 2009 |

Please plan to join us in sharing pictures and stories from previous and future HOMECOMING celebrations!

Join Us For Our 36th Anniversary Homecoming Celebration!