CHRIS & TIM WILD
Chris grew up surrounded by animals. There weren’t other kids her age in the small neighborhood where she lived, so the majority of her friends had fur or feathers. Her childhood dogs included a Cocker Spaniel, a variety of mutts… and lots of German Shepherds. Her free time and summer vacations as a child found her with her pets and her favorite pastimes were taking bike rides through the neighborhood accompanied by a GSD, or just lying under a tree in the front yard reading a book using a GSD as a back rest while her pet rabbits wandered about. As she got older and hit the horse crazy stage that young girls often go through, many evenings and weekends were spent at a local barn where she took riding lessons and helped care for horses in exchange for extra lessons or just borrowing a horse to go off trail riding for a few hours.
While Tim grew up in a rural area with plenty of wildlife and farm critters in the vicinity, his childhood pet experience was limited to a couple of Miniature Schnauzers when he was very young. He has always had a love of the outdoors and fascination with animals, just not a lot of experience with them until he began dating someone who not only had family animals still back home but also a small zoo (that included some prohibited critters!) in her college dorm room. Having animals… hopefully eventually lots of animals… figured into their goals as they graduated college and started planning their life together. Chris knew she wanted to get a GSD puppy and get involved in some sort of dog training. As he also enjoyed shooting sports, Tim thought of one day getting a hunting dog as he was captivated by the idea of spending time outdoors together, the amazing abilities of purpose bred dogs, and the partnership that would develop between man and beast through pursuit of activities that the dog was designed to do.
Shortly after getting married and purchasing their first house, Chris got that GSD puppy joined a club to give schutzhund a try. Tim tagged along and soon found that German Shepherds were every bit as amazing as Chris had told him they were and that schutzhund checked all of the boxes in terms of time spent outdoors, dogs doing work they were bred for generations to perform, and developing an incredible bond and working partnership together. Before long he also joined the club and began shopping for a GSD puppy of his own to train. They soon found that dogs were their passion. They read every book and watched every video that they could find on dog training in general, and GDSs and schutzhund in particular. Had online classes existed back then, they certainly would have filled their free time with them. While participating regularly at SchH club training and titling their dogs, they also volunteered as assistants with a police K9 trainer to develop additional working dog specific knowledge and skills. Chris worked a second job teaching pet obedience classes for a few years, and Tim worked in a pet store managing the small animal and fish section and later as a dog groomer. After several years mentoring under a couple of local working line GSD breeders, learning as much as they could about the combined science and art that goes into producing good working GDSs, Chris and Tim bred their first litter and in January 2002 Wildhaus Kennels was born.
In the decades since, the family has expanded to include horses, cats, aquariums full of fish and a barnyard of poultry on top of the ever present pack of German Shepherds, all nestled on a 10 acre paradise in rural southern Michigan. We have trained and titled multiple generations of our dogs in schutzhund as well as a range of other dog sports, and also host a small schutzhund training club where we spend our Saturdays enjoying the company of wonderful friends as we all work together training dogs. While we believe that training and titling is important, particularly in developing and maintaining our exceptional breeding program, our true love of the German Shepherd Dog stems from living with them and sharing almost every aspect of our daily lives with these wonderful dogs. These are not just breeding stock or dog sport partners, they are our constant companions and we enjoy them first and foremost as members of our family.
DIANNA HEVERLY, LVT, CCRP, CPDT-KA, FFCP
Like Chris, Dianna grew up with a variety of pets and this instilled a life long love of animals. After a few years working at a dog boarding/training/grooming facility that was operated by a schutzhund trainer, she developed an interest in GSDs and formal dog training, specifically schutzhund. She found a local, fledgling working line GSD breeder that had a male puppy available from their first litter. She purchased that puppy, joined a schutzhund club, and began her formal dog career, eventually titling her first dog to SchH3. That puppy was Argo vom Wildhaus. So to say that Dianna has been with us from the beginning isn’t an exaggeration.
Over the next few years, a deep friendship developed and Dianna jumped at just about any opportunity to get more hands on experience with anything and everything dog related. She assisted with breedings and whelping and socializing puppies and found she had an interest in breeding herself. So for her second dog we entered into a co-own arrangement for a breeding prospect female puppy. That first co-own puppy became MACH Eris vom Wildhaus SchH3(6x), IPO3 (2x), AWD1, P1, FO, RA, MX, MXJ, MJB, OF, T2B, CGC, TT. Eris was not only one of the very few dogs ever in history to obtain both SchH/IPO3 as well as a Master Agility Championship (MACH) but also became a successful broodbitch for Wildhaus Kennels, leaving her mark on future generations that are still present in the breeding program today.
Dianna isn’t just a friend and training partner or co-owner, she has for years been an integral part of our breeding program. She’s raised, trained and titled multiple generations of Wildhaus Kennels brood bitches, whelping and raising many litters with great care to providing loving and enriched environments. Not only are her training skills amazing, as is evidenced by her accomplishments in a variety of training venues, but her puppy raising skills are second to none. Dog club friends often refer to her as “the puppy whisperer” for the passion she shows to ensuring that every puppy has the best possible start in life.
Dianna is also a Licensed Veterinary Technician and Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner who has worked in the veterinary field for many years giving her a wealth of medical knowledge to draw upon. As if she isn’t kept busy enough by her job at the vet clinic, training her own GSDs in SchH and her Border Collie for agility, and working closely with us as our breeding partner, she also has a side business offering in home boarding, board and train, and puppy training/socialization services. As she says on her own website, www.k9-fundamentals.com, everything she does is dogs!
We have all been actively training and titling dogs for many years now and while SchH/IPO is our primary pursuit we also enjoy participating in a variety of other dog sports with our canine partners. We value these activities both as breed tests for working GSDs and as enjoyable and challenging hobbies to share with our dogs. In addition to our own dogs, Chris and Tim have worked with police K9 handlers in training tracking and patrol dogs, and Dianna has worked as breeding specialist and puppy raiser for an organization that produces Labs and GSDs for detection work.
We consider ourselves to be hobby breeders as, unlike many in the dog breeding world, we do not make a living off dogs and are never in a position to need to produce and sell dogs for financial reasons. We all have regular jobs to pay the bills and to afford us the opportunity to spend our non-working time focusing on our passion for GSDs. We focus on quality, not quantity, putting a great deal of time and effort into planning breedings and raising our puppies. Our small, in-home environment allow us to provide all of our puppies with a great deal of personal attention, enrichment and socialization before they go to their new homes.
All of our breeding dogs are titled and fully health tested, thus proving themselves of good health and structure, sound temperament and nerve, and strong working ability before they begin their breeding careers. We also expect our breeding dogs to be able to be just normal dogs doing normal dog things in normal, every day life. We have no interest in owning or breeding, much less living with, dogs who are so extreme that they are working dogs only and cannot be pets. Our dogs live in the house, sleep in the bed, cuddle on the couch binging TV, run about outdoors playing freely with one another and spend far more of their day to day life as companions than they do actively training. We also enjoy taking our dogs along with us for hikes, walks downtown, outdoor festivals, shopping pet friendly stores and hanging out on restaurant patios and expect them to show the soundness, discernment and sociability needed to allow them to enjoy and participate in these activities. Contrary to what many claim, it is NOT “all in how you raise them”. While proper raising and training is of course important for any dog, this stability and balance of temperament is rooted in genetics and no amount of training or socialization can change genetics. The GSD breed is a breed of balance, and that involves turning off when not working as much as it does turning on when it is time to work. We value that balance highly and we strive to maintain it in our breeding program.
About Our Breeding Program
We breed only top quality German Shepherd Dogs from European working bloodlines. You will not find any American or European show line dogs here. Our goal as breeders is to preserve the fundamental characteristics of the German Shepherd Dog, and promote the traits that make this breed great. We do this by only breeding dogs with proven working ability, superb nerve and temperament, excellent health and sound physical structure. The German Shepherd Dog is a breed that can do anything, and we strive for this in our breedings.
Much of our involvement in schutzhund/IPO and other dog sport venues stems not just from the enjoyment we get from participating in these activities, but because they also serve as superb tools for evaluating breeding stock. Schutzhund was originally designed as a breed worthiness test for the German Shepherd Dog, with the express purpose of weeding out those dogs that did not exhibit proper nerve, character and working ability and removing them from the gene pool. It is still used as such in Germany, where puppies cannot be registered unless both parents are titled in schutzhund or herding. This requirement that the dog first prove itself a good representative of the GSD prior to breeding, as well as pass strict tests of health and structural evaluation, is a major factor in why the dogs of European bloodlines are generally considered to be of better quality than those of American stock, as the American breed registries like AKC have no requirements for breeding beyond both parents being purebreds; no health or temperament testing is required.
Today, while not a perfect evaluation, schutzhund (now called IPO/IGP) remains one of the most stringent and comprehensive methods for ensuring that the German Shepherd Dog breed remains true to its working heritage. The schutzhund requirements for a dog to be proficient in tracking, obedience and protection work in order to earn a schutzhund title also ensure that the breed remains the all around "Jack of all trades" working dog that it was intended to be. This training provides important knowledge as to the dog's temperament and abilities, and helps separate dogs who possess the proper characteristics to be an asset to the breed from those who should not be bred.
Because we believe that the more varied and comprehensive the training and titling a dog undergoes the better, in addition to SchH we frequently title our dogs in a variety of other dogsports as well. We also put them through nationally recognized temperament testing with the American Temperament Test Society and AKC's Canine Good Citizen Program. Taking our dogs to widely different environments to have them objectively evaluated under vastly different standards and programs by judges with varied backgrounds, provides not only more activities to enjoy with our dogs but also significantly more knowledge about each dog's core temperament to assist us with breeding decisions. With this in mind, we require that all of our breeding dogs are titled (usually in multiple venues), as well as hip/elbow certified and health screened, before beginning their breeding careers.
From a breeding standpoint, while titles are fundamental measures of breed worthiness and provide an official record of achievement and objective evaluation, that is only a part of their merit. Even more important from a breeder's perspective is what is learned about the dog along the way. It is the time spent together working and training toward that title that is the most valuable when it comes to evaluating temperament and working ability, and in this sense the journey to a title is even more important than the title itself. With this in mind, we choose to raise, train and title our dogs ourselves, rather than purchase already trained or titled dogs, or send our dogs off to have breeding titles put on them by professional trainers. While we occasionally obtain dogs from other breeders in order to enhance our bloodlines and expand the gene pool, the majority of our breeding dogs are from multiple generations of our own breeding program and Handler Owned and Trained (HOT).
This can be a slow road at times as each and every title obtained represents a large commitment of time, energy and money. But it is well worth it. A thorough training program that pushes the dog's limits is the surest way to bring to light all that lies in the depths of a dog's personality, and schutzhund is without a doubt one of the most comprehensive and stringent training programs out there. Through the training process, we become intimately familiar with each dog's strengths and weaknesses and gain a thorough knowledge of his or her individual traits and working ability, which in turn helps us make good breeding decisions. Thus we are able to ensure that pups from our kennel will be true to their working heritage, and able to carry on the legacy that has made the German Shepherd Dog the most popular and versatile breed in the world.
Dogs from our breedings are excelling in schutzhund/IPO and other protection sports, agility, competitive obedience, herding, law enforcement, detection, tracking/trailing, nosework, search and rescue, service work, farm work and personal protection, while at the same time serving their families as trustworthy, loving and devoted companions. There is no better dog in the world than a good German Shepherd Dog, and that's what you will find at Wildhaus Kennels.