By: William C. Reynolds
Being at home on the range to many means having a sense of peace -- wherever one resides. Some high-profile Westerners have chosen the path to personal peace by having what has become known today as personal “protection dogs,” or Schutzhund in German.; The Schutzhund-trained German Shepherd is among the most highly trained working dogs in the world. Prized for their loyalty as well as their unmatched protection skills, the dogs‘ German training methodology dates back over 100 years. Here in America, Rosie Westerman runs the International K-9 Imports in Southern California. Under her supervision, Dean Calderon, the 2003 American Working Dog Championship winner and a 25-year veteran in the field, serves as training director. Calderon selects dogs based on temperament, bloodlines, and his finely honed instinct and trains them to be the best. Westerman places the dogs with discerning owners who see them as great companions as well as highly trained 24/7 personal protection.
By: Bari Hochwald
In the United States, the top source of Schutzhund (German for “protection dog”) German Shepherds is the International K9 Imports run by Rosie Westerman, who was raised and educated in Germany where the Schutzhund training tradition goes back over 100 years. Dean Calderon, the company‘s Executive Director and 2003 American Working Dog Championship Winner, is recognized as one of the world‘s top trainers of Schutzhund German Shepherds. Floyd Red Crow Westerman is the company‘s honorary President. Known for his work as an actor (Dances with Wolves, The Doors, X-Files), country folk singer, and respected American Indian activist, Floyd brings his unique perspective, tradition, heritage, and respect for animals to the International K9 Imports.
You had to run to the store to get that last minute item for dinner and couldn‘t convince your twelve-year-old daughter to come along. You arrive home and open the door to the security system which assured you she would be fine. Do you have to de-program an alarm or unlock several bolts? No, you lean down and pet the head of the German Shepherd which lovingly greets you at the door. You know your daughter has been in good hands because she‘s been left with a very special dog. One that has been trained for years and hand-selected for your family. I spoke recently with Rosie Westerman and Dean Calderon about what makes their Schutzhund German Shepherds and their business so unique.
R.W.: First of all, I love and believe in German Shepherds. They are a great asset to families, less mobile individuals and single people. Shepherds are wonderful, noble companions, and the most versatile and loyal dog. The Level III Schutzhund training takes 2 years to complete, and all dogs are imported from Germany, where centuries of breeding offer a superior animal for this special work. The dogs really take to their family and care for them.
D.C.: Dogs like Rin Tin Tin don‘t exist anymore in the United States. But they do in Germany. The Schutzhund trained dogs meet the highest standards of quality and pass numerous evaluation tests.
R.W.: When selecting a dog for a family we often travel to Germany to check the dogs out. We then bring the dogs here and work with the client. We take many factors into account: whether our client has children, if they are sedentary or active, live in the country or the city, if they have rabbits, cats or other dogs.
D.C.: We look for dogs that are family-raised. We go to the training fields to see if the dog is strong. We watch how the dog behaves around the house. Then we take him to town into stores and restaurants to see how he is in public. What we‘re looking for is his bonding ability, if he‘s totally comfortable in all environments.
R.W.: There is a growing interest in having a loving protective four-legged companion. The dogs are great for women alone. A Schutzhund-trained Shepherd will enter the house and search every room before you go in. They are so highly trained that they can accompany the family to Starbucks and be petted by everyone there, yet the dog will lay down his life for his family. They love to play and are very protective of kids.
D.C.: I‘ve been training dogs for over 25 years. I love it. Schutzhund dogs exist on the level of relationship that you can‘t even put a value on. The rewards are astounding. People from all over the world want Schutzhund dogs and the market makes the price. Before the owner meets the dog, it has been trained every day of its life for two years. It‘s important to remember this dog is not a loaded gun you can sick on a person. A Schutzhund dog is a highly trained family companion who will lay his life on the line for you.
R.W.: They are trained in “hold and bark..” The dog will hold the bad guy in place and bark at them. The first response is simply to stop the person.
D.C.: These dogs are like getting a Ferrari or a Porsche. You have to care for them. When a dog stops working, he lowers his intelligence and then what is he worth? It would be like a human being not learning to read or write.
If you would like additional references in connection with making a purchase or hiring us for training / dog shows please contact us.