ARTICLES »Why Are We Here?

This section is comprised of letters by our members.

The Shiloh Shepherd - New beginnings

-by Gloria Setterlund, Noble Acres Shiloh Shepherds

Slowly through the years Shiloh Shepherd breeders have been leaving the registry/club of origin (ISSR/SSDCA) to be joined by others who are brave enough to make their own way through the perils and hardships of making a new breed come to a realization. Although the founder vows that it can't be done because she is the only one who "holds the recipe", the proof is in the number of these "breakaway" breeders, and the final show of temperaments and conformation that adhere to the breed standard written by her. In addition, because of the extensive health testing done by the "breakaway" breeders, we can claim far greater health standards.

From the founder's own Matrix it can be seen that breeders leave the organization at an amazing rate. Although the founder claims breeders leave because of greed, it just doesn't make sense. Why would EVERYONE leave to trek out on their own because of greed? Or does it make more sense that after they are there long enough to see what is REALLY going on that they leave out of respect for the breed? And doesn't it make more sense that many more get forced out when they try to question the lies, the secrets, and the show of pure hatred cast upon those who dare not conform to the "program"? It happens over and over, year after year. One good ethical breeder after another. And they're still leaving the ISSR!!!

Here are a few facts that I am sure a lot of newer people may not know. The Shiloh Shepherd became a rare breed in 1991. That means it has only been called Shiloh Shepherds for 13 years. How many know that us "splinters" have been "splinters" since 1997? So if you do the math we have been around more than half the years the breed has been in existence :-)

Another fact is that many of us have been around a long time. Some before the Shiloh Shepherd was called Shilohs. Many of us have been around since 1992, '93, '94, '95, '96. We are compiling a list of non-ISSR breeders that are still actively breeding and the year they became involved with the Shiloh Shepherd. It may shock those that have listened to the propaganda on how there are just a few of us that will not last long. In fact, if you look at the ISSR breeders matrix, there are NO breeders still with them and actively breeding before 1996! Even then, there are only 2 breeders still around since 1996, 2 since 1997, 2 since 1998, and 2 actively breeding from 1999. I would think that would make new people take pause at why no one stays with that organization!

To remove ourselves from the ISSR is the only way for some of us to continue breeding to the high standards we set for ourselves. To remove ourselves from the ISSR is the only way we believe we could, in good conscience, continue breeding the dogs we all love so much. The backlash for this is that we get called "puppymills" by those people who are so fearful of losing puppy sales. But by God, we've quickly climbed to the top just by our good reputations!

These non-ISSR breeders are showing in the top rarebreed shows and WINNING!!! They are breeding the TOP dogs in the country! They are not ashamed of their dogs and can be found all over the country showing them off and competing against other Shiloh Shepherds and rare breeds. The dogs from these kennels are doing SAR work, therapy, herding, obedience, agility and more! They have a terrific following from their puppy buyers because they stand by the puppies they raise in their homes/kennels.

At the founder's own Homecoming event in 2001 Dr George Padgett held a seminar and stated that the Shiloh Shepherd MUST have an OPEN genetic data base to get control of genetic disease. Data was collected and a profile drawn up and published on the internet. But the information was never made available to the breeders to aid in their selection of genetically suitable mates for their dogs. At this time the "breakaway" breeders have already set up a database that is filling with information quite rapidly. The information is made public and will stay public. Being open and honest about our genetic problems is the only way to address the issues - and we're the only Shiloh Shepherd breeders doing this!

Through the years there have been a number of attempts by Shiloh Shepherd breeders to regroup. Not to say that these small groups/registries aren't getting along on their own. On the contrary, they're doing just fine in their own small groups. But now the Shiloh Shepherd breeders are once again together and are beginning to outshine even what the ISSR once was in its heyday.

And now we are resurrecting the International Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club (ISSDC)! I hope to see all the Shiloh Shepherd breeders, enthusiasts, and family members join in membership. We have so many exciting things coming up for our breed, wonderful ideas to breed better and healthier dogs, and now we all have a chance to be a part if it, together.

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Virginia's Story

by Virginia Storey, Shilohs of Kai-Lyn

Introduction: I originally dove head first into Shiloh Shepherds. And like every newbie does, I searched the web for information on this breed, joined every group, and quickly decided it was the breed founder who I wanted to get my Shiloh Shepherd puppy from.

Contribution: I work in the film industry, and upon reading the breed history written on the ISSR site, I was sold on the concept of filming a documentary called the “Birth of a Breed”, being that Shiloh Shepherds are such a new breed with a living “breed founder” too boot! I hired a crew and spent a good two years interviewing and filming various ISSR breeders and owners, in addition to hundreds of hours spent with the breed founder herself.

Disillusionment: I noticed after a while of being privy to casual conversations with the breed founder and her higher-ups, that there were radical inconsistencies in what was being said vs. what was being done. The capper for me was when I witnessed some of her puppy owners being raked through the coals and publicly humiliated because they learned they had been misinformed as to their puppy’s genetic heritage. It was very difficult for me to deal with. How could I continue to produce videos and build a documentary about a person who I knew in my heart was defrauding people? The details go much deeper than this, which I may divulge in a future article.

Realization: Oh boy…those nasty splinter group people! How could they rip off the breed founder for everything she’s worked for!! Aghast! How could they continue to USE her breed name in order to SELL puppies! They obviously don’t know ANYTHING about breeding dogs! Why, they must be no more than PUPPY-MILLERS! How gross!!! At the least, they should CHANGE THE NAME of their dogs! For 2,000 YEARS I’ve been CREATING the Shiloh Shepherd, and HOW DARE THOSE “SLIVERS” claim to be calling their dogs Shiloh Shepherds! BLASPHEMY!

It’s laughable, really. Once you’ve got your head out of the sand, it becomes clear that every so called “splinter” (current insult – “sliver”) breeder was just a normal person who originally bought into the breed founder's hype, like everyone else. But in their own time, they realized what B.S. is happening. One by one they leave. AND it’s not because they are “greedy puppy-millers”, like the breed founder would tell you! They are MORAL INDIVIDUALS!!! It just took them their own time to sort through the crap within the ISSR in order to find their direction! The great epiphany will happen for every ISSR person, given time.

The future: Up until recently, and due to different people leaving the ISSR at different times, various “splinter” Shiloh Shepherd registries have been formed. The reason for the existence of these multiple registries has been the basic necessity for these former-ISSR breeders to find some kind of a home to register the many Shiloh Shepherds they’ve morally pulled from the ISSR registry, and ultimately from the breed founder’s unscrupulous practices. These various “splinter” registries are very active on the Show circuit as well as in promoting the Working and Humanitarian disciplines available to our dogs! In 2004 a new mother-club was created to accept Shiloh Shepherds from every registry. Welcome to the ISSDC!

The Present: I brought home my first Shiloh, Sarge, “Kai-Lyn’s Sargent of Zion” in 2001 as a potential TOP STUD for the ISSR. Although he was subsequently graded by the OFA with Grade ll Elbow dysplasia and OFA Grade ll Unilateral Hip dysplasia (his 2 yr. OFA results), in addition to really bad teeth (Enamel Hypoplasia) he’s a GREAT DOG! Thanks to New Zion for the health problems, and thanks also for not responding to any of my reported results! What an ethical kennel – NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can’t fault Sarge where his structure and temperament are concerned. But I swore I’d never get another Shiloh due to what I'd learned about the breed founders practices, and what I'd been brain-washed about the "splinters". I was really turned off by the politics.

I hesitantly decided to help out a friend of mine (Wendy) for the sake of Shilohs, in creating a new website for the ISSDC. I wasn't sure I wanted to get involved again after what I'd been through, but something was telling me I should do it. I've always believed that things happen FOR A REASON. I've been helping the ISSDC as a webmaster for since 2004, and I'm thrilled about the promising future of the Shiloh Shepherd breed.

One day I saw a picture. A picture of a 2nd generation out-crossed, non ISSR puppy, from a “splinter breeder” no less!!! The health stats for both the sire and dam and their ancestors were all supplied along with every official number you’d care to cross-reference. The reputations and longevity of the breeders were all there too. Thank you Nancy Dietz, for entrusting me with the magnificent Carter! I’ve also added Cadence, my beautiful gray sable girl from Judy Vaneman and Jan Berman. We currently have 3 Shiloh's and plan on breeding with care and conscience in the future. I’ll update the Yahoo Group with info as my dogs mature.

I LOVE THE BREED STANDARD OF THE SHILOH SHEPHERD! If I can be so fortunate to always find a breeder of healthy, happy Shiloh Shepherds, I’ll be a happy gal.

That's why I'm here.

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Becky's Story

by Becky Althoff, Catoctin Shilohs

My first introduction with the Shiloh was a very tiny picture of a male on the cover of "The origins of the Shiloh" that I saw in an ad out of Dog Fancy. I called several breeders; all who were wonderful people. The problem was, though, that there was a wide variation in prices at that time between all the breeders, so I called the breed founder. What a surprise, HER prices were cheaper than ANY other breeder by several hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.

I placed a deposit on a litter. I went to Shearing, NY to see the litter at 8 weeks of age. That was my first intro to the BF. She asked me to help her with the LER. I told her that I had experience with GSD's prior to this. After going through the entire litter, I told her there wasn't a dog present that didn't have a fairly obvious fault…overshot bites, too leggy, poor ear sets, or narrow…. she agreed and told me that I could pick a dog from her kennel…. anything with the exception of one golden puppy that was in a puppy pen. My husband and I searched the kennels. Large numbers of puppies were placed in kennel runs, their kennels soiled with fecal matter that they slung on us as they jumped at the kennel wiring.

The adults were in small, side by side kennels in the back. Grass and weeds grew up and around the kennels, the condition of those kennels…. horrid and shocking. There was a female in a kennel with another male, her earflap swollen thick and full of blood, an obvious hematoma of the ear. When asked what had happened, the BF brushed it off as something they were dealing with. The dog stood very still, her head cocked to one side, obviously in pain. I searched the kennels further…nothing I saw was something that I would want to take home, at least not for a show prospect, maybe a rescue prospect, but no show dogs were present in what I saw. She told me I could have a puppy from another litter.

It ranked up there as one of the largest, most shocking moments I have ever had. Where was the BF that spoke of all her accomplishments with the Shiloh? Where were all the magnificent dogs that she promised? Where were the "better than all other breeds" healthy dogs? These dogs were all soiled, unsocialzed, uncared for, and neglected animals. I wanted to run. My husband's reply to all this, he turned his back to the BF and whispered, "Get me the hell out of here".

We rode home, our thoughts resting on the horrors of what we had just witnessed and disbelieving its reality. We had driven 6 hours up with enthusiasm; we drove 6 hours home in silence.

The rest of my story under the ISSR and the BF's deception is all-downhill. Learning about the true core and heart of the BF, was frightening. Hearing the propaganda that is sold to the public is nothing short of a hideous scam from a top notch scam artist. Falsified papers, "misplaced information", hidden truths, threats, a constant need for "funding" of some catastrophic need of the Shiloh, that ends up in the pocket of the BF benefiting only the BF's needs, a swinging door of breeders never lasting more than 5 years, living in the ISSR's need for constant turmoil. I witnessed, first hand, the constant neglect of animals, the ranting, raving and yelling about anything and everything, the backstabbing towards her own breeders, name calling, the continuous melodrama which soon became obvious that she fed on it, thrived on it, even looked for it. And all this, she said came as her gifts from God. I have never known God to give out such "gifts".

In the end, I ended up with a sickly, Mistie/Laz puppy; a dual, black and tan plush female. It took me months to recover her from her illnesses that she came home with. I had requested a gray sable, smooth male. At 15 months old, Hannah was OFA'd and came up moderately dysplastic. I was blamed for her dysplasia, and it was said that she either was injured or that I did something wrong that caused her dysplasia. The breed founder fought me when I decided to spay her…after all, she was co-owned, and she wanted her bred. Hannah eventually died at the age of 7 from Lymphatic Leukemia. To this day, I miss her. Although she was not what I had asked for, and in spite of all her quirks, she wiggled her way deep into my heart.

You want to know, "Why I Am Here" with the united group of the "oxymorons, splinters, and slivers"…? Sharing, caring, peace, truth, honesty, openness, togetherness, strength, a shared vision, a common goal, and a true striving to breed only the best of the best to keep the true standard of the magnificent Shiloh Shepherd alive.

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Dawn's Story

by Dawn Swick, BelleGrace Shilohs

I was born and raised with the German Shepherd, my best friend always at my side. So when my husband and I purchased our first house, we also purchased our first GSD puppy. While she was an awesome dog, she was not what I remembered a shepherd should be from when I was a child. One day, looking through a dog magazine, I came across an ad for the “Shiloh Shepherd”. I quickly showed my husband, telling him THIS was what I remembered as a child, THIS was what a real shepherd should be, and our next dog would be a SHILOH!

My father fell very ill over the next few years, many things were placed on back burners so I could help my mother in his care. In January 2000, we said our final goodbyes to him in this world. I was devastated, as my father and I were so close. He is where I received my love of dogs and all animals. About three weeks later, still grieving over my loss, I was searching the Internet and came across the breed founders web site. It detailed how she tragically lost her home to fire. She was searching for homes for many of her dogs. I understood her grief, so we made contact and arranged for one of her treasured Shilohs to come home with us.

We made the six hour trip to Gainesville in March of 2000, our expectations high. We had left right after church, were nicely dressed, and made a day of it, stopping for lunch. We arrived on time, waiting at the end of the drive as instructed. We waited and waited, and finally the breed founders daughter showed up about an hour late. We followed her down the long driveway and crossed the bridge, pulling up in front of a burned out shell of a building. When we stepped out, my husband just looked at me, as we sunk into two inch deep mud. The smell was foul, there was a mountain of garbage, the dogs filthy, matted and thin. I quickly glanced over every pen, and immediately focused on one girl. She was my Vickey. How did I know her without ever seeing a picture of her? I’m not sure, but I walked directly over to her pen and said, “This is Vickey, isn’t it?” It was verified. A three foot wide mud run, about eight foot long with a dog house at the end. Most every dog was kept like this, and all I thought was ‘THIS is the breed founders kennel? Oh Lord, help us all.” We removed Vickey from her pen, and she crawled in between my feet, looking up at me with those soulful eyes. How could I not take her home? We paid for her by check after agreeing on a c/o, loaded her in the car and drove home with the windows down as she just reeked. My husband and I were so disappointed as we had such high expectations.

Why did I stay after seeing these horrid conditions? I made excuses, as they just had a fire, their lives were upside down, etc. Things would get better I thought. Well, Vickey only weighed 62 pounds when I took her to the vet. My vet was appalled at her condition. She was loaded with round, hook and whip worms. She was quickly treated several times and soon she began to blossom.

Vickey loved being a house dog, and she was on a c/o, so I took her in to have her hips done. I was amazed when she came back moderately dysplastic at the age of 35 months by OFA terms. She had already produced a litter for them, so how could she be dysplastic if they practiced what they preached? I was promised a breeding quality, PROVEN brood bitch, but alas, was not shown any health certifications. I refused to breed her when I found out both of her sisters were also moderately dysplastic. I was owed a replacement pup, which I received in Dec 2000. To make a long story short, this bitch was also dysplastic at the age of 24 months, as well as several more dogs I acquired from New Zion.

Where were all the wonderful healthy Shilohs they professed to produce? I was told it was my fault, that I didn’t exercise them enough, I used the wrong supplements, or that they must have injured themselves. Well I started doing research and saw that the “sliver” breeders, the renegrades or "escapees from the ISSR" as I like to refer to us, were producing the good hips! They boasted on their web sites all of the health testing! Why didn’t the breed founder do this? When asked, I was told that documentation didn’t mean anything, and it was all the LMI/LMX data that was important. I asked myself, “How could you have any LMI/LMX indicating good hips when my experience was all bad hips. Why are your dogs not on the OFA site? If they pass, they should be up there. I went to the OFA site and checked it out. Then I started to hear from other breeders, and puppy customers, that also had been down the same road as I was now traveling.

Unfortunately it took me six years to finally accept that they would not change their ways. I thought I could make a difference and really did try. Every breeder before me has done the same. So now I am called a traitor for walking away, and accused of taking dogs that were honestly owed to me. Well, so be it. But I can once again walk proud and hold my head up high. I am a good ethical Shiloh Shepherd breeder, and have joined the ranks of fellow honest breeders, all working together to improve this breed. We are not perfect, no one is, but we are striving for the best we can be, so we can produce the best that can be produced.

Final words and a warning, before you purchase a Shiloh. Do not buy into the ISSR hype as it will only bring you heartache. If they can not produce written health documentation, run the other way. Search until you find a breeder that you feel comfortable with that can back up what they say.

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