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Dog club advances German Shepherd breed

The German Shepherd Dog Club of America was formed in 1913 and incorporated Feb. 7, 1916, by Anne Tracy, Margaret C. Throop, Edith May Schley, Vemon Castle, John Volkman, Paul Huhn, and B.R. Ruggles.

The organization, which promotes the breeding of the German Shepherd dog and urges adoption of a standard by which the dog is to be judged.

The club also advances the interests of the breed by offering prizes, supporting shows, encouraging the development of working qualities.

Characteristics as police dog, war dog, Red Cross dog and herding dog are promoted in trial and in demonstrations in which those qualities may be shown.

Lehigh German Shepherd Club President Melody Hughes, also a trainer, said the club, a regional breed club under the American Kennel Club and German Shepherd Dog Club of America, was formed in 1965.

“We want to let people know the club is here to help educate the public on German Shepherds and responsible ownership,” Hughes said.

Jeannine Burd said the club takes part in many meet-and-greet events.

“Some dogs are for show; some are obedience trained and some make excellent Therapy Dogs,” Burd said. “And some people just like German Shepherds.

Burd was proud to add a German Shepherd won overall and best in show at the Westminister Dog Show, something a German Shepherd had not done in 35 years.

According to the American Kennel Club, the dogs are second in popularity in the country.

Hughes said they are a wonderful, versatile breed.

Charlotte Williams said they are great as agility dogs and service dogs.

“We have a German Shepherd show every year in Bally in March,” Burd said. There are classes for canine learning in Allentown in February to educate the public.

“We try to show the people who may have had a bad experience as a youngster how versatile they are,” Burd said.

Hughes said the regional clubs are an invaluable source for learning about the breed and proper socialization and that training is needed.

They offer obedience classes to the public for all breeds. If anyone is interested they should contact 610-435-7835 or melrysummerfire@msn.com.

We have a lot of activities within the club during summer. There are picnics with the dogs, demonstrations sometimes by request and speakers. To a member of the club the programs are free.

A Christmas party with the dogs is held at Lehigh Lodge 326, 2120 Route 100, Macungie, which is where regular meetings are held every third Sunday.

A “no fleas flea market” will be held at the Lodge 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 24.

Hughes said they encourage new members so they keep the club growing. At present, there are 40 members.

People need to exercise the dogs rather than just keeping them in crates. Williams said if the owner will be gone more than eight hours someone should be asked to come in and walk the dogs. Burd said hers has the run of the house but she has a small mixed breed that has to be crated.

All club dogs have had the education to know how to behave among people.

They are being used for Seeing Eye and emotional support work. As Therapy Dogs they go only where they are invited such as nursing homes, hospitals and even airports where people occasionally get anxiety attacks.

“People call and say they need a Therapy Dog,” Burd said.

Some are trained to do “nose” work” for jobs such as Search and Rescue.

Two club members took their dogs to 9/11. They are trained for herding, and Williams adds “water rescue” to their abilities.

A breeder can often provide more breed-specific help than a veterinarian.

Nancy Walker said a person should get a dog from a dependable breeder and then keep in touch with that person. Many breeders will ask the new owner to give reports on how the dog is doing.

Walker said she had one dog owner who would bring her dog back to visit and would bring treats for all the other dogs.

Press photo by Elsa KerschnerMary Lou Stout with Zara, Joanne Hines with Jake, Jeannine Burd with Deita, and Charlotte Williams with Ayla attended a recent meeting of the Lehigh German Shepherd Dog Club at Lehigh Lodge 326, 2120 Route 100, Macungie. The dogs show the variety within the breed.