One woman's journey into the development of the Shiloh Shepherd Dog

Chapter One

I watched as the decoy went for a pass at Tammy. She ran out like a bolt of lightning to jump him, growling, her teeth flying.  Then, without warning, my two-year-old son came out of nowhere. He ran up and grabbed the dog.

 It all happened so fast there was nothing I could have done to stop it. There was no way a dog in that state of frenzy could be expected to do anything but bite Johnny to death.  I had seen dogs worked up to such a pitch, that they would even turn and bite their handlers if they got too close.

This picture of 12 year old Lisa working with Countesa was taken by the Daily News photographer for a factual article about  Shiloh Shepherd that was published in 1989. But this dog Tammy just stopped. She stopped in mid-air to avoid hurting my baby  Instinctively Tammy knew the difference between an enemy and a child, and she knew how to switch gears in a fraction of a second. I hadn't seen . . . .

Additional Topics


Germany—the early days
America—a new frontier
Schutzhund – a “natural” is born
Teenage Years – the other side of the fence
“Teaching” instead of “Training”
The Southern Circuit
On My Own

Chapter Two

I would spend nearly a year raising and training one of my puppies for someone, devoting at least two to three hours per day to active training and socialization. Then, without warning, the dog would start limping. At that point I would slow down the training procedures, hoping the problem would correct itself, but often it did not. I lost a lot of my training time, and a lot of money, to bad hips.

Canine hip dysplasia really motivated me to fight.

When those excellent dogs would all of the sudden become too crippled to continue the grueling work that Schutzhund demands, I finally saw that I had a mission.

Nine year old Lisa with Shane's pet quality brother (Gentle Ben) while my horse, Saint, watches.

Additional Topics

Konigin Kennel
Holy Hill
Challenging Hip Dysplasia
Unexpected Changes
Lowest Moment
Miraculous Changes
The Shiloh Shepherd Is Born

Chapter Three

One morning, my mom had a slight cold, and there was no school that day, so she thought she’d sleep in. Mitzie could not understand why my mom was not getting up, so she went into my mother’s room and stuck her wet nose into her ear. That was not amusing, and my Mom told her to get lost! 

Not wanting to miss out on the fun of playing with the little children, Mitzie decided to be a little more persistent. There was a nightstand and a metal magazine rack between my Mom's bed and the wall, so Mitzie went into the kitchen and got her stainless steel water dish, then returned with it in her mouth and started banging it as hard as she could against the metal rack.  That got mom out of bed fast, although not in the best of moods!

My mother (Anita) with her believed Deeder (1984-1998), first cousin to the amazing Mitzi (pictured in the book).

Additional Topics

The Shiloh Shepherds Begin to Amaze
Lisa and Shep
Getting it Right
A Time to Decide
Common Sense Seminars
Genetic Inheritance Made Simple
Puppy Mills
Ursa—Another Life-Saving Shiloh

Chapter Four

There’s a lot of heartbreak involved in dog breeding, and I thought I was prepared to handle it, but that Parvo Virus was almost more than I could take. Things had been riding high, and everything was looking phenomenal, and then it crashed and burned so quickly. I lost nearly all of what I cared about most. An epidemic like that is like dealing with the Black Plague or a natural disaster, like a tornado or a flood, it just happens. The odds of having to deal with several major disasters in your lifetime are much higher if you choose to breed dogs for a living. Parvo took me down a big hill and it took me a very long time to build back up, both financially and emotionally.
Ensomhed's Luke Von Shiloh full brother to "THE" Ursa and sire of the top foundation dogs (referred to as the Ursa line) that continue to make a great impact on the entire breed.

Additional Topics

Shearing Road—Full Force
A Special Homecoming
My Kids Learn the Trade
Personal Protection
Dogs Are Changing
Letting Go of the AKC
Pondering a Split

Chapter Five

Once I brought in Samson, I knew that I needed to make that jump away from the AKC. But how? I spent a lot of time thinking about all my records. All that gene pool, all those littermate x-rays, temperament, size, and recessives for each and every dog--data going all the way back to the ‘60s! I had no idea how to get all that into a computer program. 

Our registry logo, established in 1991, was designed to include the initials of four of the prominent bitches that have laid the foundation for all future generations. Kari-Ria-Ursa-Sabrina.

It also includes the Christian fish symbol to honor my Savior and the key to represent the LMX program that provided me with the "key" that enabled me to unlock some amazing secrets.
I talked to some computer programmers who were capable of designing a program to do the basic database job, but they were quoting me forty, fifty, sixty thousand dollars for the level of complexity that I would require. That was out of the question.  I had an Apple IIE, where I kept address records of my clients, I remember it had a green screen – very low tech!
I was not prepared to do the job myself. So I just prayed about it. I said, Lord if you want me to make this break from the AKC, you're going to have to provide a way.

Additional Topics

Looking for an Outcross
Samson and Sabrina
First Steps for a New Breed
The Final AKC Breakaway
Sharing My Testimony
Political Woes Begin
Enter the TCCP
Very Important Breeders
Breeders Lose Control
Cherry Blossom Classic
Tension Increases

Chapter Six

The biggest problem that most dog clubs have is disagreements among their leaders. This almost always ends with splinter groups breaking off. Throughout my career I had witnessed this phenomenon practically destroy many breeds. In 1996, it happened to me: three dissident Shiloh breeders started the “United Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club,” and began out-crossing Shilohs to German Shepherd dogs, but selling them as Shiloh Shepherds.

I was infuriated.

We weren’t with the AKC anymore, so technically the name was unprotected.

This picture was taken in 1994, in front of the motel room in DC.  Lisa is holding our young (16 month old) Pax while Judy is standing next to his brother. London. Four month old Joshua was sleeping in the stroller.
But for over twenty years “Shiloh Shepherd” had meant something -- and it didn’t mean randomly out-crossed dogs!

Additional Topics

Back in Court
Time and Money
Genetic Defect?
“New” Club
The Fish Symbol
New Registry and Response
Broken Hearted Breed Founder
Important Outcross
New Lessons Learned

Chapter Seven

Josh was yelling at the fireman that his dog Izzy had run upstairs to hide. The fireman looked at the burning house, and then he looked at Josh. He said, `I’m sorry, but nobody’s going back into that house, the house is ready to blow.  I’m really sorry.’”

So we lost Izzy. 

The cold was bone chilling. As evening came on, more and more firetrucks arrived.  The temperature dipped into the single digits. One of the firefighters noticed that Josh was coughing heavily, and they ran all the way to the house with the stretcher. He was already going into hypothermia. He had just his house slippers on, and his jeans and his shirt, he didn’t have a jacket on; he was just a little boy, shivering, and scared. They wrapped him in a blanket and took him out on the stretcher to the ambulance.

This picture was taken around 4 PM on January 25, 2000 by a local photographer that arrived prior to the fire department trucks. Full details and more pictures have been published within the book.

Additional Topics

Tuesday, January 25, 2000
After the Fire
Starting Again
Standing at the Crossroads
Recovering Our Records
The Barber Fund
New Lessons Learned
Renewed Hope

Chapter Eight

To get my mind back into business, I started working on pedigree research on my donated kitchen table at New Zion.

Back in the mid 90’s I had been seeking the answer to why Esophageal Achalasia had mysteriously reemerged in our gene pool, after it had been wiped out for nearly fifteen years.  I had not gotten very far with my pencil and calculator, and I had even called an expert geneticist to look at the data with me.  We both ran into dead ends.  After a lot of effort, in the late 90s another expert geneticist recommended that I try a commercially available computer program

The full story behind this picture of a special plaque that was presented to me at the 2000 Homecoming, shortly after we lost everything in the fire at Shiloh forums, is also available within this book, as well as the unique complete inscription!
designed by the late Larry Ritter of RCI Software to determine the Relationship Coefficient. The RC program calculates exactly how closely related two dogs in a breeding program are to each other.

Additional Topics

Walking without a Flashlight
A Tense Homecoming
New Tools
Almost Famous
More Problems
The Last Battle – UKC Recognition

Chapter Nine

Josh is pictured with Meg's brother, Adam, son of the Kari look-alike (Raven) pictured on page 43. He is an excellent example of what I have been striving towards. We even have 3 color pictures of him (at various ages) in the color insert!

The Shiloh Shepherd has documentation like no other breed. Other breeds have pedigrees that tell you a bunch of names; our pedigree tells you how tall the dog was, how much he weighed as an adult, what color he was, what kind of temperament he had, what kind of coat he had, what his littermates looked like, his health data, genetic data… We have a registry that is more complex and more detailed than any other dog registry in the world.

Even more importantly, nearly forty years of highly selective breeding has produced an amazing dog.  Just as their ancestors herded and protected their sheep, the Shilohs love and protect their family members, especially the children.

They are highly intelligent animals, and possess no limitations in their ability to perform as search and rescue dogs, in herding, as STM competition dogs, or as therapy dogs. They excel in any and all obedience competitions, and love to strut their stuff at dog shows!

Additional Topics

New Zion Shilohs
Final Steps
My Biggest Regret
Lisa Barber—Heir Apparent
Full Circle
Back to the Future


The excerpts you have read were taken from the original manuscripts. Some of the pictures we have chosen for this book were not used in the final drafts, so we have inserted some of them within these short captions.  If you would like to share your comments, please take a moment to visit our Guestbook

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