Oklahoma Couple Breeds the Grand Champions of Man’s Best Friend


They are man’s best friend and prob­a­bly the most loy­al of all crea­tures on the plan­et. They have been the joy of roy­al­ty and peas­antry alike for as long as any­one knows. They are God spelled back­ward and the def­i­n­i­tion of love spelled for­ward. It should sur­prise no one that there are those among us who devote great amounts of time and ener­gy to breed­ing and rais­ing such lov­ing crea­tures. One such Okla­homa cou­ple has devot­ed the last 25 years to breed­ing the Ger­man Shep­herd breed of these creatures…and not just aver­age shepherds…but many of them grand cham­pi­ons.
“We have been very suc­cess­ful rais­ing world class dogs. In fact, we had the first Grand Cham­pi­on Ger­man Shep­herd in Okla­homa and have had sev­er­al grand cham­pi­ons, both male and female over the years. We have raised 27 cham­pi­ons and grand cham­pi­ons since we began rais­ing them,” own­er of Key­stone Ger­man Shep­herds & Ken­nels, Dean Heckathorn said. He and his wife Pat­ty focus on rais­ing one breed and they pre­pare them to do every type of func­tion capa­ble to a Ger­man Shep­herd today. Through train­ing, these ani­mals can be used as ser­vice dogs, search and res­cue among many oth­er appli­ca­tions.
“We were rais­ing Ger­man Shep­herds when in 1996, we dis­cov­ered a Hei­del­berg Ger­man Shep­herd dog ken­nel due to the advent of the inter­net. We made the 1,000-mile trip to see these Hei­del­bergs first hand. Once we dis­cov­ered them, we have nev­er bred any oth­er type of shep­herd. They tru­ly are the real deal. There are no more loy­al, intel­li­gent, health­i­er and beau­ti­ful Ger­man Shep­herds in the world,” Dean said.
One of the most inter­est­ing aspects of the oper­a­tion is the gen­uine love the cou­ple has for these ani­mals. It’s not just about breed­ing or rais­ing ani­mals that can fetch a good price, but about ensur­ing that the ani­mals live a hap­py and healthy life after they have been sold. The cou­ple explains to each poten­tial buy­er about the impor­tance of nutri­tion and how some­thing as sim­ple as prop­er nutri­tion alone will keep the dogs healthy and min­i­mize vet­eri­nar­i­an bills. The cou­ple even went the extra mile to ensure that own­ers can do just this with ease through a sup­ple­ment of their own cre­ation. Dean is not only a breed­er. He also holds degrees in biol­o­gy and chem­istry. So, he took that knowl­edge and expand­ed on a basic sup­ple­ment that was designed for Hei­del­berg Ger­man Shep­herds. Using his under­stand­ing of anato­my and phys­i­ol­o­gy, he tweaked and improved the for­mu­la to be all-nat­ur­al and much more effec­tive as well. In addi­tion, this for­mu­la is safe for all breeds to aid in keep­ing them health­i­er longer.
This con­coc­tion of health and vital­i­ty, how­ev­er, is not just avail­able to the dogs they raise and the own­ers who pur­chase them, but to every­one and at a rea­son­able price. A five-month sup­ply costs only 23 dol­lars and is easy to use by sim­ply sprin­kling a tad over the animal’s food.
“We have own­ers who come in and try it because of the price and are hooked for life. They can lit­er­al­ly see the trans­for­ma­tion in their dogs. We have peo­ple tell us that they can see their dogs ‘glow­ing’ after just a cou­ple of months. I am con­vinced that we have been able to have so many Ger­man Shep­herds cho­sen as grand cham­pi­ons because the judges can see how our ani­mals seem to glow,” Dean said.
The cou­ple also offers free train­ing class­es on Sat­ur­day morn­ings with a focus on obe­di­ence and devel­op­ing social skills. This train­ing teach­es the ani­mals how to act in pub­lic giv­ing peace of mind to the own­ers that the ani­mal won’t bite some­one, bark, and growl or even lunge after a cat. It also lays the foun­da­tion for more exten­sive train­ing if the own­ers opt to pur­sue fur­ther spe­cif­ic train­ing in anoth­er area. This is a free ser­vice to any­one who is inter­est­ed.
“Some­times I think I was crazy to get into this and I have no idea why I chose to do it, but I must admit how reward­ing this expe­ri­ence has been,” he quipped with a laugh. He added, refer­ring back to his crazy state­ment, that they are not get­ting rich doing this and most peo­ple don’t real­ize how much mon­ey and effort goes into rais­ing dogs cor­rect­ly. As crazy as they may think they are, one can quick­ly real­ize how much the cou­ple tru­ly cares for the ani­mals by sim­ply vis­it­ing the ken­nel and see­ing how hap­py and healthy these dogs are in their envi­ron­ment. The cou­ple even refus­es to put an ani­mal down because he/she is too old to show or sell. Instead, they choose to feed and care for those ani­mals until they pass on from nat­ur­al caus­es. Most breed­ers will not do this because of the cost, the cou­ple said.
Ger­man Shep­herds are one of those rare breeds that can be so much than just a pet. They are used the world over in a vari­ety of func­tions includ­ing law enforce­ment, the mil­i­tary, as ser­vice ani­mals, search and res­cue, herd­ing and even ther­a­py.  Per­haps the cou­ple may be crazy for get­ting into this, but that reward­ing expe­ri­ence he feels must be unde­ni­able and prob­a­bly stems from the fact that for over 25 years, they have been pro­duc­ing some­thing that tru­ly does enrich the lives of all those who are loved, helped and pro­tect­ed by Ger­man Shep­herds.
For more infor­ma­tion on pur­chas­ing a Ger­man Shep­herd, health sup­ple­ments, board­ing ser­vices or free train­ing class­es, vis­it keystonegermanshepherds.com.


Upon writ­ing this sto­ry, I was unaware of the cir­cum­stances per­tain­ing to the cou­ple who owns the busi­ness which is writ­ten about above. How­ev­er, short­ly after fin­ish­ing the arti­cle, I was enlight­ened to a blog post which prompt­ed me to place the arti­cle on hold until I could make sure the arti­cle has the prop­er end­ing. After sev­er­al weeks, I have decid­ed to run the arti­cle in its orig­i­nal draft and include the blog post from the own­ers. The fol­low­ing is in the owner’s own words.

Old Man

I haven’t blogged in a long time.  How­ev­er, after cyber-attacks to our web page, email, and social media our busi­ness at keystonegermanshepherds.com is at risk of clos­ing.  And, these beau­ti­ful Heidelberg’s will be lost for­ev­er.


Nobody in the world is breed­ing pure Heidelberg’s Ger­man Shep­herds except for us, Key­stone Ger­man Shep­herds & Ken­nels.  My intent with start­ing blog­ging again is mul­ti­fac­eted, but the most press­ing rea­son is to save our ken­nel and these won­der­ful shep­herd lines. In decid­ing what to write, I start­ed think­ing about “The Old Man and the Sea”, a book I read sev­er­al times as a teenag­er and I haven’t giv­en it much thought since then.  How­ev­er, the love that “We” (our cus­tomers and us) have for these dogs inspired me to under­stand what that book was real­ly about.
Ernest Hem­ming­way was writ­ing an auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal sto­ry about the lost love of his life.  The one that got away.  If you haven’t read the book, read it after read­ing this.  Also, I’m doing this from 37-year-old mem­o­ries and I’m not fact-check­ing so please be kind.  Old San­ti­a­go is fish­ing for the love of his life.  He hooks a great blue Mar­lin, the largest fish San­ti­a­go can remem­ber any­body catch­ing even from when he was a young boy.  ‘The Great Prize’ rep­re­sents the woman that Hem­ming­way loved.  San­ti­a­go spent end­less strain­ing hours fight­ing this great fish, he had to pos­sess it and claim it as his own.  The bat­tle with the fish rep­re­sents Hem­ming­way and his lover’s courtship.
The rea­son he wrote in such short con­cise and pre­cise sen­tences is because that is the lan­guage of love and love­mak­ing.  San­ti­a­go catch­es his great prize and fas­tens her to the skip, but in pos­sess­ing her San­ti­a­go begins to cor­rupt her spir­it.  The pack of attack­ing sharks rip away the valu­able flesh of this great fish.  San­ti­a­go returns to his hut after suf­fer­ing a heart attack with only the skele­ton of his great fish tied to the skiff, he lays down on his blan­ket in the floor of his hut and falls asleep.  Like­wise, Hem­ming­way returned home with a bro­ken heart after los­ing the only true love of his life.  The book ends with ‘San­ti­a­go dream­ing of ele­phants’.  San­ti­a­go wasn’t defeat­ed or bro­ken, and he would have anoth­er con­quest.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I believe Hem­ming­way was defeat­ed and this loss may have result­ed in his sui­cide.
Like­wise, we have a great prize here at Key­stone Ger­man Shep­herds & Ken­nels, the love of our col­lec­tive lives, the world’s best tem­pera­ment and aes­thet­i­cal­ly pleas­ing Ger­man Shep­herds, the Hei­del­berg Ger­man Shep­herd.  Thank you to all our friends that own or have owned and love our dogs.  Please help us keep this dream alive, if you are think­ing of buy­ing a pup­py or dog from us, please don’t wait.  We need your sup­port now.  We haven’t decid­ed on a date in which we will close down, but it will only be a cou­ple of months unless we have your sup­port.  Please vis­it us at keystonegermanshepherds.com

Help KGS

We sell show-qual­i­ty Ger­man Shep­herds. Our Ger­man Shep­herds are the best val­ue in top qual­i­ty pup­pies avail­able most any­where. Our pup­pies start at $2,500.00

C. L. Har­mon

Lead Author

C.L. Har­mon a jour­nal­ist and author.

He Has worked for sev­er­al news­pa­pers as a reporter and was the man­ag­ing edi­tor for a dai­ly before start­ing his own paper, The Man­n­ford Reporter in Man­n­ford, Okla­homa. 

The Man­n­ford Reporter came with many life lessons and expe­ri­ences that I may share one day. For now my focus and my love is Unique­la­homa!

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  1. What a love­ly and impor­tant sto­ry, well-writ­ten and inter­est­ing! Best of every­thing to these two dog-lovers 🙂 –

  2. Thank you for this arti­cle. These are very good friends of mine and it has been a rough year. Prayer­ful­ly it will turn around.

    • Thank you and we appre­ci­ate your com­ment!

  3. Thank you CL. You are a very tal­ent­ed writer and we enjoy your arti­cles very much.

    • Thank you very much! It was a plea­sure to write about such won­der­ful peo­ple!

  4. They have the best GS around. They tru­ly love the breed and love shar­ing their knowl­edge and help­ing us rook­ies get hooked on the Hei­del­berg GS line! They helped my juve­nile daugh­ter with show­ing her Hei­del­berg and get­ting her social­ized with their Free- yes free! Sat­ur­day morn­ing lessons . Great fam­i­ly owned run busi­ness


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