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

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

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

By C. L. Har­mon
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!