Kirchenwald Shepherds was officially established as a German Shepherd Dog breeding kennel in 1997. We are small and selective–”klein und fein,” as the Germans say. “Kirchenwald” is the German translation of our family name, Kirkwood. It means “Church’s Woods”. The kennel name references the Breeder’s prior professional life as a church musician and more recently, the 40 acre mixed hardwood forest that is now home to our state-of-the-art kennel facility.
Nearly 30 years of raising, training, and showing German Shepherd Dogs, and a sabbatical year in Germany preceded the birth of our first litter, the “A” pups vom Kirchenwald, in 1997. Many wonderful dogs contributed to the dream of what was to become the “ideal” Kirchenwald Shepherd: excellent anatomy, strong working drives, strong and stable characters with happy dispositions.
First came the AKC years. From “Ulysses”, a stray who found us on our wedding anniversary, to “Druedchen”, a daughter of police canines, and our beloved “Winnie”, a Watson daughter, who raised our boys–we learned from them all!
Then the fascination with Schutzhund and the German system began. Our learning curve soared! Lovely “Lana”, whose years were cut short by lymphoma. VA-Irk v. Hochheimer Stein, whose extreme power on the Schutzhund field was matched by his gentle way with children. Crazy Waneska v. Wilhendorf, who went on to become a Knoxville, TN dual purpose police dog. And our darling, Quessi v. Wilhendorf, whose one bad hip didn’t stop her from ruling everything Kirkwood and Kirchenwald for 13+ years. Quessi and Irk came with us to Germany for the sabbatical year. By coincidence, we lived in the village of Hochheim, near Mainz. Irk’s kennel name “Hochheimer Stein” refers to the vineyard along the path to our favorite club.
Three foundation females came home with us after the sabbatical. V-Meika v. Isidora (an Ulk Arlett daughter) and VA-Brenda v. Messebau (a Gorbi Bad-Boll daughter) both live on in our current breeding stock. Beautiful Brenda celebrated her 15th birthday by demanding to bite the sleeve!
Utz v. Hirschel (aka “Trick”) joined the kennel foundation in 1999. Trick’s powerful work ethic and talent is legendary. Twice VA rated and the 2001 USA Sieger, Trick earned six more SchH 3 titles and an FH title AFTER his VA-1 title–just for fun!
Our first litter (Meika v. Isidora X Nero v. Hirschel) produced “Atlas”, 1999 USA Jugend Sieger. Our third litter (Meika v. Isidora X Irk v. Hochheimer Stein) produced “Caleb”, 2000 USA Junghund Sieger. Our fourth litter (Brenda v. Messebau X Enzo v. Buchhorn) produced “Drake”, SG 5 2000 Junghund Class German Sieger Show and 2000 USA Vice-Junghund Sieger.
Beginner’s luck? No. The right to bear a Breeder’s responsibilities came only after thirty years of hard-won knowledge