Sierra Working Dogs – About Us

Sierra Working Dogs

Sierra Working Dogs is a group of German Shepherd enthusiasts who are dedicated to preserving the true working heritage of the German Shepherd Dog. We breed moderate to high drive working German Shepherd Dogs suitable for Police, Search and Rescue, Service Dogs and the most important, Family Companions. While our breeding program is directed towards breeding of high drive dog, not every puppy is going to be suitable for that type of work. We have many successful service dogs and family companions.

The success of our program, is not only in our breeding, but also in the tremendous amount of time put in to raising and exposing our puppies to a variety of experiences from the time they are three days old. Check out our page on puppy raising for more details on how we raise our puppies. Additionally, we place a tremendous amount of emphasis in matching the right puppies to the right homes. We puppy test at ages 4, 5, 6 weeks to profile each puppy. We spend an extensive amount of time interviewing our prospective homes so that we know the type of puppy profile that best suits the home. As we test puppies, we start identifying which puppies suit best the prospective homes, and this is the ultimate success of our program. Because we live and work with our dogs, we understand them and the needs of our clientele.

A Brief History

Cherie has been involved with dogs all of her life. As an adult college student she attended her first formal obedience classes. She fell in love with training and continued on until grad school. When grad school was finished she returned to the obedience arena where she quickly began assisting in instruction and eventually taught classes in Sacramento, California. In the many years that she spent teaching pet dog obedience, she worked with well over 700 dogs. She is now back at it at their new facility Gold Country Pet Resort.

Cherie has been involved as a volunteer in Search and Rescue since 1997. She started with “Geri”, a German Shepherd that she had rescued from the streets of Sacramento and rehabilitated. It was quickly apparent that she was not bred for the work as she did not possess the qualities that a true working German Shepherd Dog should have. In searching for the right dog, Cherie was taken with the working ability and temperament of dogs she knew that had been bred by Jim and Julie Barnes of Wenatchee’s German Shepherds. On July 27, 1997 her first “real” German Shepherd, Wenatchee’s Marco, was born. Marco certified in area (wilderness) when he was two years of age. When Marco retired, he entered his second career as the “office dog” often comforting and playing with the kids whom Cherie works with in her “real” job.

Marco is an excellent example of the stability of temperament that exists in the Wenatchee lines. While he was an outgoing active searcher capable of bouldering with the best in Yosemite, he quickly switched easily to the gentle dog around the kids in Cherie’s office. He was always the “big teddy bear” of the office always ready to play with lego’s or read a book with a child.

In 2002, Cherie’s second working dog, Rio, came into her life. Rio is the daughter of Wenatchee’s Heiko, a working Sheriff’s Department dog. She is also the granddaughter (on her mother’s side) of another working Sheriff’sDepartment dog, Ex vd Grube Waldecke, (“Eike”). Eike was also a Schutzhund 3.

Rio is a power house of a worker. Cherie wanted a dog to focus on human remains detection and Rio excels at her work. Rio certified with WOOF Search Dogs as a Type 1 Area Search Dog, HRD dog and avalanche dog. Type 1 means that we search in the toughest of conditions throughout the Sierra Nevada mountains for lost persons.

Rio has been on many searches, some for multiple days in the vast wilderness of Yosemite. She has searched for many different counties both for live and deceased victims. Rio never slows down and gives the “energizer bunny” arun for his money. Rio has shown her heart, drives and love of her job in working in untenable conditions for hours on end when necessary.

In 2005, Cherie decided she also wanted to work a dog in the exceptionally demanding world of Urban Search and Rescue (Disaster). [Is she crazy?] While Rio has all the necessary heart, drive, and independence to work as a disaster dog, it is discouraged (in California) to cross-train between disaster and Human Remains Detection (that means one dog should not do both). Cherie jumped at the chance to get Hexe because her lines were almost identical to Rio’s. Hexe is a granddaughter of Heiko and daughter of “Eike”.

In Hexe’s previous home, she was in training for Schutzhund. While Cherie is new to the sport of Schutzhund, she decided to see what Hexe did know. Hexe quickly showed her strong drives and excellent grip. Hexe’s incredible temperament and love of her work has made it easy for Cherie as a first time handler in the sport. In approximately 18 months, they achieved their first Schutzhund III title, with an overall score of 283 (96Tracking, 92 Obedience, 95 Protection) and qualified for National competition. Since then, they have achieved the Sch 3 title four times, and Hexe was the third highest scoring female at the 2008 National German Shepherd Championships. Not bad for a first time team!

Mike has been involved as a volunteer in Search and Rescue since 1991. He began on the technical team, the swiftwater rescue team, and the ground search team. Mike often saw the great advantages that the dog handlers had over himself as a ground searcher when searching for lost people.

In 1999, he began his pursuit of handling a K-9 and became certified with Jag, a Belgian Malinois in area (wilderness), avalanche and disaster (state level). Jag was an honorary GSD in this household since we never told him he wasn’t quite like the others. Mike was pursuing certification with Jag as a National FEMA Disaster Canine Team when we lost Jag at an early age after a long battle against the devastating illness of Chronic Kidney Failure.

Mike’s second dog was born on September 29, 2006 in Walburga’s “A” litter. Mike has chosen the light blue girl “Artemis vom Walburga. She has pretty big pawprints to fill, but we are confident she can do it. She showed tremendous drive and stability during her testing, never hesitating to venture out and take on any challenges presented to her.