|Welcome to Sugarloaf Shepherds
Featuring the Vantasia Line of
White German Shepherd Dogs
About Sugarloaf Shepherds
The Sugarloaf Shepherds kennel is owned and operated by us, Lance and Linda Lessler. We were living in Germantown, Maryland at the time we decided to establish our own kennel, and we needed a name for our kennel. Linda always comes up with the names in our family. We were looking out across the landscape from our bedroom window and her eyes fixated on the lone mountain that could be seen from our property, Sugarloaf Mountain. Linda suggested the name Sugarloaf Shepherds because the mountain was a very unusual one, and we wanted our kennel to be exceptional.
Britt the Wonder-Dog
We haven't always been involved with breeding dogs. We got into it quite late in our lives. We always have had dogs and cats in our lives, but never had a German Shepherd Dog until Britt came into our lives. Our last experience before getting into German Shepherd Dogs was with several Golden Retrievers. We still had two of them, Maggie and Sophia, in our household when our son Bruce brought his 6-month-old White German Shepherd Dog (GSD), Britt, over one day and asked if we could keep him. He was unable to care for him as a result of some personal issues.
Britt was a very friendly and energetic puppy we had known since Bruce got him as an 8-week-old puppy. (We think his calm temperament might have been due to the fact that he grew up thinking he was a Golden Retriever, like Bruce's other dog.) Before Britt, we didn't even know that a GSD could be white. Britt began to grow on us as he matured into a statuesque 28-inch, 100-lb best friend.
When Britt came to us, he could not keep up with our Golden, Maggie. They would romp together on a nearby school athletic field, and Maggie would run circles around him. But, as Britt matured, his athleticism became very apparent. Soon, he could run down and herd Maggie so effectively that she could not escape his exuberance whenever they played together. One day, I was playing with Britt by the school grounds where there was a zig-zag ramp to accommodate the handicapped who could not use the stairs leading from a higher grassy area to a lower elevation. I was running down the ramp, thinking Britt was chasing me. As I turned at the end of one segment of the ramp, Britt kept going straight. He leapt over the brick wall and jumped down to the lower level. I was stunned and thought Britt must have killed himself jumping from such a high height over the brick wall. But, amazingly, Britt had taken it in stride and was cavorting around on the lower level of grassy area when I got to the bottom of the ramp. I still cannot believe that he made that jump so effortlessly. He reminded me of the athletic exploits of that TV star, Rin Tin Tin. Coincidentally, when I traced his pedigree years later, I found that Rin Tin Tin is in fact in Britt's direct lineage.
In the years thereafter, Britt became a pal like no other dog we ever had. I was not a professional dog trainer, but I found that I could teach Britt all kinds of "jobs" to do around the house, just for fun. I never had to discipline Britt. He always seemed to want to do things for me. I just had to show him how.
When we lost Sophia at the ripe old age of 14, we eventually gave thought to adding another dog to our household. Because of our experience with Britt, we could think of adding no other breed of dog than a German Shepherd. We tried adopting a black and tan 10-month-old puppy from a shelter, but he would not get along with Britt. Then, I remembered an incident a few years back, when I was leaving a local PetSmart store and noticed a van with its rear hatch open and with a crate full of the cutest little white puppies I had ever seen. I introduced myself to their owner, Barbara Hively, and learned that she bred White German Shepherds, just like Britt. When I recalled that she had given me her card, Linda dug it out from our files and I called Barbara. Miraculously, it turned out that she had recently had a litter and we could buy a puppy from that litter.
So, we bought Merlin, and Linda became involved in helping Barbara show him at various shows. After a few years, we added a female, Spyce, to our household, and we decided to become involved with breeding; at which point, we conceived of Sugarloaf Shepherds. Later on, we went partners with Barbara by co-owning a beautiful white GSD female named Bridget. At that point, we had Merlin, Spyce, and Bridget (as well as Britt, who had been neutered early on), and we had the idea for Sugarloaf Shepherds, but we lived in a suburban environment with little room to do what we wanted to do.
A New Home for Sugarloaf Shepherds
The solution: Linda and I retired from our careers at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, MD, and moved to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, where we custom-built a new home for Sugarloaf Shepherds. Although we hadn't had extensive experience breeding our shepherds, we had the next best thing. We invited Barbara to come live with us in our beautiful new 4-acre homestead in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. There, we have built our kennel facilities, including a 1-acre fenced-in area for the dogs. Between Barbara's dogs and ours, we now keep on the order of about ten adult dogs at any one time. We have already had four litters of puppies in our new location. All our dogs continue the Vantasia line that Barbara founded and which have consistently earned high praise and won awards at the various shows we have attended. Merlin has become a Champion in both the United Kennel Club and our two Whie GSD specialty clube, the White German Shepherd Dog Club International and the White German Shepherd Club of America. Anybody want a cute little white puppy that will grow up to become an awesome best friend?
Unfortunately, we recently lost Britt to bone cancer. Although Britt was not closely related to Barbara's Vantasia line, he will forever remain as our inspiration for wanting to be involved with our White GSDs. Already, our young female, Ziva, is learning how to do many of the jobs Britt used to do. Though we didn't know much about training back when we started out with Britt, we have since come to learn that using positive reinforcement techniques was the most effective way for us to help our dogs learn what they needed to do, and to help produce the kind of loving bond that should exist between people and their dogs.
|Click on the logo at the left for Karen Pryor's Clicker Training web site. It has all you need to get started training your puppy with positive reinforcement.|
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