River Rock German Shepherd Girls

River Rock German Shepherd Boys

River Rock Shepherd German Shepherd Puppies

About River Rock German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies

River Rock German Shepherds Rainbow Bridge - Dogs from the Past

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Welcome to River Rock German Shepherd Dogs in St. Cloud Minnesota

RiverRock's Departed Dogs

Sugarfoot's Hot Fudge Sundae

Ch RiverRock's Heart of the Matter
'14 points, both majors

To Sundae
"If there’s a doggy heaven
I know that’s where you are.
About a billion miles away
Standing on a Star.
It’s a doggy paradise…
No fences and no leads.
There won’t be any do’s and don’ts;
You can do just as you please.
There’ll be lots of bones to chew
And lots of holes to dig.
And there’ll be lots of other dogs…
Little ones and big!
You’ll romp and play with new-found friends
Forever, don’t you see?
So, why are you sitting at the Gate?
Just waiting there for me.

I know Sundae waits for me.  I know there will be a specialty ring.  And we will get that one last show!

Sundae was my pride and joy back in the 1970’s when I was a young handler finally free to pursue my childhood dream. She was a granddaughter of Ch. Stormhaven’s Dolf and a result of the Bernd X F-litter Arbywood cross that produced so many fine dogs of the time.

That’s me in the picture with her as she went Best Opposite at our hometown show for her 14th, and last, point. Sundae met with a tragic death shortly after. I grieved her for fifteen years before coming back into German Shepherds. She taught me much, and I think about her everyday.
My favorite memory of Sundae was the stormy night, at under 2 years old, when she won a 5 pt major at the 1971 Atlanta Specialty under Dr. Walter Frost. It was our first time in Open. I will never forget that night. We entered the ring last in a long line of spectacular bitches. The classes were huge then. Young Jimmy Moses and Doug Crane were there with the bitches that everyone knew. We were nobodies and last in line. The class lasted forever, and I thought my lungs would burst. Sundae pulled me around the ring endlessly and effortlessly. Every time we went around, Dr. Frost moved us up one place. There were 27 bitches in the open class that night. The crowd was going wild!

Finally, we had been advanced from 27th place to second behind Jimmy Moses with Winn Strickland’s bitch. As Dr. Frost moved back down the line, Jimmy turned to me and whispered, “Stretch her out a little more!” I didn’t know if I could trust him, but I took his advice. When Dr. Frost came back up the line, he took another lo-o-n-n-g, h-a-r-d look at Sundae. After taking just Jimmy and I around a few times, and having us switch places each time, he put Sundae up front and took the whole class around one last time. “That’s it!” he said, “One, two, three, four!” I collapsed in a mud puddle, gasping for breath, and shoved a piece of hot dog in Sundae’s face.

When I started to leave the ring, overcome with joy. Jimmy stopped me. “Where are you going? You have to go back in for Winners.” I didn’t think I could make it around that ring one more time, but Sundae wasn’t through. She pulled me around a few more times. When Dr. Frost pointed at us, I thought I had lived and gone to heaven! I buried my face in Sundae’s neck and cried, “Oh, Sun-Sun!” over and over. No matter what else happens, THAT is the night I will always remember.

I wrote the poem above when Sundae was shot and killed by an unknown intruder. I mourned Sundae for 15 years before re-entering the German Shepherd world in the early 1990’s.

I know Sundae waits for me. I know there will be a specialty ring in heaven. And we will finish with a major!


Saxony’s Serena of RiverRock TC HIC (2 pts)
Saxony’s Serena of RiverRock TC HIC

Serena was sired by GV Ch Stoneway’s Uecker out of Saxony’s Hey Jude.  Uecker is my all-time favorite dog, and I had searched for two years for a Uecker daughter when Bob Eaton directed me to Serena’s litter when we met at the Canadian National many years ago.  Serena had the best temperament of any gsd I have owned.  When I took her home at 10 weeks, crated in the front seat of my car, I thought she must either be asleep or frightened.  She wasn’t making a sound.  When I glanced in the crate door, however, she was just as cool as a cucumber.  I said aloud to myself, “That is the most serene puppy I have ever seen!”  And that’s how she got her name.

After raising several puppies that didn’t turn out, I thought Serena would be my first champion and foundation brood bitch.  She certainly had what it takes!  Unfortunately, she also had severe elbow dysplasia in both elbows and a subluxated patella in her left knee.  All of this surfaced when she began to limp right after taking her first two points.  I loved her so much that I shelled out thousands of dollars for surgery on both elbows and the knee.  Poor Serena underwent a lot of surgery!  But, she recovered well and was my special girl for eight years until it was time to let her go.  I knew our time together would be brief and resolved never to turn her down when she brought me a leash or a ball. I kept this promise. 

I took Serena to the National for the Temperament and Herding Instinct Tests in Perry one year, and Bob and I talked again.  Even though he was not Serena’s breeder, he was the one who replaced her with Stoneway’s Venus of Woodside, a Rollins daughter.  When the time came, Serena left me as calmly as she rode home with me that first day.

Stoneway’s Venus of Woodside OFA H&E
Stoneway’s Venus of Woodside

Venus was a Sel Ex Ch WeLove DuChien’s Rollins ROM daughter out of Am Can Ch Woodside’s Futuristic.  She is the foundation bitch that replaced Serena.  Venus came to me at 4 months of age, so she did not get the early training my puppies usually benefit from.  She hated the show ring and refused to have anything to do with it.  While this picture of her is blurry, I was lucky to get a stacked picture of her at all!  This picture was taken after she won her class at the Minneapolis/St. Paul match.  Then she wouldn’t come out of her crate for Winners!  That’s Venus!  But, she loved the whelping box and was a great mom. 

I had to wait several years to breed her while I put my son through college, so she only had two litters.  Bred to Ch Kenlyn’s Aries v HiCliff ROM, she gave me my first champion RiverRock’s Hotel California.  Bred to Ch Marquis’ Stealing the Show, she gave me RiverRock’s Charmaine who won Best Puppy and Best in Match her first time out at 12 wks!

Venus was also a great protector.  She foiled a burglary at my house one night.  The thieves had already stolen from my neighbors when they opened my back garden gate.  Venus slept in the house by a glass patio door that overlooked that gate.  The burglars came face-to-face with her when they opened the gate and Venus slammed her upright body into that glass door!  My neighbors’ belongings were scattered all over the road in the burglars’ hasty retreat!  She more than compensated for not being a show dog!


RiverRock’s Jack of Hearts (4 pts)

Jack of Hearts
1st Place Intermediate Dog 2010 Midwest Futurity

It is with such a heavy heart that I add Jack to the Rainbow Bridge page.  What a magnificent dog he was in every way!  Jack was the pick puppy from the Hearts litter and was owned by Martha Simonett and Van Dukeman and was handled and trained  expertly and exclusively by the team of Kent Boyles and Liz Oster.  He was loved by all.  At the time of his death, I was creating a video for him entitled Jack:  A Dog For All Reasons.  And he was.  In addition to being a heart-stopping show dog, Jack had natural herding ability and loved going to the farm to work sheep.  He was a friend to everyone he met and an excellent ambassador for the breed.  He loved puppies and could be trusted to play gently with them as they took balls and bones out of his mouth.  As his breeder, I could not have been prouder of him.  I am so glad that I was there to cheer him on at the Midwest Futurity.  Jack died suddenly, of mesenteric torsion.  Although no genetic link has been found for mesenteric torsion, Jack’s untimely death from this illusive killer has caused me to redouble my efforts and intentions toward improving the health of our beloved breed.  I will never forget you, Jack.


Grand Champion RiverRock’s Hotel California BN RN HSAs ROM TC

Grand Champion RiverRock’s Hotel California

It is with an utterly broken heart and a profound sense of gratitude to the universe that I add my beautiful and beloved RiverRock foundation bitch Grand Champion RiverRock’s Hotel California BN RN HSAs TC ROM (Callie) to the Rainbow Bridge page.  Oh, Callie, you made my every dream come true, plus some I never dared to dream, and gave me your unconditional love for ten wonderful years!  I miss you so much!  The pain of your passing is only exceeded by the wonderful memories you have given me and the pleasure of seeing you again, everyday, in the eyes of your beautiful daughter RiverRock’s California Dreamin’ (Cassie).

The journey to Callie involved a great deal of study and preparation.  Before deciding to become a breeder, I studied the Breed Standard, went to National and Regional specialty shows, attended Futurities, studied back issues of the Redbook and German Shepherd Dog Review, and talked with successful breeders for nine years.  I wanted to have a firm idea of exactly what kind of German Shepherds I wanted to produce and contribute to the gene pool before I made my first breeding.  It was my way to give back to this breed that had meant so much to me for my entire life.  My first breeding produced my ideal:  Callie.  From that point forward, RiverRock German Shepherds became, “The Kennel that Callie Built”.

Callie was sired by Ch. Kenlyn’s Aries v Hi Cliff out of Stoneway’s Venus of Woodside.  She grew into a beautiful puppy.  She was one of those rare ones who never had an ugly day or took an awkward step.  Even as an adolescent, she was beautiful.  The picture above was taken at 15 months. Callie finished with a major in Duluth, MN in July of 2008.  My initial dream of having one home-bred champion had come true! 

The next day, Callie and I looked at each other thinking, ‘What are we going to do now?’  Callie never really liked the show ring, so she did not miss it one bit.  I resolved to reward Callie by finding something she loved to do.  We went to obedience class.  That was okay.  Callie got her Beginner Novice title with no trouble.  We went to Rally class.  Callie like that better and finished her Rally Novice title with a first place class win at the GSDCA National.  Then we heard about a Herding Fun Day at a farm in Pine City, MN.  We went.  Callie truly came alive the second she saw those sheep!  I had never seen anything like it!  She totally turned on, and I got to see Callie for who she really was!  She was a German SHEPHERD Dog! I was very proud the day that Callie was awarded High Scoring Champion in Herding at the GSDCA National.

During the herding years, Callie became a mom as well.  I had set a new goal of 3 homebred champions and wanted a Callie daughter to raise.  I also wanted to bring Sel Ch. Kismet’s Heart Throb into my breeding program through a breeding to his son GV Ch. Honky Tonk Man.  When it was not possible to get a breeding to Honky Tonk Man, I learned that a son of his, Ch Kenlyn Kaleef’s Hudson v Anne Isle, was standing at stud at Kent Boyles’ kennel in Wisconsin.  I met his breeder, Martha Simonett, and a breeding was arranged.  Callie delivered 14 beautiful puppies, 3 of which became champions. 

Following the weaning of the Hearts litter, Callie and I happily went back to herding.  I dared to set my sights on the new goal of six homebred champions.  I loved being a breeder!  I loved everything about it:  pouring over pedigrees of potential studs, seeing the studs and their progeny every year at the National, breeding, whelping puppies, sitting transfixed for weeks at the whelping box, and extensively screening potential owners to make sure that the puppies went only to the best homes.

When the Hearts litter was around a year old, Kent approached me at a show and asked If I would be interested in returning Callie to the show ring to compete in Best of Breed at some all breeds with him as her handler.  He said he thought Callie had the potential to go Best in Show.  I felt surprised, and honored, that he thought so highly of Callie. 

When I saw Callie two months later at Kent’s, she looked even more beautiful than on the day that she finished her championship.  While she was overjoyed to see me, she clearly loved Kent and loved performing for him.  Callie had come into her own as a show dog!  Kent entered her in six all-breed shows as a Special.  She went Best of Breed at all six shows, took four Group firsts and a Group second.  While she did not go Best in Show, and Reserve Best in Show was not awarded at that time, I think she came very close a couple of times.  I was thrilled with the Group wins.  These were firsts for me.  Watching Callie with Kent was like seeing Callie anew.

My favorite memory of the Group wins was the day she won the Group under judge Linda Robey.  Kent and I were leaving the building after another dog had gone Best in Show.  Linda came running after us.  She knew Kent but did not know me.  Catching up to us, in a very excited voice, she said, “Kent!  Who is this beautiful bitch?  I have not seen such a beautiful and totally sound German Shepherd since Dallas (Ch. Kismet’s Sight for Sore Eyes, Callie’s grandsire).  Then came a moment of pride that I will always remember.  Kent was holding Callie’s leash.  He did not touch or speak to her.  He stepped back and moved his wrist ever so slightly.  Callie stepped forward, on a loose leash, and stacked herself perfectly.  I had never seen Callie do this.  It all happened in a split second of communication between Kent and Callie.  Then Kent said, “THIS… is Ch. RiverRock’s Hotel California.”  I don’t ever think I have been as proud of Callie, or as grateful for Kent, as I was at that moment.  He was instantly forgiven all past and future unreturned phone calls!

Callie returned to the whelping box for additional litters sired by SG1 Danny von Wilhendorf, Can GV US Sel Ex WeLove Duchien’s Captain America ROM (Stevie), AOE PAM Sel Ex Anne Isle’s Promise Keeper ROM (Tucker) and GV EJM’n Eko Lan’s Eli ROM.  There were 3 champions from the Stevie Litter and another 3 from the Tucker litter.  Callie earned her ROM and was #1 Major Point Producing ROM bitch in 2014.  She made several appearances in the Red Book as a Top Ten Futurity/Maturity ROM dam.

While Callie produced nine beautiful champions, including AOE Select Excellent Ch RiverRock’s Starlett O’Hara TC PT (Star), Callie had not yet produced a bitch as beautiful as herself.  When bred at age 7, she did not conceive.  I decided to try one more time and bred her to Grand Victor Ch. EJM n’ Eko Lan’s Eli at 8 years of age.  She had two puppies by emergency C-section, 1 boy and 1 girl.  The girl was made in Callie’s image and named RiverRock’s California Dreamin’ (Cassie).  She is her mother’s daughter in appearance, but is a spoiled brat with a mind of her own who has no intention of ever being a show dog!  But, that’s okay.  I look at her everyday and see my beloved Callie and know that Callie will live on through Cassie’s puppies.

At ten years of age, Callie developed osteosarcoma in her left knee.  The only thing I could do for her was to minimize her suffering and wrap my arms around her as she peacefully left this earth.

As I approach my 70th birthday in April of 2017, I am so thankful for the ten years I spent with Callie.  She was my constant companion, best friend, protector, and purveyor of lifelong dreams.  She continues to bring joy to those who own her children and grandchildren.  She will enrich the gene pool for years to come.  And, that is what being a foundation brood bitch should be all about.  Thank you, Callie, from all of the lives you have touched and will touch with your beauty, intelligence, courage and grace.  And thank you, gentle reader, for reading Callie’s story.  Long as it is, it means a lot to me to share it with you.