I moved to Lansing from my home town of Menominee, Michigan in 1977. My plan was to become a Veterinarian, and when I was accepted to the Pre Vet program at Michigan State University, I was very excited. I had already been active in dogs, teaching Obedience classes, and working with my first dog, a beagle named “Jake”. I always admired the German Shepherd dog, as a loyal protector, able to do anything that you taught it, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to own one.
I had scholarships, and work study, but I needed to work as well, to pay my way through college. I took a night job with a local security service that provided guard dogs to car dealerships and other businesses in the greater Lansing area. That security service used “pound dogs”, just about anything that would bark, but I convinced the owner, Mr. McClellan, that using purebred German Shepherds would be a better choice. We both went to a well known breeder, Fred Migliore of Eko Lan kennels near Howell, Michigan, and purchased two male pups. At that time, Eko Lan Kennels was riding high on the success of their three famous dogs:
The adults pictured on this page represent the genetic components of the Cher Car breeding program. Although some are no longer living, all have been influential in our goal to create a magnificent shepherd.
A print of a painting of these three dogs graces the cover of "The German Shepherd Book" by Susan Barwig, through Hoflin Publishing.
Ch Eko-Lan's Shiloh ROM
Ch Eko-Lan's Paladen ROM
Ch Eko-Lan's Morgan ROM
Mac's Kapitan von Shiloh
We chose a pup from Ch Eko-Lan's Paladen ROM (Paladen), and another from 2 x Am Sel Ch Can Sel Ch Eko-Lan's Shiloh ROM (Shiloh). The Shiloh pup was named Mac’s Kapitan von Shiloh. He was a very active, red and black dog. I showed him to his AKC Companion Dog title, as well as some Michigan Conformation shows, all the while working him in protection, guard work, and sentry work.
“Renegade’s April Illusion” became quite a local celebrity. Many folks enjoyed watching him in our protection classes, which were geared mostly toward Schutzhund training.
He was a large, black and red male, with a serious attitude, but very calm and accepting of strangers. My friends and I would get together during the week nights to come up with different training scenarios involving our dogs, and Renegade was always “out thinking” the scenario.
I had many good pups from him, most notably “Magnum”, the first Police K-9 for Michigan State University, who I bred and trained to certification as a Police Dog, then donated to MSU… where he was handled and loved by Sergeant Dale Metts.
Renegade's April Illusion & Cheryl-1982
I continued to breed, train, judge and show; and placed numerous Police K-9s for various departments throughout Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
When the founder of Parkwood Kennels Mrs. Eva Camp Hines passed away in 1983, I bought the Parkwood Kennels business and property.
I continued to conduct my dog training and breeding business under the name of Cher Car Shepherds while operating the Parkwood Kennels boarding and grooming business, but decided to merge both entities into the Cher Car Kennels name in 1988.
Dan Williams and Cheryl Carlson
Early Police K9's
Cher Car Kennels Sign
Click to enlarge.
Commendations and Awards
Cher Car's Notorious Son, CDX, SchH II, VB, AD, 10x FR III, Campagne Selective 500, CGC, TDI, TT, FEMA US&R
My next personal dog, a Renegade son, was “Cher Car’s Notorious Son” (call name "Sebastian") CDX, SchH II, VB, AD, 10x FR III, Campagne Selective 500, CGC, TDI, TT, FEMA US&R
I can say now that I was worried that I would never find another dog like Renegade when I started working with “Sebastian”, and I was right… “Sebastian” was even better than his dad!
We went on to do more national type of training, earning a French Ring III when there were very few trials in French Ring, and the decoys and judges were all imported from France.
Click to enlarge
Sebastian was quite well known, and at the time, was the only German Shepherd Dog in the world holding advanced titles in AKC Obedience, Schutzhund, French Ring and Campagne (plus being a FEMA certified Search & Rescue dog).
Not only was he a marveleous competition dog who taught me a great deal about training, he was also a true "working dog" in every sense of the word. Sebastian also had two live tracking finds to his credit, when I was working to install several Police K-9’s that I trained for Marinette, Wisconsin.
Sebastian performing the "Defense of Handler" in French Ring Sport with then NARA Decoy of the Year Paul Cipparone
In 1989, I expanded my breeding program to include the Belgian Malinois. I thoroughly enjoyed the energy and working ability of this breed, so much so that my then sport of choice Schutzhund was soon replaced by the newly imported French Ring Sport. My involvement in French Ring and the success of my Malinois breeding program became widespread, as I was one of the founders of the North American Ring Association and also served as President of the organization.
Our Cher Car Kennels bred Malinois hold more French Ring Sport titles than any other US kennel’s bred dogs, and my training students have earned over 150 French Ring titles. I personally bred, trained and titled three of my personal dogs to Ring III. What fun we have with these Malinois!
I had already been bitten hard by the competitive dog sports bug, having titled to advanced degrees in AKC Obedience and Schutzhund. But with French Ring Sport; and as always in my youth, I took it to the "nth" degree. Not wanting to settle for being a Schutzhund helper and French Ring decoy, in 1992 I had the honour and privilege to become the first and ONLY woman in North America to EVER receive certification as a Campagne decoy.
UAG1 UCD CH Cher Car's Zodiac
UAGI UCD CH Cher Car's Zodiac taking Best Male at the 1996 Premier, a difficult and very prestigious win for a solid black dog at the largest UKC show of the year!
Topping Sebastian was no easy feat, and while my Sebastian son, CH Cher Car’s Zodiac (a solid black), never titled in any protection sport, he was an amazing dog, so structurally sound that it was very difficult to fault him in the breed ring.
I was experiencing some serious problems with my back, which limited my ability to compete with this dog in trials. “Zodiac” was my personal protection dog, and would accompany me on horseback riding outings. On Labor Day 1996, Zodiac was kicked by a horse, which shattered his left rear leg. Two days later, I was admitted into the hospital, where I underwent emergency surgery on my back.
All through both of our recoveries, Zodiac was there for me, as I was for him. He needed another surgery around Christmas, because he re-injured his leg. While the leg injury kept me from showing him in many trials, I titled him in Agility, mostly to teach him to use his leg properly.
UAGI UCD CH Cher Car’s Zodiac TOTAL DOG ribbon from the 1996 Premier
GRCH Doug’s Razor Du Cher Car was another Sebastian son owned by a friend of mine. This dog was a contemporary of “Zodiac”. He was a beautiful dark black and tan that was unstoppable in the show ring, as well as a top notch competitor in bitework.
He went on to earn his Grand Championship, as well as a French Ring II and a CDX in AKC competitive obedience. A “Razor” daughter, named “Gillette”, would carry on his winning ways, earning her Championship at the UKC Premier with some very stiff competition.
Her daughter “Schick” and grandson "Kevlar" carry on this "Sebastian" line in our breeding program today.
PD1 P1 UCD Cher Car’s Back in Black, PrPD, CGC (Scorpio)
“Cher Car’s Back in Black” aka “Scorpio” was a HUGE solid black son of Zodiac. Originally my dog, my friend Paul Hebeler took him over because “Scorpio” was just too big for me to handle correctly, especially coming off the back surgery.
He figured prominently in our kennel during the 2000's. He was a solidly built, oversized male, steady in temperament, with a well known deep, strong bite.
He was titled in several protection venues, as well as earning his Companion Dog title through the UKC.
“Cher Car’s A Shout in the Woods” aka “Timber” was my first competition dog after my back surgery. He was a very serious protector, not really good at “playing the game”.
Not only did he compete successfully at protection venues across the nation, he also demonstrated serious defense drives for my Dog Bite Prevention seminars.
I purchased “Timber” as a police K9 prospect, but upon looking at his pedigree, found that his father went back to my old dog, “Renegade”. Timber was also one of the first dogs titled in UKC protection sports.
P1 Cher Car’s A Shout in the Woods, PPD, TT (Timber)
Scorpio's son Paladin (UAGI URO2 P1 OBPD1 PA FO Hebeler’s Knight n Blk v CherCar, CSAU, BTr, CGC) protecting his owner Paul Hebeler during the "Jump out Attack on Handler" in UKC Dog Sport
In 2003, the UKC introduced a new competitive sport called Dog Sport, involving obedience, protection and Police Dog titles. The program combined aspects of personal protection, Schutzhund and French Ring, with the benefit of having these protection titles appear on pedigrees.
I was fortunate to become the first woman to be licensed as a Service Dog Trial Judge for ALL classes of Dog Sports, able to officiate at Police Dog I and Police Dog II certifications, as well as all other levels of obedience and protection certification offered by the UKC Service Dog program. I am additionally the only woman certified to select and certify helpers/decoys for the UKC Dog Sport program. This program was hugely successful, and my students have earned over 200 Dog Sport titles, more than any other club in the country!
In 2005, I again expanded my breeding program to also include Dutch Shepherds. It is a marvelous breed, with intelligence and skills similar to both the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois. Some say the Dutch Shepherd is a perfect middle between the two breeds… a notch above the German Shepherd, but a click down from the high energy of the Malinois. My first personal Dutch Shepherd competition dog was a large male of my breeding named “Becker” (ROM-XX PTN UAGII URO3 UJJCH CH Cher Car’s It’s My Perogative BTr CSAU CGC).
The Number 1 Dutch Shepherd DAM and the Number 2 Dutch Shepherd SIRE on the UKC TOP 10 Producers List by progeny titles earned in the last decade are our very own foundation male and female ROM-X PD1 P1 PA FO CH Schefflers C’est Touché Cher Car BTr (Touché) and ROM-XX NN URO1 UAGI P2 PD1 FO Vrijheid’s Adrenaline Rush BTr (Rush) and they are also the only 2 Dutch Shepherds to earn the UKC's Police Dog 1 title. This pair's daughter ROM-X AN UJJ UCD UAGI URO3 GRCH Cher Car's Snap Decision BH CSAU CGC (Snap) was the first Dutch Shepherd in the world titled in the four UKC venues of Conformation, Obedience, Agility and Rally Obedience, and her sister ROM-X RBIMBS PTE ME MC SV AN USJCH CA UCD UAGI URO1 UWP GRCH Luna Van Cher Car (Luna) was the first Dutch Shepherd UKC Grand Champion "Super Dog" (having earned titles in the 5 UKC venues of Conformation, Obedience, Agility, Rally Obedience and Weight Pull). Luna was also the FIRST dog (of ANY Breed) to title in every UKC event open to all-breed competition (conformation, obedience, agility, rally obedience, weight pull, lure coursing, dock jumping and nosework).
We are also very honored that our breeder/owner/handled ROM-III BIMBS CH Cher Car's Roja Caliente (Cayenne) was the first Dutch Shepherd to be awarded BEST IN SHOW at a UKC all-breed show, and now her daughter V-1(6x) IntCH/NatlCH BISS(2x) MBIMBS(5x) RBIMBS URO1 GRCH My Girl Tessa of Cher Car (Tessa) has been awarded multiple Best in Show wins as well. Our additional record setters are NGRCH EHD EN UWP CAS UAGII URX2 UROC UCD GSJCH GRCH Laser Dragon von Cher Car CGC SPOT P1 PD1 (Colt) who is the UKC's most titled Dutch Shepherd (with 51 titles) and NBOB NCH BIS BISS RBIS ABIS(11x) ARBIS(2x) UCD WSD EHD EN UAGI UUF GSJCH UNJCH URO1 CA GRCH Cher Car’s Gunpowder N Lace SPOT-ON TD who is the UKC's most titled female Dutch Shepherd (with 45 titles). Our Dutch have also been very succesful in Dock Jumping competition, earning 23 National Championships and 13 National Vice-Champions to date and setting the WORLD RECORD in UAD All-Breed CATCH-IT competition in 2017 and 2018. Many have appeared on television competing at the ESPN X-Games, the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge Diving Dog National Championships and even Late Night with David Letterman!
Becker (left) with Cheryl and his son Dangerous
To be continued.....
I'm still working… still training, still showing, still breeding, still judging, still trialing. As many of you know, I have undergone three cancer surgeries since 2005, including a double mastectomy. I am happy to say I AM a cancer survivor, thanks entirely to early detection; and urge all men and women to conduct self examinations and receive regular check ups and mammograms. Below are a few links for additional information.
Although Cheryl underwent treatment for a recurrence of breast cancer in 2011, it certainly didn't keep her down. Here she is finishing her (bred by) GSD “Kevlar” over the Champions class…
… and taking FIRST PLACE in the Advanced Division of the Michigan K-9 Challenge Protection Dog Tournament the following week! (With another bred by dog, Dutch Shepherd “Becker”.)