Max Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz

maxstephanitzMax Emil Friedrich von Stephanitz was born in Dresden, Kingdom of Saxony, into German nobility on December30, 1864.  Although he wished to become a farmer his family was opposed to this choice and Stephanitz ultimately became a career cavalry office.  During his cavalry travels be observed the different Shepherd Dogs working throughout the Countryside. 

While in the Calvary he spent time serving at the VeterinaryCollege in Berlin gaining valuable knowledge about biology, anatomy, and the science of movement.  In 1898 von Stephanitz was promoted to Captain.  Meantime, Stephanitz purchased a large estate near Grafrath where he would spend the remainder of his life developing, writing, and training what was to become the German Shepherd Dog.

Stephanitz enjoyed attending dog shows where he was stuck by the wolfish appearing dogs with prick ears who exhibited intelligence, sharp senses, willingness to work and trainability.  While attending a fair in 1899 Stephanitz saw a large,compact, wolfish grey dog that immediately stuck him as a dog exemplifying the ideals he was seeking.  Stephanitz purchased the dog whose name was Hektor Linkrshein.   

 Stephanitz changed the dog’s name to Horand von Grafrath who would become the first registered Shepherd Dog of a newly formed club.  


Dorothy Eustis

Dorothy Eustis (1886 – 1946)


The SEEING EYE, founded by Dorothy Eustis in 1929, was a source of hope and independence for the visually impaired.  How befitting that Dorothy Eustis was born in Philadelphia, the site of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America 2013 Centennial Celebration. In 1921 Ms. Eustis moved to Switzerland where she instituted a breeding kennel exclusively for German Shepherd Dogs.  In 1927 she wrote an article about a German School that trained dogs to assist blind veterans.   This article changed forever the life of Morris Frank who was blind.  Mr. Frank contacted Mrs. Eustis and went to Switzerland where he learned to work with a German Shepherd named “BUDDY”.

FrankBuddySwissThe Eustis’s returned to the US and established the first SEEING EYE school in Nashville TN the home town of Morris Frank who had attended Vanderbilt University.  In 1932 the school was moved to New Jersey.  At the time of her death in 1946 the school had trained and provided over 1300 dogs for the blind.

"Bystanders look on in amazement as they witness the first SEEING EYE DOG BUDDY, lead her blind master, Morris Frank through the streets of Nashville TN"

Read more about Dorothy Harrison Eustis and this program in a 1927 article in the Saturday Evening Post at the bottom on this series of articles.

Buddy Morris & Dorothy


Morris Frank and Dorothy Eustis are pictured with Buddy, the first lady of the seeing eye.

Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge

Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge's Cadillac for Dogs


Mrs Dodge had a specially built Cadillac which had 8 doors and could accommodate 12 dogs. She was frequently seen arriving at dog shows with the Cadillac filled with dogs, grooming equipment, and her kennel staff.

 Mrs. Dodge is pictured here with Ch. Girlada's Iso Von Doernerhog ScH at the first Morris and Essex Kennel Club Show.

Iso was said to have influenced the breed during that era.

Von Stephanitz in 1930


Captain Max Von Stephanitz, known as the “Father of the Breed” in Germany, is pictured judging the Kennel Show, “Morris and Essex” which was established by Mrs. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge.

The year is 1930. Captain Von Stephanitz critiqued each dog and bitch despite the large entry. In fact there were so many entries Captain Von Stephanitz judged all males the day before so that two judges would not be needed.

Von Stephanitz was invited to judge by Mrs. Dodge and she saw to it that the Captain was entertained while in America.

The polo fields where Morris and Essex was held was located on the grounds of Mrs. Dodge’s estate in New Jersey.

The Morris and Essex was not held in the years from 1941 through 1945 due to World War II. The site was used for top secret meetings during the war.

Mr. Dodge was owner and President of Remington Arms Company which supplied the majority of the arms and ammunition used by the US during the war. General Eisenhower met there with his War Department staff and ultimately became a close friend of Mr. Dodge.

Morris & Essex in 1927

eu51q4t2This picture was taken at Morris and Essex in the year 1927. There were a total of 595 entries , one of the largest entries of any breed at the show.

The dogs and handlers are identified left to right:


Dorothy Harrison Eustis - 1927 Saturday Evening Post


Saturday Evening Post, Nov. 5, 1927, p. 43.

The Seeing Eye by Dorothy Harrison Eustis

To everyone, I think, there is always something particularly pathetic about a blind man. Shorn of his strength and his independence, he is a prey to all the sensitiveness of his position and he is at the mercy of all with whom he comes in contact. The sensitiveness, above all, is an almost insuperable obstacle to cope with in his fight for a new life, for life goes on willy-nilly and the new conditions must be reckoned with. In darkness and uncertainty he must start again, wholly dependent on outside help for every move. His other senses may rally to his aid, but they cannot replace his eyesight. To man's never failing friend has been accorded this special privilege. Gentlemen, I give you the German shepherd dog.

Because of their extraordinary intelligence and fidelity, Germany has chosen her own breed of shepherd dog to help her in the rehabilitation of her war blind, and in the lovely city of Potsdam she has established a very simple and business-like school for training her dogs as blind leaders. Inclosed in a high board fence, the school consists of dormitories for the blind, kennels for the dogs and quarters for the teachers, the different buildings framing a large park laid out in sidewalks and roads with curbs, steps, bridges and obstacles of all kinds, such as scaffoldings, barriers, telegraph poles and ditches -- everything in fact that the blind man has to cope with in everyday life.

SeeingEyeMany Dogs and No Fights

Three forces work together to make this school the model that it has become: The German Government, the Shepherd Dog Club of Germany and the association of war-blinded soldiers. The latter is a splendid organization of some 3000 men which strives continually and successfully to keep its members in work and above pity or charity and out of the class of beggars and peddlers. The government furnishes the land for the school and further grants each blind man a subsidy for his dog's keep after he has left the school.

The dogs are supplied by the Shepherd Dog Club of Germany and are either donated or bought at the lowest price compatible with the qualities they must have, for these blind leaders are the distant cousins and the cinderellas of famous show dogs; they not only have the goods but they deliver them in the shape of courage, intelligence and service. The total cost of a dog, trained and ready to leave the school, is about sixty dollars, which includes the initial cost of the dog.

They must be young and healthy, with quiet, steady nerves and a good character. As a whole, they are a very nice looking lot, especially when you take into consideration that not more than ten or twelve dollars has been paid for one of them. Moreover, they have a certain expression in their eyes, a sturdiness and interest which is too often lacking in their fashionable cousins. As the qualities of courage and intelligence are characteristics of the German shepherd dog wherever he is found unspoiled by intensive show breeding, it is not so hard to collect groups of these leaders for the blind as it would seem, and after a few simple tests to prove he is fit for the service, the new recruit can go to work, and all his work is founded on obedience.

Read more: Dorothy Harrison Eustis - 1927 Saturday Evening Post