In the week after The Chronicle published a feature story on the Rochester-based German shepherd breeding and training facility Kraftwerk K9 in fall of 2020, the phone rang constantly at the business.
People stuck at home at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic were looking to add pets and protectors to their households, and Kraftwerk K9’s German shepherds fit the bill for both.
“I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing,’” Kraftwerk K9 owner Wayne Curry told a Chronicle reporter last week. “That’s actually what happened for two years.”
Kraftwerk K9 sold an unprecedented number of German shepherds during the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing in a profit that allowed Curry to renovate the facility’s employee room and the dogs’ living accommodations.
“Everything that ever came in from COVID went to the dogs and the people who take care of those dogs,” Curry said.
The 25-acre facility in Rochester is intended to be more like a dog resort than a boarding kennel, prioritizing the dogs’ health and comfort over cost, Curry said.
The new dog houses, each attached to a fenced outdoor area with a concrete ring around a wood chip center, feature climate-controlled rooms, heated tile floors and ceiling fans with lights.
Puppies play with their litter-mates in grass pens outdoors, with an indoor area they can retreat to when it rains.
Each puppy begins training at six weeks old, learning basic skills and building up to advanced drills such as bitework as they age into adulthood.
The combination of breeding and training makes Kraftwerk K9’s German shepherds some of the best in the world, as evidenced by the walls of awards inside the facility’s front office.
Curry takes special pride in the fact that his German shepherds have historically been the only American entries to qualify for German national championships.
“You can hear a pin drop when you show up (to a German competition) … and you’re the only American to have a dog bred like that,” Curry said.
When it comes to German shepherds, Curry said good breeding is more important than training.
“You’ve got to start with the right dog,” Curry said, pointing out Kraftwerk K9’s puppies, which are well-mannered and show no fear toward humans. “They go because of this first, not because of what they can do to bad guys.”
The fact that Kraftwerk K9 doesn’t get noise complaints from its neighbors despite having over 50 dogs on the property is another testament to the dogs’ good demeanor, Curry said.
Kraftwerk K9 started after Curry, who left his job with Boeing in 1987 to become a dog trainer in Centralia, discovered he “couldn’t find a dog good enough” and decided to start breeding them himself. He started with a few exceptional German shepherds: one female he bought from an eccentric seller in the south and one from each of the three most-famous German breeders at the time. Since then, Kraftwerk K9 has bred and trained over 600 German shepherd litters.
“It’s in the bloodline,” Curry said of a dog’s physical and behavioral traits, later adding, “If you’ve got a dog with a weak temperament, you’re going to have a problem.”
The majority of Kraftwerk K9’s puppies are sold before they reach adulthood, Curry said.
Clients include police departments adding K9 units to their ranks, New York City apartment dwellers who need a dog that can handle a big-city lifestyle and single women seeking a guard dog.
No matter who is asking for a dog, Curry said he often insists on talking with them first to make sure the dog and the person are a good fit.
Kraftwerk K9 also has a three-day, no questions asked return policy.
“If that dog's not the right dog, send him back. Don’t try to convince yourself you got the right one,” Curry said.
For more information about Kraftwerk K9, visit https://www.kraftwerkk9.com/.
Read The Chronicle’s 2020 article on Kraftwerk K9 at https://bit.ly/3Lrn2ye.