By Lynn Stacy-Smith
As a little boy, Nathan Klegseth of Las Vegas, Nevada wanted to be a canine officer with the police department to work with the magnificent police dogs that accompany so many officers as partners against criminals. Although injuries and health issues prevented that dream from coming true when it was time to try out for a spot in the police academy, Nathan found another way to work with dogs.
Nathan’s first job out of high school was working for the organization MPK9, an all-breed dog training facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. While working at MPK9 Nathan studied dog training under training center owner and Master Trainer Gregory Conner, helping him train his German Shepherd. A lifelong dog lover, Nathan developed a love of training and became Gregory’s apprentice, earning his Journeyman Trainer certificate two years later.
With his Journeyman Trainer certificate earned, Nathan was put in charge of Citizen K9, a Las Vegas non-profit group that rescues, trains and re-homes at-risk dogs. Nathan visited local shelters and rescued German Shepherds, Rottweilers and other working breeds who had found their way into the shelter for a variety of reasons. “Sometimes people didn’t understand them or vice versa; sometimes people didn’t know how to handle them so they’d give them to us,” Nathan said, “We would take them to the facility, nourish them back to health, spay or neuter them and then train them.”
Working in the summer in 120 degree heat from 6 am until 11 pm, Nathan cleaned kennels, cared for the dogs, trained and played with them. Nathan explained, “We would rescue the dogs and they would not go back out with the same problem that they came in with.” Some of the dogs became pets, some went through a pre-protection course to alert for intruders at the door of a residence. Many were adopted out to police officers who wanted a dog who could be a family member but also protect their wives and families when the officer was working and unable to be home.
Adopting families paid for the training that had gone into the dog instead of paying an adoption fee. Extensive training was done with each dog. Nathan explained about their training methods, “We only take the dog as far as the dog wants to go” he said, “We want all dogs to work off of love. If they don’t feel that love, they’re not going to work for us.” Some of the dogs went through training similar to that of a service dog, including trips to the airport where Nathan and fellow trainers would walk the dogs around and let them experience and hear things like airplanes, humans talking, people rushing past with luggage. This built up the dogs’ confidence so that they could function comfortably around humans. “We wanted each dog to go to the best home that they could go to” Nathan said. Nathan talked about some of the dogs who were so mentally damaged that they could not handle the stress of being a protection dog, so they were placed with humans that could give them a comfortable and low-stress lifestyle.
Nathan has trained a lot of dogs in his career as a dog trainer. He has trained police dogs for the Las Vegas Metro Police Department as well as protection dogs, executive protection dogs, patrol dogs service dogs, as well as basic obedience.
Nathan took a break from dog training to attend college. After college he became a pastor, married his wife and moved back to Las Vegas. When the chance to breed his beloved German Shepherds came his way he jumped at the opportunity.
A German stud dog named Mack, imported from the top kennel in Germany, was the first dog in his breeding program Vomkaiserberg Kennels, which is primarily a stud service that has very few litters with their females. Mack lives with another partner in the kennels as does their female GSD Katia. Like many other reputable breeders, Vomkaiserberg Kennels breeds only the highest caliber dogs and strives to produce healthy dogs with good hips and who are able to work as a German Shepherd is designed to. His most recent addition to his program is Mex, a beautiful boy who lives with Nathan and his wife Ashley.
Nathan attributes many of his accomplishments with his German Shepherd breeding program to Canine Caviar holistic pet food. Nathan said, “Mex came to us about a month ago from a home in Las Vegas, weighing 55/57 pounds, very malnourished. Previously he had been kept in a cage and only allowed out of the cage to breed. Because of Canine Caviar Open Sky Grain Free Holistic kibble duck formula now 4-6 weeks later he now weighs 75 pounds. Canine Caviar has really helped him a lot. His coat is really shiny and all of our dogs are on Canine Caviar. We couldn’t be happier with it.”
Nathan talked about diarrhea being a reoccurring issue with many German Shepherds. He likes the Open Sky duck formula because he has experienced that Canine Caviar cleans these intestinal issues up and gives them solid stools. All Vomkaiserberg Kennel puppies are fed Canine Caviar as are his wife Ashley’s Yorkshire Terriers. Nathan likes it that the Yorkies and Shepherds are able to eat the same diet with Canine Caviar.
No longer in a cage, Mex now lives in the house with the other dogs and the Shepherds and Yorkies get along great. Nathan and his wife are very much for animal rights, are careful about the food they eat, like cage free eggs. He is gentle yet firm with his dogs.
Nathan talked about dog training and said, “Dog whispering is connecting to the dog on an emotional level. You have to understand your dog’s personality, have to understand what’s going to work for your dog and what’s not going to work for your dog.” He continued to say, “The dog knows what to do, and you have to know how to tap into the dogs mind and become one, where the dog knows what you are going to do before you even do it, that’s when you are able to really dog whisper.”
Having worked both in dog rescue and as a breeder, not every potential puppy buyer passes the criteria for a puppy. He evaluates every family and family situation carefully and has a contract that stipulates that the puppy will never be taken to a shelter. The contract also stipulates that the dog will be repossessed if there is any evidence of abuse. Each situation is different, have to evaluate each family differently. Some buyers he refers to Citizen K9 club for a rescued dog if a puppy is not the right fit for them.
Breeding is a hobby based on his love of dogs, not his business. Nathan breeds infrequently, sometimes fewer than once a year. He breeds out of love of the German Shepherd breed not to earn a profit, saying “the reason why dog is man’s best friend is that he’s the only animal that will love you back without asking for anything in return. I just love on them and we have fun and that’s it.”
To read more about Vomkaiserberg Kennels or the Citizen K9 club, click on the links below: