The Breed that was Bred to Protect



Published:

At Blackriver K-9, it’s not just about training a dog. It’s about protecting a family. from CEO’s to Special Ops the Belgian Malinois is a complete security solution. 

No one needs to tell Jonathon Powell how important it is to feel safe in your own home. Growing up, he seldom felt safe. An abusive father saw to that. With the family constantly on edge of being terrorized, Powell found solace in the most loyal, trusting thing a boy can: his dog. No matter how horrifying home life was, it was his German Shepard Sassy that pulled him through.

“No kid should ever have to go through that stress,” he said. “But it’s interesting that I wound up doing what I do. That played a major role in why I’m providing these great protectors to families.”

Through his company, Blackriver, Powell is in the protection business. Specifically, he deals in four-legged protectors.

These protectors come in the form of specially bred and trained dogs who play that same role as Sassy did so many years ago: a relentlessly loyal protector for families. But unlike Sassy, these dogs are expertly trained by Jonathan and his wife Sarah to act as the ultimate in living, breathing protection.

 

Also in contrast to Sassy, you won’t find any German Shephards at Blackriver. All of the dogs the company raises and trains are either Malinois or Dutch Shephards, breeds specifically selected for trainability and loyalty. “We’re very particular about the genetic quality of these dogs,” said Powell. “German Shephards are few and far between that pass our requirements—and they are very stringent requirements.”

Once the dog is selected, Blackriver puts it through rigorous training that represents the forefront of best practices and techniques.

“Each dog that goes out we either bred or picked out at six weeks old specifically for family protection,” said Powell. “During those 18 months we expose it to every environment possible. Children, the elderly, wheelchairs, gunfire, flying on an airplane, riding in a car, downtown environments… everything we can throw at that dog, because you never know.”

Even Jonathan and Sarah’s daughter Lillie Scott Powell joins in as Blackriver’s ear-puller-in-chief. “The biggest thing is exposure to that hectic family life.”

 

That dedication to family is one of the cornerstones of Blackriver’s approach. Because while the dog is joining the family for protection, the Powells never lose sight of the fact that this dog is becoming a part of a family. “When we bring this dog in, we’re spending 4–5 days with the family. You end up playing a bit of a psychiatrist as well—we really work with their emotions.”

And those families run the gamut, from CEOs to Special Ops. While you might picture a person who owns a trained dog as being heavily armed and fairly dangerous in their own right, Blackriver has provided dogs to all ends of the spectrum.

“Our dogs fit a wide range of people. It might be that guy who has a lot of guns, it might be that guy who doesn’t like guns and that’s precisely why he got the dog,” said Powell.

What’s more, Blackriver is able to provide these dogs at a much more affordable price point than most trainers. The average cost for one of their dogs, including training and in-house placement, averages around $20,000, well below market average.

 

“If more people took their families personal security into consideration there wouldn’t be this heavy dependence on government resources.”

 

“We want them to be somewhat affordable—not just for the über rich,” Powell said. “If more people took their families personal security into consideration there wouldn’t be this heavy dependence on government resources.”

As Powell puts it, finding the right dog for the right family, and giving them the safety and security they need, is where Blackriver’s heart is. And it’s a labor of love that began when Jonathan and Sarah were still dating. Currently a trainer for the Spartanburg Sheriff’s Office, Sarah was then training dogs in Colorado for search and rescue. It was Jonathan’s first exposure to the working breeds, and the immense loyalty and creativity they show in keeping their family safe.

Their first sale happened when a friend of Jonathan’s, himself a police dog trainer, offered to buy a Malinois the couple had trained. “He said we’d done a phenomenal job training this dog; it was great with the family but it also performed on the street.”

More police dogs followed, until the couple received their first civilian request. And thus, Blackriver was born, dedicated to giving families the very finest in canine protection. The Powells, now living in Spartanburg, are currently building a six-acre facility just outside of town that will be finished in a year.

To read more, subscribe now or pick up the August/September issue of South magazine.  

Edit ModuleShow Tags

South's Greatest Moms Contest 2019

We're looking for the greatest, most authentic and sincere, southern moms. Taking nominations November 1st!

South's Greatest Dads 2019

Show your dad some love and enter him in the South's Greatest Dads contest and get him some votes!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • Yoga Fest

    Jan 19, 2019
    9:00 AM - 3:00 PM @ Savannah Yoga Center

    Jump start 2019 with FREE YOGA and a commitment to your physical and mental health ! Bring your friends, your family, your coworkers, your...

  • Power Yoga Principles

    Jan 05, 2019
    11:00 AM - 12:15 PM @ Savannah Power Yoga

    This class is intended for students who are new to yoga as well as those hoping to learn more about finding their best alignment in each of the...

  • Rib-Off at Coastal Empire Beer!

    Jan 19, 2019
    12:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Coastal Empire Beer Co.

    We love smoked meat and craft beer during the cold months so we're hosting a Rib Cook-off, "Rib-Off", at the taproom! If you think...

  • 9th Annual Savannah Roast On The River

    Jan 19, 2019
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Hogans Marina

    It's our 9th annual Roast on the River in Savannah, GA, coming January 19! Come out to Hogan's Marina on Wilmington Island to enjoy fresh...

  • Fundamentals of Salsa On2 (Mambo Style)

    Jan 16, 2019
    7:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Fit912savannah

    Fundamentals of Salsa On2 (Mambo Style)    Fundamentals of Salsa On2 (Mambo style) is for beginners and advanced beginners  of this type of...

  • Best of Broadway

    Jan 19, 2019
    7:30 PM - 10:00 PM @ Johnny Mercer Theatre

    (SAVANNAH, GA) - The Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus is slated to present its first 2019 concert, The Best of Broadway. The Savannah...

  • Collin's Barefoot ComedyClub w/Zoltan Kaszas

    Jan 19, 2019
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    National headline comedian Collin Moulton's monthly stand-up comedy show always features his own brand of hilarious and family-friendly comedy, a...

  • 2019 The Delta Quadrant 5K & 10K Savannah Virtual Run

    Jan 19, 2019
    All Day @ Virtual Race

    The Delta Quadrant 5K & 10K is our sixth annual race inspired by Star Trek. Participants asked us to do a Voyager inspired medal, so...

  • Toddler Touch Tanks

    Dec 06, 2018
    All Day @ UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium

    Explore the coast with your child in a unique setting perfect for inspiring wonder and curiosity! During select Thursdays in January and December,...

  • Savannah Hockey Classic

    Jan 18, 2019
    All Day @ Savannah Civic Center

    The Savannah Hockey Classic is a collegiate hockey tournament that features four of the South’s most exciting hockey programs: University of...

  • License to Chill Snow Island

    Nov 16, 2018
    All Day @ Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

    Margaritaville at Lanier Islands is preparing for a winter wonderland makeover that will surprise and delight local residents and travelers...

  • Annie the Musical

    Jan 18, 2019
    All Day @ Savannah Children's Theatre

    Leapin' lizards! Little orphan Annie goes on a New York City adventure to find her parents, and ultimately, her forever home. With classic...

  • Brunch, Wine, & Song

    Jan 20, 2019
    1:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Elizabeth on 37th

    Elizabeth’s on 37th is hosting a special afternoon to benefit the Savannah Children’s Choir and Coastal Youth Choirs. Attendees will...

  • Clean Coast Annual Oyster Roast

    Jan 20, 2019
    All Day

    Savannah's original and best Oyster Roast ! Enjoy delicious local oysters harvested from Oyster Creek by hardworking Clean Coast volunteers,...

  • Tipsy Hot Chocolate Festival

    Jan 22, 2019
    5:30 PM - 7:00 PM @ Grand Lake Club at Southbridge

    Guests will enjoy “tipsy” hot chocolate samples and sweet treats from Savannah’s best chefs and bartenders, and will have the...

  • "The Favourite"

    Jan 23, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    “The Favourite” is a deliciously tawdry black comedy that’s also a surprisingly affecting period drama taking place in the somewhat...

  • Fundamentals of Bachata

    Jan 16, 2019
    8:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ fit912savannah

    Fundamentals of Bachata    Come learn the sensual dance of Bachata with us. We're a small Savannah group and  would love to expand it with dance...

  • Blowing Rock Winterfest

    Jan 24, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Downtown Blowing Rock

    Don’t hibernate-celebrate! Join us for the fun side of winter with events like the Polar Plunge, WinterFeast, WinterPaws Dog Show, WinterFashion...

  • "Keita Takahashi: Zooming Out" Exhibition at Telfair Musuems

    Jan 24, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums hosts the first museum survey of the work of visionary videogame designer Keita Takahashi (Japanese, b. 1975). Takahashi is noted...

  • 2019 Lip Sync Battle

    Jan 24, 2019
    7:00 PM @ Savannah Station

    Join us for the 3rd Annual Savannah Lip Sync Battle presented by David Pence of Pence Family Agency (Allstate) on Thursday, January 24th! The...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

PUTTING Away Crime

On Saturday, January 12, 2019 Savannah helped McGruff the Crime Dog take a bite out of crime at the Crimestoppers Savannah's 3rd Annual Putt Putt Mini Golf Tournament held at Island Miniature Golf and Game on Wilmington Island. Proceeds went to helping fund rewards for the Crimestopper's anonymous crime tip line.

Dining in the Dark

On Saturday, January 12, 2019, the 3rd Annual Dining in the Dark event presented by The Charles C. Taylor and Samir Nikocevic Charitable Foundation benefitting the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision, was held at the Embassy Suites/Downtown Savannah.

Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2018

Savannah's 39 Rue De Jean celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the official end of this year’s growing season. Harvest is complete and vintners—especially in France—are ready to celebrate the completion of the harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine that is annually released on the third Thursday in November. Nouveau wine undergoes a very short fermentation process, and yields an extremely fresh and fruity wine.

A Chefs Collaborative

This five course dinner held at Pacci Italian Kitchen and Bar allowed guests to taste exceptional flavors steeped in tradition. Included were the culinary skills of Chef Adam Barnett of The Katharine Brasserie & Bar, Winston-Salem, NC, Chef Robert Hoffman of Angeline’s Charlotte, NC, Chef Daniel Gorman of The Henley Nashville, TN, Chef Sebastien Rondier of Brabo, Alexandria, VA, and Chef Lauren Teague of PACCI Italian Kitchen + Bar.

East and West BBQ

A whole hog BBQ showcase, from two of the south’s most legendary Pitmasters, Pat Martin and Sam Jones. Hosted by Alida Hotel this event was a fabulous juxtaposition between Eastern North Carolina style BBQ and Western Tennessee style. Made possible by the Savannah Food and Wine Festival.

Savannah Food & Wine Fest

Hundreds came to experience Southern charm and hospitality, Savannah Style. The South's best culinary happenings - one exceptional week in Savannah. Iconic and historic coastal venues provided the perfect backdrop for gourmet and fun. South magazine captured the experience at the VIP tent.

Big Wig Boat Bash

Savannah's Riverboat, The Georgia Queen set sail to host the final fundraiser for the 2018 class of Big Wigs, together raising over $100,000 for the Susan G. Komen Coastal Georgia Foundation. This evening included heavy hors d’oeuvres, beverages, a silent auction, music and dancing and a contest to crown the Biggest BigWig! Contest categories included: The Biggest Wig, The Pink Ribbon Award and Best Pink Personality.

Boo Bash

This spooktacular evening included hors d’oeuvres, “spirits,” music and dancing, a Halloween costume contest with cash prizes, Halloween-themed entertainment, a 50/50 raffle, live auction and talent contest. Contest categories included: Dancing, Singing, Rapping, Stand-up Comedy and Lip Syncing.

Masquerade at the Mansion

Plenty of patrons donned masks and beads for an unforgettable Mardi Gras at the Mansion. There unique entertainment, food, and decor including magic fire, beignets, king cake and a photo booth, plus music and dancing, libations, late-night treats, and lots of surprises.

DineSouth After Party

This year's DineSouth ended in a blast. Dozens headed over to Barrellhouse, who hosted the after party. They enjoyed great drinks and live music by Individually Twisted.