Hi my name is Stefanie McLagan and I would like to tell you about my Cooper. September of 2017 I started looking to get a new dog and I knew I wanted a German Shepherd. In 2002 I got my first dog and it was a chocolate lab and when I had to put him to sleep because he got old it was so heartbreaking I didn’t think that I could go through that again. It took me almost 5 years to decide that I wanted another dog.
I saw an ad for German Shepherd puppies on a Facebook website and I contacted Rhonda right away and probably asked her a million questions and I believe it only took me 1 day to decide that I wanted a puppy. That weekend we drove from Wayne, NE to Hull, IA to go pick up my new puppy. I’m not going to lie I was super nervous because 1. It was a new adventure and I was getting a puppy and I’m thinking to myself do I remember how to do this stuff all over again? 2. I’m meeting new people (always get nervous meeting new people). When we pulled up to the driveway we knew we were in the right place because we saw at least 3 German Shepherds and I knew right then and there that this was the best place .
Rhonda’s daughter came out and greeted us because Rhonda was inside with someone else taking home there puppy. She took us in the house and the setup they had for the puppies and Mommy was so cool. Had a huge area for them to hang out with and was just so awesome seeing all of Cooper’s brothers and sisters playing. When Rhonda handed me Cooper my heart melted and I knew that this is what I needed to fill that hole in my heart when I lost my first dog.
At the beginning of this year we went back to Hull, IA so they could see Cooper and Cooper could see his Mom and Dad. It was the cutest thing and I thank them all the time for letting us come there to visit.
I would highly recommend the Van Der Zwaag family because they care about their puppies and where they go! I have had a lot of people ask me where I got Cooper and I tell them where I got him and say that they are the best family! I honestly don’t know what I would do without Cooper because he is definitely my best friend. He makes me smile everyday and I think that everyone needs that in their life .
Gunner is our 3rd GSD. We had each one for life! All 3 were from different Breeders. We had multiple problems with our other two that required a lot of Vet bills and one of any early death a 6 years old. We found out the hard way that we were getting GSD that were overbred. I choseVan der Zwaags GSD. Because she invited us into her home where the puppies were with the mother. They showed us the father. He was a small litter of only 5 pups! They were family dogs, not overbreeding for the greed of it! This was very important to us. She let us know that her female would only have 1 more litter being only 2, because she loved her dog and didn’t want to do that to her! This meant the world to us. During our time of picking him out and him coming home, they kept in contact with pics etc. They truly love and care for their dogs. Gunner will be 2 yrs. old August 15th. 2018. When he came home at 8 weeks. He immediately as a pup had to learn what it was like to be around a handicapped person. My husband a Vietnam Vet that had a huge brain tumor removed, 2 weeks prior to Gunners arrival. He was so smart he potty trained completely on the 2nd day! He would go stand and stare at the door I taught him to potty out of. We never after the 1st day had an accident in our house. I picked him up midstream and just set him out the same door every time on the grass. He caught it very fast! He learned to walk beside the walker slow and gently and not cut my husband off walking with the walker which would endanger him to fall. He automatically did that. No training! He also to this day goes slower and gentler with my husband than I. He knows I have the ability to GO! We socialized Gunner right away! With adults, children and all breeds of dogs. Through play with all the other breeds he learned maneuvers that all the other breeds use. I didn’t realize it but, it became an advantage to him later on as he grew bigger and bigger and other dogs would want to challenge him at the dog park, in public etc. He 39 inches tall to date and weighs 105 lbs. He runs approx. 6 miles or more per day. Being socialized at the dog park, Dog Daycamp, public etc. Made him automatically learn how to avoid a fight. He does it at all cost! He maneuvers his way out of the situation and jumps high! So if there’s two that gang up. He springs straight up in the air and jumps out of the situation. He has that advantage with his height. He has only had to get serious once. He took the mean dog down by the neck and just held it there. Never wounded it or bit it. He just held it until I diffused the situation. He loves you unconditionally and you and you and you! He loves everyone! Gunner has learned to sit, stay, lay down, stay, Shake, and touch. All of these commands were taught by words with a hand motion to each one. Now all I need is hand motions only! It comes in real handy when somebody is around where you want them by your side or they get far away from you playing. He is always aware of his surroundings. He keeps his on on us all the time. I hand motion and he is here! He loves to play fetch and gets most of his exercise doing that. The solid running is key to his obedience for the rest of the day. Every morning he is exercised faithfully. To let you know how much he pays attn. he know when my one coffee mug is tipped up and to the bottom, it’s time to go to the dog park and run! He has learned touch for a very important reason for us. This is so he would be able to go to public places and touch the handicapped buttons for my husband and open the doors for him. He learned it so fast! Now he uses it for everything. He goes over and touches his leash and looks at you, that means let’s go! He touches the door with his nose and looks at you to go outside. He touches the door handles with his nose to let you know he wants in that room. He trained so fast and easy! He exceeded all of my expectations. Gunner is a working dog. That means he is happiest when he’s working. When he goes on a walk, he has a set of dog saddlebags/ backpacks. On each side he has to carry 2 bottles of water. I have never used a choke chain on him, just a simple slip rope. He goes into working mode as soon as the back pack is in! He walks perfectly by my side with only 6 inches of leave way. The walk is not to stop and sniff around. It is work time! He’s loves it! That means we are on a mission to travel and carry that water. Another thing he did all on his own was Herd. He is the best herder! He can herd 30dogs at a time and send them in the direction he wants them or he is also known where we live as the babysitter. LOL! If he sees a fight break out between 2 dogs he quickly herds them over as if to tell them to knock it off! They mind him! He had that height and body weight and he uses it in a very good way. Gunner is also excellent in agility. He can jump from a standing position so high in the air it is amazing! His hips are so strong that even the Vet is amazed at his health.
Gunner will never have elbow problems as I had a shepherd that did. He has none of those signs. He is a picture of health! He is very confident and always stands and sits very proud! He is fearless! Fireworks don’t bother him, he just doesn’t like hail. He is a very good boy and we were very impressed when Rhonda and her husband came to visit him when they were in our town at approx. a year old. They care about their pups and where they go!
we all keep in contact on Facebook and I love that! We get to see his brother and his sisters too. When you get one of there dogs, you get part of their family. That to me is important! Gunner is so well rounded. We hear it everywhere we go. His personality is playful and loving but lives to work! Work can be play and that’s what we make it. I hope this helps in choosing where you get your new or next GSD. They are the best! Gunner is our life and we are his! A very faithful boy that is smart and eager to learn anything you have to teach him. It is endless! Exercise and socializing is key! Do that and you will have a forever faithful fur baby. Thank you Van der zwaag’s for giving us the love of our life and a dog that’s eager to please, but never afraid at the same time.