We’d like to congratulate André and Gwen of Steadfast Old World GSD, LLC, and Steadfast Service Dogs, a pending 501c3. Over the past few years, they have been (very very very) quietly providing service dogs to veterans, survivors of the Parkland school shooting, and injured law enforcement officers. (One of our friends is currently in possession of one of these miracle pups at The Wounded Blue!)
André is a former Police Officer who was diagnosed with PTSD before service dogs were prevalent. His wife, Gwen, noticed that his new dog, Snouticus, seemed to mitigate many of his symptoms, especially his discomfort in crowds. The dog was such a life-changing addition for Andre (as well as for the entire family) that they decided to train Snouticus as a service dog for André, first with PTSD related tasks and later with diabetic alert.
After seeing the difference that Snouticus made in all their lives, the family agreed that producing dogs like Snouticus and providing others with life-altering dogs was something they needed to do. In order to accomplish that, they have developed crucial relationships with both Law Enforcement and civilian K9 trainers.
André and Gwen breed a line of German Shepherds that are uniquely suited to service dog work. Their dogs exhibit calm temperaments, extreme handler focus, and are very malleable. They are also larger than breed standard, which allows them to do heavy mobility work for military and law enforcement with traumatic brain injuries, missing limbs, and serious mobility challenges. In order to reliably place successful service dogs, they certify each of their dogs’ hips and elbows through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), and all of their dogs are completely DM and MDR1 clear. Their dogs routinely live 12-15 years, making for a longer service life.
The people they’ve been able to help have become friends and extended family in many cases, keeping in touch and sharing pictures and stories. The success stories have been humbling. The “Snouticus Puppies” have changed lives, allowing handlers to feel comfortable in public venues, alerting to fragile diabetic lows and being steadfast and loyal companions.
The need for their service dogs is far beyond what this family can casually donate, and Gwen and Andre hope to be able to make a bigger positive impact in the lives of others through their pending 501c3, Steadfast Service Dogs.
Andre is the Executive Director of Steadfast Service Dogs. He has been raising and training large breed working dogs since he was a child. He is active in the movement to provide assistance to law enforcement officers with line of duty injuries, including PTSD and chemical dependency. Andre conducts early evaluations and provides cognitive stimulation to the puppies as well as initial socialization and public access.
Gwen is the Director of Programs and Operations. She is a freelance writer with a background in consulting and program management. She volunteers in projects helping financially disadvantaged children, including designing discovery gardens and spearheading literacy campaigns. Gwen is chief puppy-caregiver and facilitates socialization for the young puppies. She also photo-records each puppy’s growth and behavior.
Their oldest son, Jake, is the Director of Training and Development. Jake has earned his K9 Master Trainer certifications from Georgia K9, making him the youngest K9 Master Trainer in the nation. Jake evaluates puppies for service dog aptitude and develops training and early developmental standards for the puppies. The two younger boys, Nick and Drew, help care for, play with and socialize the puppies.
It’s all hands on deck everyday at Steadfast Service Dogs. Give them a shout out on your pages and show them that the love they have given to so many can be given back to them! Oh, and if you see Snouticus, tell him that his Humans are rock stars. His page is below and is also the best way to reach his Humans for any questions, comments, or advice.