I started looking for a German Shepherd to train for Schutzhund, I was very specific and I wasn’t going to settle for just any dog. I specifically wanted a black shepherd with tanned paws or full black in colour and I had a list of tests that I wanted to do on each litter of puppies that I was to look at. The tests I wanted to conduct worried me as some breeders just would not understand why I would want to subject puppies to a variety of tests before I made a selection. I made enquiries with breeders all over Australia looking for the one dog that was to be ours. Every inquiry I made, and every search I conducted all took me back to Von Forell.
I had heard mostly good things about Von Forell and being in law enforcement I had heard stories of their dogs being great workers and I eventually gave Kris Kotsopoulos director of Von Forella call. I spoke with Kris on the phone at length about what I wanted in my future dog. We kept in email contact and Kris explained to me the whole process. Von Forell is interstate and this worried me, leaving my tests to the breeder, I mean I had never met Kris and how was I to know that he wasn’t just leading me on. I really wanted to fly down to see the litter but the work I do didn’t really allow for it. I made more phone calls to people in my LEA (law enforcement agency) and they all told me to trust that Von Forell know what they are doing when it comes to dogs. So I sent Kris the deposit for my dog. My partner just about died when she heard what I was going to pay for the dog, she had bought a German Shepherd for the same price as I had paid for a deposit, hindsight being a beautiful thing, I would have paid a lot more for the dog, knowing what I know now.
Kris copped the onslaught of my millions of phone calls whilst I waited for a dog that was suitable. Kris would not just give me any dog. His patience and professionalism out waited my anxiousness and excitement and he made me wait for what felt like an eternity. On December 2009 my future dog was born. Kris gave me no indication even then that this dog would be mine; he wanted time to carry out his own tests and socialization regiments that make his dogs truly above and beyond. When Kris found out he was progressing well he sent me a photo of puppies in the litter telling me his selection had not been made yet and would be made at around 7 weeks of age. We organized flights and Kris made the whole process effortless for us. His contact by phone eased our worries and advice he provided reassured me we were on the same page with our views about dogs. Our dog arrive and we named him ‘Surtr’ which means ‘the black one’ I’m sure Kris has another name for him but that is what we call him every day.
Kris was in for a shock, I had read on the Von Forell webpage that Von Forell offer support for the life of the dog… boy haven’t I taken advantage of that statement. I am in contact with Kris constantly and if every client of his was like me, he would have to carry 5 batteries for his phone just to get through the day. We constantly discuss training, progress, temperament, drives and many more things related to my dog. My partner cannot believe how much support we have had, and she now knows why I paid the money I did.
Let me tell you about my dog, he has the most solid nerve. He is so easy to train specifically obedience and he loves working for us. His drive is incredible and his grip is getting stronger by the day. We went out of our way to follow Kris’s advice during socialization and the results are remarkable.
Our dog has been socialized to children, dogs, unknown surfaces, sounds, stairs, even the vacuum cleaner and lawn mower. We follow specific rules and we maintain his structure, rank order, and discipline and I honestly cannot believe how good the reward is to have such a wonderful dog.
As we have a working dog we do things slightly differently to raising normal pets. This is more work for us, but also necessary for working animals. If I was to buy a pet dog, I would still go again through Von Forell. Temperament is genetic and Kris has shown he really does have the knowledge to pick the dog that is right for you. You will never find another breeder or person that cares as much about your dog as you do, and will go out of his way to accommodate your every request.
Kris and his wife Tonia have earned our respect as breeders, as professionals, as trainers, and even though we haven’t met them face to face yet we consider them to be our friends.
Neal Harris Australia