Hidden Heroes

Posted by Lisa Jenkins on 16th Oct 2016



With his long hair, his “Dukes of Hazard” car and being the drummer in the thrash metal group Wartooth many people would stereotype Nathan Knappstein but he is one of our “hidden heroes” here at GSDs in Need.A member of the K9 Masterclass team he switches to the “soft and fluffy” side as we refer to ourselves here and helps us clean our kennels and care for our dogs.

But there is a more important role that he plays in the rescue.

Many of the dogs come to us because they have failed behavioural assessments at pounds and shelters due to dog or human aggression.

He connects with dogs that have a bite history or are so fearful they will cower in the back of the kennel – too afraid to come forward – those who work with dogs know that these can be the most dangerous biters of all as when you are moving them they have nowhere to “flight” so the only way they feel they can protect themselves is to “bite” to stop the threat that they perceive is happening to them due to the abuse they have endured throughout their lives.

Nathan looks at the dogs from a completely different perspective – he doesn’t look at them within the confines of a strict set of guidelines – he watches their behaviours and determines which dogs can be matched up with our other dogs and which dogs are merely showing fence line aggression.

Maybe he empathises with them as he too can be judged on his appearance, his love of thrash metal and the passion he has for his music (thankfully he also likes 80s and 90s music that we have playing in the kennels) and he too is stereotyped.

Holding a degree in Economics Nathan has found it hard to find a job in his chosen area (although even when he finally gets the job that he wants he still wants to keep his hand in and help our rescue dogs).We are amazed that such a dedicated, talented young guy has found it so difficult to find someone who wants to employ him and whilst we and our dogs are grateful that he is here with us every day – we want to see Nathan fly – fly into a role in which he would excel or to fulfil his dreams and for his band Wartooth to be a massive success (we tell him he will need to make tax deductible donations when he’s made his first million).

Nathan is pictured here with Rocky and Bebe – two of his favourites.Bebe came in with extreme human aggression.She has heavy scarring to her face where she was repeatedly stabbed and it was Nathan that first earned her trust.Rocky came to us labelled with dog aggression and being an ex working dog failed his behavioural assessment on all levels.Nathan could see that Rocky was just a loveable rogue and paired him up with Bebe as Rocky gave her confidence and the two are now a bonded pair.

In past decades those in the music industry used to support animal and human rights – sadly today with so many manufactured bands we see those using their fame to promote the wearing of fur with no compassion for the animals who have suffered so they can get their five minutes of social media fame.

Let’s celebrate a real hero and a band that has grown not through appearing on a reality TV show but a band doing it the old-fashioned way through hard work and gigging.

Whilst Wartooth may not be your kind of music – share their utube clips with those who do and hopefully our hidden hero can achieve the kind of success he truly deserves for the difference he has made to hidden victims – German Shepherds who do not elicit sympathy like smaller breeds, where horrific training methods can be used to “turn” dogs into security dogs with no public outcry as they are seen as a “hard” breed.There are so many synergies between what Nathan does at night and what he does during the day and whilst we would like him to stay with us and our dogs – we need to see him fly and to have the success he truly deserves as a thank you from each and every dog who thanks to him have gone from a life of misery, fear and despair to a life where each day they are loved, treasured and adored.

Nathan Knappstein drummer in Wartooth you are our hero and we hope you get the success your truly deserve