Steve Stoops and Sonja Nordstrom, have been crossing paths in the professional K9 world since 1997 as colleagues with like-minded training philosophies and a passion for the working dog. They have “walked the walked” across the world and know what it is to rely on a dog for security. As a Heimdallr K9 Services client, you receive not just a loyal canine companion, but also a skilled team that provides personal attention and training to integrate a Heimdallr Dog into your life.

Steven Stoops

Steve “Zane” Stoops spent the last 19 years as the Senior Combat Assault Dog Trainer (CAD) for the United States Joint Special Operations Command-JSOC, assigned to the 1st SFOD-D, located at Ft. Liberty, NC (retired January 2024.) He and a very small and exclusive group of Special Operators are the innovators who developed many K9 training philosophies utilized today by the most elite SOF tactical working dog programs throughout the world. Steve actively handled these dogs in numerous combat situations facing fire fights, suicide bombers, and IEDs. A veteran of 14 combat deployments, Steve was also requested by and assisted Naval Special Warfare units in Iraq. During this time, Steve also played a crucial role in the development of the following CAD programs worldwide:

  • Conducted the initial training course for Army Ranger CAD program.

  • Selected and trained the CADs and Handlers for the elite British Special Forces, traveling to England to instruct at the inaugural K9 course for both British Army and Naval Special Operators and their dogs.

  • Selected and trained the dogs for the Danish Jaeger Corps, traveling to Scandinavia to conduct training events.

  • Stood up a K9 program in a combat zone by importing dogs into the zone for the Kurdish Counter Terror Group (CTG).

  • Assisted the German KSK with their CAD program and was co-located with them on a combat deployments.

  • Assisted the Norwegian SOF Dog program in Afghanistan.

  • Stood up the CAD program for the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, selecting and training the K9/Handler teams on a multi-week training course.

Prior to working for Special Operations, Steve stood up and supervised a protection dog program in Afghanistan for Afghan President Hammed Karzai (2002.) Thereafter, Steve stood up a detection dog program in Tirana, Albania, for the Albanian National Police (2003.)

Steve’s K9 career started while serving 15 of his 20 years as a Police K9 Officer in Anderson, Indiana, after serving in the United States Marine Corps as a Security Specialist at U.S. Embassies throughout Europe and South America. While a K9 Officer, Steve was a SWAT Team member, SWAT Dog handler, and a veteran of hundreds of K9 deployments. He experienced numerous violent encounters with suspects including Officer involved shootings and edged weapon attacks and was responsible for numerous narcotics seizures with his K9s. Steve received four Combat Crosses for valor and was awarded an Outstanding Citizenship Award by President Clinton for his work in K9 developing a nationwide anti-drug program for elementary students, “The Puppy Patrol.”

Steve has taught dozens of K9 seminars throughout the country for both professionals and civilian handlers and is a qualified Subject Matter Expert in the United States Federal Court System regarding Police K9s.

Sonja Nordstrom

Sonja’s experiences and professional history have resulted in a unique blend of elite level K9 training, extensive K9 field work, investigative field experience, legal and courtroom experience, and a treasure trove of component and precision-based K9 training techniques.

Sonja retired from the FBI in 2014 after serving 23 years as a Special Agent. While serving, she was assigned as Case Agent for hundreds of violent crime investigations, handling and supporting all investigative aspects from the initial complaint to final conviction and sentencing. She specialized for most of her career in the investigation of crimes against children while also working many serial homicide cases with her K9s.

Since 1995, Sonja completed thousands of hours of K9 training under nationally and internationally recognized Law Enforcement K9 trainers. She served as the K9 Specialist member of the Los Angeles FBI Evidence Response Team (ERT) for ten years during which she received additional specialized training and field experience in the collection of forensic evidence to include clandestine grave/human remains recovery and post-blast crime scene processing. She completed hundreds of field missions with her K9s for the FBI and local law enforcement both professionally and as a volunteer. Her K9 deployments with the FBI ERT included supporting kidnap/homicide investigations throughout the Western United States, in high threat locations within Mexico, in the Middle East, and several disaster scene deployments to include the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks. Sonja also deployed four times to Europe with her K9 and successfully assisted in locating the remains of WWII MIA soldiers. During this time she also volunteered with a Search and Rescue K9 organization in California, certifying in K9 Live, Cadaver, and Water Search, becoming an evaluator, and ultimately a Veteran Handler.

Sonja earned her Detector Dog Trainer’s Certification from Vohne Liche Kennels in 2003, later developed a Cadaver Detector Dog course for LE K9 Handlers, and is currently a Utah POST Detector K9 Instructor and Judge for Narcotics, Explosives, and Cadaver K9s. She has provided hands-on SAR and Detection K9 training to 100’s of handlers to include SAR volunteers, Law Enforcement Handlers, Military K9 Handlers, and sport enthusiasts across the K9 detection disciplines of SAR/Human Remains Detection, Narcotics Detection, Explosives Detection, Gun Detection, and sport Nosework/Scentwork. Sonja has further honed and developed her precision training skills via successful participation in the challenging protection dog sports of Schutzhund/IPO, French Ring, and Mondio Ring.

Sonja currently deploys as a volunteer with her 5th HRD certified K9 while also serving as President, Lead Trainer, and a Handler for Great Basin K9 SAR. Sonja is a court expert with respect to Cadaver K9s in the state of Utah and a voting member on the ASB Dogs and Sensors Consensus Body.