Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In the Beginning there was 1 Mighty Dachshund

We lost him around Christmas. It was very sudden and quick. He was old and his kidneys gave out after he ate something outside during a walk. We were all crushed as this dachshund had a personality bigger than a house, was loyal and protective of his family and punched way above his weight with other dogs. We think he was convinced that he was a big dog trapped in a dachshund body as he was brave and fearless. He was also a sweet dog who nurtured his human brother since he was a toddler and was affectionate with his step-sibling doxies. It was the most depressing holiday season for the entire family.

Many say to get a puppy to help cope with grief after your dog dies. We had two surviving sibling dachshunds. They are not as mighty and charismatic however. We always knew that their big brother was the pack leader to them who led by example and took care of business when needed. With him gone the "pups" appeared lost and confused and spent most of their time sleeping and hiding. We do not know for sure if dogs grieve when one of them crosses the rainbow bridge but it sure appeared as if they did to us. Anyway things were just too quiet and boring. The house felt empty and dull without his presence and energy.

We had talked hypothetically about getting a bigger dog, maybe a German Shepherd or Boxer as we are both active and enjoy training and playing with our dogs. We also saw a cool dog actor on the ‘Person of Interest’ TV show and began learning about the Belgian Malinois breed. We were weary however of the fact that the dog can be intense and has high drive and energy levels.

As it happened we were given the opportunity to re-home a young Belgian Malinois in February. The story was that she was being trained for an LEO but was too skittish and afraid to do the job. We do not know for how long or what kind of training was given or what her early years were like.

We researched the breed, including the article from the first post, talked with trainers and tried to prepare to make a good decision. We knew it would not be easy. What we did not know was that we would have to "untrain" some things that were not best suited for civilians. Knowing what we know now, we can only think how much easier it may have been if we had her as a puppy.

One thing we knew was that you just cannot leave these dogs alone for long periods or keep them crated for long periods. They need socialization, training and jobs; and keeping them like this would just cause bad behaviors. Luckily one of us works from home, plus we reckoned the older dogs would be able to help her get acclimated in our household.

We got her and it has been a great experience for us and our new Belgian Malinois. It has not been a bed of roses and there will always be bumps and bruises (mostly from the dog running into us) in the road. She has progressed immensely over the course of six months, has learned and taught us a lot. So far this has been one of the most rewarding experiences in our lives. More to come.

Please comment below with your thoughts.  Thanks.

Are Belgian Malinois only for the 1%?

Belgian Malinois (also known as mals, maligators, hair missiles, etc.) are a special breed of dog: They need constant training, jobs and work. We are not recommending Malinois ownership, especially to the casual pet owner, which is 99% of all pet owners. For the casual dog owner, we suggest you read the following article on Malinois ownership before continuing in this blog. You can read and learn, but do not go buy one. 

This Belgian Malinois blog is intended to share our experiences and to help others in the 99% who already have Mals. Some of you may have gotten them as puppies, some are former LEO dogs (Law Enforcement Officer - (Police, Marines, etc.), or you got one from a rescue group or shelter.

Before we begin with our expereinces, we would like to share this short, general list of our observations why you should not get a Mal as a pet. It is not all-inclusive, or apply to all Mals, but like most stereotypes many of these are based in truths. You will find similar lists on respected Belgian Malinois sites.

  • They are energizer bunnies. They do not get tired
  • You have to commit to spend a lot of supervised time exercising and training them. 2-4 hours a day.
  • They get bored easily, when bored they get destructive
  • They must have jobs, see above bullet. They are working dogs, they need to be busy.
  • They go through toys like a hurricane. Budget a considerable amount of money for toys that will be destroyed shortly. It is better than having your furniture or anything else destroyed.
  • Consider investing in good strong leashes, a harness, and a muzzle (more on muzzles later,  they are actually for the Mal's protection). We will recommend some as well.
  • Be prepared for a very smart, easily motivated, and stubborn dog. Much like a Dachshund or German Shepherd, but on steroids.
  • They love to eat. And a lot. You will need to budget for good, quality dog food and treats at a minimum. You will want to give them some vegetables and meat occasionally to help them stay healthy.
Now that that is out of the way, we will begin at the beginning.

Please comment below with your thoughts.  Thanks.