Friday, December 7, 2007

Malinois Keepers

The Malinois is one of four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd Dog. "Malinois" is pronounced "Mel - in - Waa".

I wanted a Malinois for years and after closely following Vanrusselhof Kennels progress for some time I visited Amanda Russell and her dogs in Queensland, Australia.

My agenda was for a “working” Mal … I guess you have the same comparison in the Border Collie breed – there are “show” border collies and “working” border collies and both are quite different.

‘Fate’ delivered me Chilli … yes she managed to get under my skin in just a few days. Chilli (Ch Vanrusselhof On Fire) is what they call a “show-line” Malinois. The working Mal was put on the back-burner for a while (but definitely not forgotten!) and Chilli began to educate us about the breed in her own way.

Chilli is … what can I say? ... I absolutely adore her. She is an awesome dog … outgoing, protective, intelligent, very affectionate and a great mate. Her appearance is quite stunning yet very pretty, and conformation-wise (slipping into “show mode” here) she has lovely free, balanced movement. I couldn’t have asked for a better dog to start me off with (and get me addicted to) the Belgian Shepherd Malinois.

At the tender age of 14 months she finished her Australian Champion Title at the Perth Royal Show 2007.

So then it was time for some real dog stuff (agility and obedience training). Although reserved in her learning, Chilli does a lot of watching and what seems to be “perfecting” things in her mind before she applies it. It’s quite interesting really … she seems to think about things for some time before she actually commits to giving it a go, hence she prefers luring rather than wasting all her energy on free-shaping and guessing what I might want.

Somehow, she manages to come up with the right answers most of the time. Initially I found this quite frustrating because she would give me an answer (behavior) but it was quite long-winded and very slow … but I soon found that the more I rewarded the right answer she would then add speed to it.

Interesting and quite different to other dogs that I’ve trained … it’s all part of the game I guess!

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