August 13, 2008

The saga begins...

I started looking into the Malinois breed as my current dogs got older and I knew I’d be ready for a puppy. My Rottweiler, Hunter, was my oldest dog and I knew he would not do well with a young wild pup in the house. So I decided I would wait till he crossed the bridge before I got serious about finding a breeder. I didn’t want to find the right litter and fall in love and be tempted to bring in a pup before I was ready.

In November of 2007, Hunter had a stroke 2 days after his 14th birthday. He was not ready to go and fought it, but ultimately his body just couldn’t hold on. He was the first dog I owned on my own and I had picked him out of a litter at 8 weeks of age. Losing him was like ripping my heart out of my chest. He won’t be forgotten. Throwing myself fully into finding a Malinois breeder was healing for me.

This wasn’t the first time I had “prepared” myself for his passing. When he was 6, I knew of Rotties typically short life span so I was casually looking for another pup when we saw Coyote. But Coyote is now 8 (who knew Hunter would have such a long, wonderful life!) and Coyote has PRA and his vision issues are slowing him down. He has also had a very active life and being my first all positively trained dog, he has taught me LOADS and helped me perfect my skills as we learned new things. He also helped me learn how to deal with a wild young dog that needed LOTS of exercise both mental and physical. He still ramps up very easily, but has learned an off switch that lets him calm down just as fast.

Also in the house at the time of Hunter’s passing is Buster, King and Bear. Buster was my second dog and fate truly brought us together. He had debilitating fear issues due to absolutely no socialization for the first 8 months of his life. He has also taught me more than I’ll ever know about behavior modification and training. It is because of him that I attended a seminar about clicker training and opened that door to me. That was also where I met my first Dog Scout. Little did I know Dog Scouts would later take over my life!

Because Buster was supposed to be Mike’s dog, but due to his issues that didn’t work out, Mike was set on getting a beagle. No matter what I said, I couldn’t discourage him. So along came 8 week old Lil King. The two of them are inseparable and they think the world of each other.

In Nov of 2004, Mike was coming home and saw a small beagle running toward his truck on our road. Long story short, the little stray has worked his way into our hearts- even after all his marking on everything, daily fights with the other dogs and strong stubborn streak; he is now a wonderful companion. He has learned so much! He’s even the star of a kid’s book! “Dog Scouts of America” by Bearport publishing.

So, in my search to meet more Malinois I joined a few Yahoo talk lists and started conversing with people. I got a few recurring recommendations of breeders in CA and OR. I was really hoping to find a breeder that was within driving distance to avoid flying the young pup. I continued my search. On the internet, I found a breeder in Cincinnati, Ohio. I contacted her and met her at a Schutzhund training session to meet her male. He wasn’t quite what I was looking for, but a nice dog and the breeder was nice.

I posted about what I saw at the Schutzhund training on the Clicker Expo list and was contacted by Sarah who is interested in all positive bite work training. I have since developed a friendship with her and Chad and plan to stay in touch. Sarah told me about a breeder she knew who had some wonderful dogs. I met them at a Bernard Flinks training seminar in March of 2008 and really fell in love with his dogs. They had fantastic temperaments! I thought I had found my pair. The breeder did minimal health testing, something I was hoping would change with persuasion, but he did do a hip X-ray on the female. This did not come back as he had hoped, so I was once again on the search.

Another internet search turned up another breeder that was within driving distance and we started communicating by email. I set-up a face to face meeting in April of 2008 and I found the breeder to be nice and knowledgeable.

I had originally been interested in the breeding planned for the Spring of 2008. I met both of those dogs and was really impressed. I liked them a lot. Then I met the breeder’s other female. The first thing she did was jump in my lap and give me big wet kisses. Then she found a toy and offered it for some tug. In learning about this dog and her temperament, liking what I saw in person and hearing about the male, I thought I had found my pair.

Then another disappointment… The breeder sent an email saying plans to breed the female I liked were cancelled indefinitely- no reason given.

DRAT!! Looking again…

On 8-6-08 I emailed the breeder of the female’s parents. But I never heard back from them.

Emails on 8-10 and 8-11 from the breeder saying there was still a male from the original pair I had looked at (and really liked) convinced me to “take the plunge” and make the commitment. They had only recently been born and she gave me a date the pup would be ready to go home at 9 weeks old.

8-11-08 I put a deposit in the mail this evening. I’m waiting on the contract to sign, then hopefully I’ll get to meet the pups soon (as they get older and start to move around more.) The breeder has a password protected web page set-up, but needs my deposit and signed contract before I can see it.

The sire:
Has a FR1 title
Was whelped Oct. 28, 2005
27” tall and 75 pounds
AKC / LOSH / FCI registered, Dutch bred

OFA Hips- Good, Elbows-Normal PenHIP certified
CERF (eyes clear)
CHIC certified

French Ring Achievements:
May 07, French Ring Brevet, 95.5 points, 2nd place
Sept 07, French Ring 1 (1st leg), 197.3 points, 1st place
Oct 07, French Ring 1 (2nd leg), 196.1 points, 1st place

The sire's pedegree:

The Dam:

Has a FR3 title
Was whelped April 10, 2004
24” tall and 60 pounds
AKC Registered, American Bred
OFA Hip-Good, Elbows-Normal
PennHIP Certified
CERF (eyes clear)
CHIC certified
WCVM certified Good Hips/ Normal Elbows at 42 months

Her achievements in French Ring:

May 06, FR Brevet, 93.5 points, 1st place
June 06, FR 1 (1st leg), 182.4 points, 1st place
July 06, FR1 (2nd leg), 194.5 points, 1st place
Oct. 06, FR2 (1st leg), 257.7 points, 1st place
Nov. 06, FR2 (2nd leg), 271.2 points, High in Trial
May 07, FR3 (1st leg), 328.35 points, High in Trial
Sept. 07, FR3 (2nd leg), 378.675 points, High in Trial

Dam's Pedigree:

8-12-08 I sent emails to a few talk lists announcing the pup and when it would be due to go home. The very private breeder was upset that I posted her private info to the web (meaning when the pups were born and due to go home.)
Her sensitivity to her info being posted on the web has made me very "gun shy" about posting anything so that is why I haven’t mentioned her name, her kennel name or her dog’s names just to be on the safe side. If you know me and are interested in that info, I'm happy to share it privately.

8-20-08 I got the contract, signed it and sent it back today. Hopefully as soon as it is recieved, I'll get to see the puppy page and the litter's progress. They are almost 3 weeks old.

Note: Sarah and Chad in Columbus OH recently got a Mal pup from a breeder in CA, so I'm hoping our puppies will be able to get together to play and train often. They will be about 9 weeks in age difference. Chad and Sarah are going to start a tracking group and a positive training bite work group that I want to join with Dazzle. I'm going to go see them and their pup on the 27th. I really need a "puppy fix" right now. The waiting is driving me crazy!