Thursday, September 9, 2010

Two malinois walk into a bar . . .

No, seriously.

Mals are not exactly common around here. It's a rare day when John Q. Public recognizes Phoenix as a malinois ("Sure is a purty German shepherd you got there, we used to have one just like him."), let alone finding two malinois in the same county.

So imagine my surprise when I came out of the convenience store after paying for my gas in Iowa City last night to find the Johnson County K9 unit vehicle parked at the opposite pump and the deputy checking out Phoenix, who was checking him out right back through the rolled down window from his crate.

We had a bit of a malinois mutual admiration society going on for a few minutes and I got to meet Ivan, who does drug detection, tracking and handler protection. He was smaller than Phoenix! He was a pocket mal! He was a Czech import and definitely had a different look than my American bred boy.

They were both born in 2006 and Ivan joined his handler when he was 1 year old. Wow. Phoenix was still a totally insane baby dog at age 1 and Ivan was out saving the world from bad guys already.

We had a nice chat and it was a very refreshing change not to have to explain that my dog is a malinois . . . mal-n-wah . . . MAL-N-WAH . . .  not a German shepherd and no he really doesn't look anything like a German shepherd and no they're not "bred down" from German shepherds and what part of BELGIAN not GERMAN don't you understand!



Then we picked up Kate and her two girls and went to the match in the Quad Cities. I tried a few new things with Phoenix and his stays and I promise I will put together a post about it soon but today I have the "To Do" list from hell to tackle before leaving for the shows tomorrow.


  1. When friends or family members come by to see me at an agility trial they frequently comment on "german shepherds" which are various Belgian breeds. I'm sure it is very annoying. Lots of people (out in public) ask is Legend is an aussie or aussie mix, just because she's a red merle. And some people ask what Lyric is??? I thought poms were pretty commonly recognized but I guess not.

  2. I have the same problem with Layla - 95% of people think she's a Husky. A few people think she's an Akita, and we've had a few "Look at that pretty German Shepherd!" comments, too. The husky I can see - most people don't realize how small they really are until they see them next to a Mal.

    I couldn't believe how many people pronounce Malinois as "Mallomars" until I talked to my show handling instructor and someone else who has one at the building. The same thing with Weimaraners. And even at our own National Specialty, the Auctioneer kept pronouncing them "Malmaloots". Maybe we should start pronouncing them Goooldeeeen Retroyvairs.

  3. I've finally settled on telling people that Taz is a "Belgian Shepherd." Belgian Tervuren is inevitably met with "Belgian what?" Shepherd is just easier.

  4. Heck, half the dog world still doesn't even know what a "Russell Terrier" is. Even people that I have repetitively explained the difference to continue to call them Parsons. I've had trial secretaries change the breed on entries. Tried to enter an obedience trial online, but the drop down menu didn't have "Russell Terrier" so I couldn't (and this was at least 2 years after their acceptance into AKC Companion events). With John Q Public, it's just easier to call them JRT's and forget about it.

  5. How small was the K-9? There was just a discussion on Belg-L of small Belgians doing bite-work. At 15 months Dottie is just under 23 pounds (that isn't too small...) and (gasp!) 40 pounds! I was just thinking that she is too small to be a police dog- not that that was ever an option. But if a police force had bought her as a puppy- they might have been disappointed!

    It is always cool to see other Mals, but even here in Southern CA I don't see any except at dog shows.