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N Central Region:

Charlotte, female - MI
Desi - Adopted!!!
Diesel - Adopted!!!
Mesa, female - IL
* Rico, male - MN

S Central Region:

Diesel - Adopted!!!
Dottie - Adopted!!!
Jackie - Adopted!!!
* Jill, female - TX
* Loki, male - MO

Northeast Region:

* Asher, male - MD
* Blue, female - MA
Grimm, male - NY
* Harley, female - MA
* Kaley, female - VA
Lucy, female - PA
* Rebel, male - VT
Ziva - Adopted!!!

Southeast Region:

Andie- Adopted!!!
* Arko, male - GA
* Callie, female - SC
* Hutch, male - LA
Loki, male - LA
Lucas - Adopted!!!
Ofa - Adopted!!!
Phenix - Adopted!!!

Northwest Region:

More NW Info

Southwest Region:

Hank - Adopted!!!
Scarlet - Adopted!!!

Dogs available from
Alternate Listings: A-M
Updated: Oct 20th
Alternate Listings: N-Z
Updated: Dec 12nd

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Dina, the Rescue(r)


By Karen Brent


(Published in The Performer,
The Official Publication of the American Belgian Malinois Club October 1999.)

I can't start the story of Dina without first describing my other Malinois, Rhythm, who I got as a 7 1/2 week old puppy. He is full of energy, funny, good natured, and has an outgoing dogonality (that's canine for "personality"). He loves people and other dogs, and never met one he didn't want to play with, of either species. Now that he's an adult, and it's obvious what a wonderful example of correct Malinois temperament he exhibits, I tend to lose sight of how difficult he was to raise.

Besides me being an inexperienced Malinois handler, he was my first dog, let alone puppy. Combining that with the usual Belgian high drive and male pushiness, it wasn't long before he was totally out of control, despite all of the classes and private training sessions I undertook to help me train him properly. Matters weren't made better by the constant criticism from my family. Barbs like "that dog should be given to someone who knows what they're doing" and "Why don't you give him up and start fresh with an easier dog" didn't lend much support.

I knew he was difficult, and that I needed to be persistent with my training in order to achieve success. But when he started behaving in a threatening manner with pedestrians, bicyclists and other dogs, I contemplated rehoming him. Rowdy behavior in the home is one thing, but I just couldn't deal with a dog that I couldn't take out into public! But because I loved him, I decided to keep looking for help.

Just as matters had reached crisis proportions, I found the right trainer who helped me with my Tasmanian Devil - one who knew what to do with the Belgian drive and strong will. She didn't diagnose him as "aggressive" per se, just out of control and in need of focused training and social stimulation. She suggested that he might benefit from the presence of another dog to provide companionship and serve as an outlet for his energy. However, she warned that the introduction of another dog at that time might distract him and negatively impact my efforts to bring him under control. With all of the challenges I faced with just Rhythm, I had neither the energy nor the desire for another dog then anyway.

Having to leave him alone every morning became the bane of my existence. The thought of him bored and lonely plagued me throughout my work day, especially since stimulation and company was exactly what he needed to help mitigate some of the behavior problems. It was very frustrating to continue working on our challenges while depriving him of the companionship I knew he needed. All I could do was to continue to take him to obedience school, private training, and play groups for a minimum of socialization. Happily, we made steady progress with everything, including the pseudo-aggressiveness, thanks to the talents of my trainer.

To lessen the extent to which his isolation contributed to his behavior problems, I became obsessed with minimizing his time spent alone. I started declining social invitations and stopped pursuing travel, interests, and activities outside my home that he couldn't participate in. I rationalized that many people had commitments in their lives that prevented them from engaging in footloose and fancy-free pastimes. Look at all of the parents my age with far greater responsibilities than going on off-leash hikes and spending time with a dog!

I eventually noticed that I had become isolated too. Certainly he provided good companionship, but despite his great dogonality, he wasn't much of a conversationalist. I am an extrovert, by nature, and started feeling rather lonely myself, even melancholy; an extrovert needs people. And even though our relationship had improved and he became much easier to handle, I knew he was still lonely. I guess you could say we were both suffering from the same malady!

Recalling my instructor's first recommendation, the time looked right to consider getting the second dog. I had always planned on having two dogs anyway, but just having raised one demanding puppy, and nearly failing to live to tell about it, I wanted an adult this time - a female on the lower end of the energy scale, to water down the overall "drive" in my pack.

So I contacted the American Belgian Malinois Club Rescue group.

I had mixed feelings about getting a rescue dog. On the "pro" side, I was very keen on the idea of nobly providing a loving home for some unfortunate beast to whom fate had dealt a less-than-optimal hand. On the "con" side, some rescue dogs have issues to overcome which might require work of a completely different nature than what I had done with Rhythm. Some don't get along with other dogs, and countless Malinois are put into Rescue simply because their energy and drive is too intense for some owners (just what I needed!).

One dog became available early in my search. When I first heard of her, Dina hadn't been placed in Rescue yet, officially. At 3 years old, she already had been in 4 homes. She started life as a police dog trainee, but failed in that profession. Then she tried the bite work sports, but she supposedly didn't have what it took. It is rumored that either her first or second owner tried to beat "what it takes" into her, to motivate her into becoming a high-drive working Malinois. Having failed again, Dina was lucky enough to be placed with a nice family that demanded no more of her than good manners. But when they relocated and couldn't take her with them, she was left with a relative.

Her former owners started contacting Rescue because she was fighting with the relative's Rottweiler. That dog was no angel - it is suggested that she has even started biting people, so she might get kicked out of the house some day, herself. But because the Rottweiler was the first dog and Dina was the interloper, it was Dina that had to go. The Rescue people urged me to consider her despite some talk of her being rather shy.

With a history of being abused, rejected as inadequate, and dumped like a bag of rag-tag clothes at the Salvation Army, and talk of her being shy and possibly incompatible with other dogs, I dismissed her as not appropriate for my pack, sight unseen. I continued to work with Rescue, posted messages on Internet bulletin boards, followed up leads about possible rehomes, and even contacted breeders looking to retire brood bitches. With unbelievably rotten luck, I missed out on one opportunity after another - a day late and a dollar short, whether it was rescues, rehomes or retail dogs!

Two months after I had declined Dina, she went into the Rescue program, officially. Under the tender loving care of the foster Mom, she learned how to play with the other nice Malinois, and exhibited a very nice dogonality. As an experienced Malinois handler, her well-informed assessment convinced me to consider Dina.

Rhythm and I set out on a long road trip to have a look see. I didn't tell him that we might be coming home with his new pack member, since the decision to take her totally depended on how well they got along. Given her reputation for shyness and her dubious past, I didn't want to raise his hopes. Of course I'm being anthropomorphic here - it is myself that I was trying to save from disappointment, so I went with very low expectations.

When I first met Dina by myself, I was immediately impressed with how she came right up to me. She was so affectionate, asking for hugs and petting, and nestled into my arms like she had known me forever. Possibly too shy? I don't think so! But no matter how much I liked her, the real test was what the guy waiting back in the car would think. And what she'd think of him, of course!

Photo of Dina a Rescued Malinois - 18.5KB

Rhythm approached Dina with the usual overbearing pouncy-ness he normally exhibits with girl dogs. I was nervous, because despite his social nature, he can be formidable, and I wasn't sure how he'd react to a shy dog. Considering her history, I expected Dina to shrink back, or snap to indicate "no dice, buddy, keep your paws to yourself!" But to my surprise and delight, they started playing like long-lost pals! They chased each other and wrestled until I thought they were going to drop! Possibly incompatible with dogs? I don't think so!

Between her eagerness to bond with me, and how well she got along with Rhythm, there's no way I could have passed Dina up. What good luck, that she was still available after all my other prospects had dried up! Being fortunate enough to get Dina in spite of having initially dismissed her, I guess it was just "meant to be"!

Since I'm more familiar with the independent demeanor of a rough-and-tumble boy dog, I wasn't accustomed to living with such a sweet little love bug! In the intelligence department, she responds to subtle commands and verbal corrections quickly and appropriately. In matters of protection, she's the first one to bark when someone steps onto our property, and takes her job more seriously, but will relax into wary congeniality when I give the OK. She's very comfortable with other dogs, and is slowly becoming more outgoing with people.

Photo of Dina a Rescued Malinois - 20KB

A vestige of the long-ago inhumane treatment she suffered is revealed when she cowers if a stick-like object is raised above her head. And she's absolutely petrified in the training ring, possibly because it's the kind of environment in which the cruelty initially took place. I am incredulous that none of her previous owners recognized what a gem she is, with a calm temperament, impeccable household manners, quick intelligence, natural protectiveness and eager compliance. Their loss is my gain, of course, but what a stellar Malinois she would be if you could add "confident" to her list of qualities! Maybe she will be confident, someday, if I can apply the patience and persistence I developed with Rhythm to training her.

Her value to our pack can be summed up by the judgments of my harshest critics, "Rhythm is a different dog" because Dina provides an outlet for his energy. He thanks me every day for getting her for him with his polite manners and tranquil conduct. Secure in the knowledge that he is no longer lonely, I now feel free to socialize more. In so many ways, Dina's presence has greatly improved my quality of life.

When you contemplate getting a Rescue dog, you might start out under the impression that it is you who are the rescuer, nobly providing a loving home for some unfortunate beast to whom fate has dealt a less-than-optimal hand. While that is most likely true to a great extent, it might not be the entire story. What you might not imagine is that the beast could end up rescuing YOU right back!

Photo of Dina a Rescued Malinois - 22KB

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