Category Archives: Belgian Malinois

CANIDAE Helps Take a Bite Out of Crime

By Julia Williams

The handsome Belgian Malinois pictured here is Baco, a hard-working K9 who helps fight crime in the Southern California city of Pomona. CANIDAE graciously donated Baco to the Pomona Police Department a year ago, to replace a patrol dog who died from cancer. Officer Theo Joseph is Baco’s human partner on the force (also called a handler), and Baco is his third police dog.

I spoke with Officer Joseph recently to get an update on how Baco has been doing this past year. As it turns out, Baco just recently caught his first bad guy. This “K9 rite of passage” is an important test, as it tells the handler much about the dog, what he has learned, and how he’s likely to perform in the future. According to Officer Joseph, Baco handled his first apprehension of a bad guy (two of them, actually) really well, and shows great promise as a police dog.

With his first bite behind him, Baco can now attend a six-week training for narcotic detection. This cross-training is valuable because it will make Baco an even more useful member of the force. If Baco’s sensitive canine nose detects drugs in a vehicle, Officer Joseph has probable cause to search without needing to obtain a warrant.

Although Baco knows many English words, he has been trained to respond only to commands in Dutch. This can be useful to the officer, since it prevents criminals from knowing what commands are being given. In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to mistakenly think that a command to apprehend is the dog’s name. Whereupon, instead of calming the menacing dog in front of them by calling his name, the criminal is actually saying “grab me, grab me.” Don’t tell the bad guy this, but no matter what he says it won’t cause the dog to retreat or attack, because K9s are taught to respond only to their handler.

Dog officers develop extremely close bonds with their K9 partners, largely because they are with them 24/7. Their dogs go to work with them every day and spend evenings and weekends at their home. “I spend more time with Baco than I do with my family,” joked Officer Joseph.

On those rare occasions when he works a shift without Baco, Officer Joseph said it feels strange. It’s not just the companionship of a dog that he misses, however. Baco’s mere presence can prevent physical confrontations with criminals and diffuse potentially deadly situations. Officer Joseph described an incident where a stand-off occurred between a suspect and police. The man was willing to fight eight officers, but when he heard the bark of just one police dog, he surrendered immediately. This is a perfect illustration of how tremendously valuable K9s are to law enforcement.

Baco eats premium-quality CANIDAE dog food, of course, alternating between the All Life Stages and Chicken & Rice formulas. Officer Joseph believes that the CANIDAE food helps Baco be a better police dog because it gives him the high level of energy he needs, doesn’t cause digestion issues, and satisfies his ravenous appetite.

Although Baco takes his police work seriously, Officer Joseph said he’s also a laidback, low-key canine. This is in stark contrast to the officer’s last K9 partner, another Belgian Malinois named Zorro described as a “Type A” personality. Zorro is retired from the force and lives at home with the family along with Baco and a third dog, a Husky. When he’s not fighting crime, Baco enjoys playing tug-of-war and keep-away with his favorite toy, a plastic bone. He likes country music, and snores while sleeping.

Talking with Officer Joseph brought back fond memories of my college days as a Journalism student. I was assigned to the “police beat” and went on many Citizen Ride-Alongs, including two with K9 units. All of my rides were interesting and educational, but the K9s provided the most fodder for A+ tales. Officer Kaiser and his German Shepherd Samson, were quite the pair. I’d been forewarned by other officers that “the dog stinks to high heaven,” and “Kaiser is the only guy on the force with a dog smarter than he is.” I’ll not divulge whether they were right, but my four-hour ride with this duo was definitely unforgettable.

Samson spent the entire time breathing down my neck from the back seat of the patrol car. When a call came over the radio about a fight at a liquor store, Officer Kaiser spun the car around and accelerated (largely to impress me, I’m sure), and Samson went wild, barking and pacing like mad. The “fight” turned out to be a mild scrap between three macho dudes and a hippie with a dead squirrel in the basket of his moped. (I swear I’m not making that up!). While Officer Kaiser spoke to the men, Samson leaned out the window and kept a keen eye on them. Later, we headed to Samson’s favorite “potty spot.” When Officer Kaiser told Samson to “Take a break!” he flew out the car window, did his business and jumped back in.

Although my memorable Citizen Ride-Alongs occurred many years ago, Officer Joseph said most cities still do them today, but that he and Baco have only done two of them in their first year together. I’m quite certain they weren’t nearly as entertaining as my rides with Officer Kaiser and Samson. Nevertheless, Baco is an exemplary K9, and CANIDAE is proud to sponsor him.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Hard Working Dogs That Protect and Serve

By Julia Williams

The relationship between dogs and humans goes back thousands of years. Long before they became “man’s best friend,” dogs had other important jobs. Canines have been enlisted in the military for ages, serving as sentry and patrol dogs, to detect mines, bombs, booby traps, enemy troops and more. Because a canine’s keen senses of smell and hearing are far superior to human soldiers, many a wartime battle would’ve had a tragically different outcome without dogs.

Working dogs are tremendously useful to law enforcement and homeland security, and ranchers rely on them to help with herding sheep and guarding livestock. Assistance dogs provide life changing support to the disabled, and therapy dogs help the sick and elderly find joy in an otherwise challenging existence. As you can see, the list of “canine careers” is long and varied. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Police Dogs – K9 Units

Police officers rely on their K9 partner to help them chase, subdue and apprehend criminals, to provide support during building searches, patrols and crowd control, and to detect illegal substances like drugs and weapons. There’s no question these dedicated and hard working dogs help keep their partners/handlers safe in a highly dangerous job. Their very presence can also prevent crime and diffuse a volatile situation, because delinquents often rethink their actions when confronted by a formidable canine with sharp teeth and powerful jaws.

Many different breeds are used as police dogs, but the German Shepherd is the most popular. This breed is in the herding class of working dogs, and is valued by law enforcement for their size, strength, intelligence and work ethic. The second most popular police dog is the Belgian Malinois (pronounced mal-in-waw), often referred to as a smaller, sleeker version of a German Shepherd. Belgian Malinois are hard working dogs with a high level of endurance, noted for their speed, intelligence and agility.

Last year, CANIDAE donated a Belgian Malinois named Baco to the Pomona, California Police Department’s Canine Unit. According to his partner/handler, Officer Theo Joseph, Baco is progressing well in his training and has proven to be a fine police dog. You can read more about Baco and other hard working CANIDAE sponsored dogs on the “Special Achievers” section of their website.

Bomb Dogs and Drug Dogs

Detection dogs are a vital part of our country’s security forces. AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson said, “Despite advances in security technology, the canine and its unique abilities remain a valued resource for the military and law enforcement agencies that work to keep us safe.”

Bomb dogs can quickly locate explosives in a large area that might take humans hours to search. These explosive-sniffing dogs are trained to detect up to 30 different odors that might comprise a bomb, which translates into as many as 19,000 combinations. Detection dogs can also provide peace of mind by quickly confirming that large venues (convention centers, stadiums, concert halls, government buildings, etc.) are free of explosives. Detection dogs are also trained to sniff out illegal drugs, weapons, agricultural products and fire-starting accelerants, either carried on a person or in luggage, packages, vehicles and buildings. Detection dogs must learn to perform reliably in any environment, despite distractions such as loud noises, crowds, and gunfire.

A trained detection dog’s sense of smell is not only highly sensitive, but very exact. In lab tests, bomb sniffing dogs were able to detect odor concentrations as minute as one part per billion. Much to the dismay of smugglers, detection dogs are also remarkably adept at picking out contraband even when it’s placed inside smelly things or in creatively sealed packages.

Some of the dog breeds used for detection work include Beagle, Bloodhound, German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Rottweiler, Bouvier, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever and Giant Schnauzer.

Military Working Dogs (MWDs)

The U.S. military has employed working dogs since the Revolutionary War, where they were used as pack animals. During World War I, MWDs were used to kill rats in the trenches. For World War II, our military deployed more than 10,000 specially trained canine troops as sentries, scouts, messengers and mine detectors. Today’s military working dogs perform many jobs, among them locating and tracking enemy troops, detecting mines, bombs and booby traps, and defending military bases and field locations. The majority are German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois, breeds valued for their aggressive, intelligent, loyal and athletic traits.

After their training (canine bootcamp?), all military working dogs are paired with a single individual, called a handler. The handler usually does not remain with one dog for the length of either’s military service, but generally partners with them for at least a year, and sometimes longer.

Other hard working dogs that “protect and serve” include Search & Rescue Dogs, Cadaver Dogs, Therapy Dogs and Service Dogs. There are far too many to discuss in one sitting. However, I do think these dedicated working dogs provide an invaluable service and deserve recognition, so I will talk more about these canine careers in my next post.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

For 9/11: A Special Tribute to Search and Rescue Dogs

By Julia Williams

September 11, 2001 will always be remembered as the day two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center. When the Twin Towers collapsed, they created a mountainous heap of smoldering rubble that burned for months. Countless firefighters and rescue workers risked their lives to search for survivors in the Ground Zero wreckage. Among them were an estimated 250 to 300 K-9 search and rescue dogs and their handlers.

I thought it fitting that on this fateful day, we take a moment to pay tribute to the heroic efforts of these amazing canines that have helped humankind for so many years. Beyond the 9/11 disaster, search and rescue (SAR) dogs have come to our aid during hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other calamities. Although most of the handlers maintain that their search and rescue dogs are just doing the job they were trained to do, many people – dog lovers and the general public alike – regard them as extraordinary.

Disaster response dogs are called upon to work under the most extreme conditions, in highly dangerous and often toxic environments. Most of the K-9 teams at the World Trade Center disaster site rotated on 12 hour work shifts. The SAR dogs bravely dug in the fiery rubble at Ground Zero despite getting their feet singed by white-hot debris. They courageously nosed through the noxious smoke and dust despite its potential to harm their lungs. Who among us mere mortals could withstand such an ordeal? Not I, which is why I consider these dogs to be heroes of the highest order.

Many different dog breeds are used in search and rescue operations, but they typically come from the herding, hunting or working breeds. Some of the more common SAR dogs are German Shepherds, Bloodhounds, Golden Retrievers, Border Collies and the Belgian Malinois. More important than the specific breed, however, is the dog’s disposition. Each search and rescue dog has its own unique set of skills and endurance abilities, but all are hard-working and focused on the task at hand.

I recently came across a wonderful book on this subject, titled DOG HEROES of September 11th:A Tribute to America’s Search and Rescue Dogs. Written by Nona Kilgore Bauer and the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, this oversized pictorial book is a riveting account of search and rescue work, and the dogs that play such a vital part in it. Profiles of various SAR teams show them hard at work at Ground Zero and the Pentagon, accompanied by descriptions of what they are doing. This is a very moving book, and a must-read for all dog lovers.

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 and based in Ojai, California. According to their website, their mission is to “strengthen disaster response in America by recruiting rescued dogs and partnering them with firefighters and other first responders to find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters.” There are currently 69 SDF-trained search teams located in California, Florida, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah. SDF offers the professionally trained canines at no cost to fire departments, and they ensure lifetime care for every dog in their program. If you would like to support on-going search canine efforts, contact the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation at 888-4-K9-HERO.

In memory of 9/11, please join me as I pay homage to all the remarkable search and rescue dogs that help us when disaster strikes. These dogs provide an invaluable service that saves lives, and they deserve our utmost respect.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Breed Profile: Belgian Malinois

By Ruthie Bently

This handsome dog is the newest member of the Pomona, California Police Department Canine unit. His name is Baco, and he was officially donated by CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods in March of this year, after the unexpected death of their previous dog Buddy. Baco is a three and a half year old Belgian Malinois.

The Belgian Malinois was first developed in the city of Malines, which is where it gets it name, and is one of four of the Belgian herding dogs. They are registered in France and Belgium as the Chien de Berger Belge. The Belgian Malinois is a member of the AKC Working group, which also includes the Belgian Sheepdog and the Belgian Tervuren. The three dogs share their foundations in common, though interestingly enough in its native Belgium of the three dogs, the Malinois is the favorite type of Belgian Shepherd. The Malinois’ original breeders prized it for its working character. Another interesting fact is that the United States is the only country in the world that the three breeds are judged by separate standards. In the rest of the world the judging standards for the three breeds are the same.

The Belgian Malinois was originally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1959 as a member of the working group, and it was principally used for the herding of sheep. Males usually run from 24 to 26 inches at the withers, with the females being a bit shorter at 22 to 24 inches. The Malinois is sometimes mistaken for the German Shepherd, but the Malinois is lighter-boned and “more elegant in build” according to the AKC. This does not mean, however, that they are lacking in abilities for herding, agility or strength. Many Malinois’ and their owners participate in tracking, sledding, obedience, confirmation and Schutzhund.

The temperament for the Belgian Malinois according to the American Kennel Club states: “Correct temperament is essential to the working character of the Belgian Malinois. The breed is confident, exhibiting neither shyness nor aggressiveness in new situations. The dog may be reserved with strangers but is affectionate with his own people. He is naturally protective of his owner’s person and property without being overly aggressive. The Belgian Malinois possesses a strong desire to work and is quick and responsive to commands from his owner.”

Before its acceptance into the AKC in 1959, the Belgian Malinois was in the Miscellaneous class, though it was registered in the AKC Stud Book. The reason for this was that there were not enough dogs to compete for championships. The first Belgian Shepherds registered with the AKC were “Belgian Blackie” and “Belgian Mouche” and were registered in 1911 and up until World War II the Malinois saw an increase in popularity in the United States.

The Belgian Malinois is a dog that needs a strong owner who knows they are the alpha dog. The Malinois is happiest when working, and needs to have an active schedule. So if you want to share your life with an intelligent, very trainable, active dog, the Belgian Malinois may be just the dog for you.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.