Archive for belgian malinois

Grom and Molniya Got Wet

Posted in Dog diary, pets with tags , on August 30, 2013 by rattlerjen

All Feet!

Many of you long time readers may remember my posts about trying to get my dog to like swimming.  Read a post about it, here:

We tried everything.  We threw his favorite toys in the water. We threw other dog’s favorite toys in the water and he watched those dogs swim for them.  We threw Grom’s favorite toys in the water and let other dogs swim for them.  I got in the water and teased him with his favorite toys.  I got in the water, put a life vest on the dog, and helped him “swim,” through the water. We did everything short of just throwing him in to the water.  No matter what, he would only get to the point where his feet stopped touching the bottom. Then, he stopped going any further.

He never really liked to swim.

Until now.

All it took was his best friend in the whole world, a lab named Seamus, to go swimming.  There must have been a doggie conversation between the two, because after Seamus went out, so did my dog!

But that is not all!

Did you catch the little dog in the lifejacket?  That’s right, it is little Mo! She loves to swim!  Of course she really enjoyed biting the waves and digging in the sand too.

What a great day on the water.  Woo Hoo!

Molniya Gets a uniform

Posted in life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , on December 4, 2012 by rattlerjen

We received Molniya’s vest in the mail today.  It fits her perfectly.  Nothing looks better on a black dog.  At least her “brother,” Grom, thinks so.


She is fitting in so well.  The best part is she loves to bark!

What sort of dog owner wants their dog to bark?  These people must be crazy!  We are teaching her to bark on command for her favorite toy.  Barking is what she will use to tell us she has found a missing person.  She will then get her toy reward for a job well done.

She fits in so well around here.  Molniya loves playing with her big brother, Grom. She also loves chasing balls in the backyard.  She loves bubbles most of all;  she will do anything for them!

Someone does need to tell her to stop trying to eat the stink bugs. EW!

Meet Molniya

Posted in pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , on November 27, 2012 by rattlerjen

A name that means lightning

I think it’s a pretty good fit.

Meet the newest member of our pack. Mini-G or Molniya is a Belgian Malinois that was given up by its owners because she was destroying the house.  That’s a malinois for you. She needed a job.  She also got a big brother in the bargain.

Molniya (pronounced Mol – nee- ya) brings joy to everything she does.

Her favorite thing is to try and lick you to death while furiously wagging her tail in a big circle. She was given up to a wonderful rescue organization called Bully Paws as a puppy because she was just too much for a family with a toddler.

What a goofy puppy

She was soon adopted out to a family that just did not know what they were getting in to! Belgian Mals certainly are not the sort of dog that likes to go for a simple 30 minute walk, a few minutes of ball play, and will sit on the dog bed for the rest of the day.  She will go non-stop for hours!  When she is bored she will reign destruction on anything within reach.

I wonder what I should destroy next?

She was given back to the rescue organization and lived with half a dozen adorable pit bulls in her foster home.  Her foster “Mom” and pitt buddies were beginning to have enough of her shenanigans. The little minx was playing with the bullies to exhaustion and bugging everyone long after they were done playing for the day.

Her foster parents even had to put her crate in a quiet room and put a towel under the door so that she would get some sleep!

ball ball ball ball!

Until she grows out of her puppy brain, She gets lots of kongs and other nice toys in her crate while we are gone. No eating shoes like Grom did little girl!

Here she is getting evaluated as a search dog, playing with Todd.

She is the perfect candidate for a working Search and Rescue dog.  She loves everyone including children, strangers, dogs, and even other animals.  Most of all, she loves playing tug!

I think aaron has taken to her

We are truly lucky to have been introduced to this wonderful girl.  Look for further postings on her progress in search training along with her big brother. Grom.


Fava Beans and Helicopters

Posted in dog, pets with tags , on June 14, 2012 by rattlerjen

Why does my dog look like Hannibal Lecter?

He will be training to ride in a helicopter in a few weeks!

For safety he will need to wear a muzzle and ear protection.  We are thinking about getting the little guy some Doggles to boot!


One thing I did notice was how difficult it was to find a proper fitting muzzle that still allowed him to breathe. We decided that a cage muzzle was the way to go, but none of the sizes fit.  They were either too big and he could easily push them off his narrow head, or too short in the muzzle squishing his wet little nose at the end.  The solution was to search for suppliers of military dogs.  For only a few dollars more, we had a muzzle custom made to fit Grom’s Belgian Malinois face at For Dog Trainers.

Training to wear the muzzle was easy.  Treats treats treats! That muzzle has been smeared with peanut butter and all kinds of delicious stuff on the inside. Grom barely noticed I had adjusted the muzzle to fit on his head as he licked happily at the inside of the muzzle cage.  After doing this several days in a row, he put his own head in the muzzle tail wagging.  I of course had a spoon filled with Peanut Butter waiting in the kitchen waiting for the cooperative little mutt. I smeared the cage with the stuff while he was wearing the thing and Wham-O, he was a fan.

Ear Protection

There are a few options for ear protection.  A few individuals on our team chose to order Mutt Muffs.  I, on the other hand, visited a horse riding store and bought those squishy form fitting foam thingies you shove in your ear.

Equifit ear protection

Equifit. It’s for horses, but with scissors. It’s for Dogs

I simply cut them down to size and inserted them in my pup’s ear.  They stayed in even when he shook his head. After a few minutes, he stopped noticing them.  I of course gave him lots of treats every time I put them in his ears.  Now I get a tail wag every time I take the foam triangle wedges out.

For the win!

Now, All I have to do is get him to wear eye protection.  Then, take him on a field trip!

Where will we go?

It is not the air field, but the train tracks.  We have a nice little town with a train running through it about 15 minutes away. On the other side of a fence and secured well on a leash we can practice getting used to the loud sound and wind produced by the train wearing all of our fancy new gear.  It may not be a helicopter, but close enough.

Man, I sure love treats.  They are magic.



OW! The Trucks

Posted in life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags on November 22, 2011 by rattlerjen

Or it could be an elephant

or possibly a baseball bat.

Yesterday, I woke up to the feeling that a truck ran over me.  Funny how I am sick on the Monday after a nice training day out in the woods.  I felt fine while climbing trees and tugging with a strong labrador from my precarious perch. I felt absolutely stellar while resting my head on my pack, then dragged around the leaves by a strong German Shepherd on the other end of a tug.  I even felt wonderful after walking and running around in the woods with my pack on, playing with numerous other search and rescue dogs.  Some of them puppies, some of them teenagers getting ready to start their testing.  I even felt fine after doing a 40 acre sector with Grom and six other search team applicants and members learning the ropes.

Monday, I slept all day with a puppy on my chest.  A very loud puppy who snores with his legs in the air.  A very wiggly puppy who runs and wiggles with his legs in the air and his head firmly wedged in my armpit.  A good cuddly little puppy during the day.  A very bad, loud, and rambunctious puppy who barked and sped around the house all evening because he did not get worked.

Working dogs.  The good, the bad, the LOUD!

Needless to say, consciousness has been a challenge since monday as I have caught one nasty bug.  Let’s hope the puppy behaves, tonight.  Right Grom?

Going for a Boat Ride

Posted in dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , on August 23, 2011 by rattlerjen

It’s wet and wild!

There are people in the water.

They have my toys!

Grom is learning for the first time that humans can indeed hide in the water.  I am very lucky to have a dog that really likes riding in a boat. He still is not too thrilled with swimming.  Go figure.

First the dog is introduced to just seeing people in the water.  The best part is he gets to play with those he finds.  The reward must always come from the water, so the swimmer has Grom’s favorite mangled tug.

Grom thought that people in the water are lots of fun.  So, the swimmer started asking the dog for a bark before he was allowed to get his toy.  No problem there.  What a loudmouth!

Finally the swimmer hid underwater and moved to opposite sides of the boat.

We ended with putting the dog in a down so he had no idea what direction the swimmer was moving.  The swimmer held his breath under the water. I gave Grom the search command, “mission!”

Let the sniffing begin.

K9 Rocky Says

Do I smell something on shore over there?

Search dog rocky on boat

K9 Echo cruises off shore

Sniff Sniff Sniff

Hey!  I think there is someone down there.  Check this out.

echo search dog sniff off boat

Woof! Woof! Woof!

What are you doing down there?

echo rescue dog bark matt boat

Toy! Toy! Toy! Toy!

echo the search dog tugs with matt off  boat

What do you mean I was supposed to stay in the boat?


You look like you needed help cooling off.

Echo the dog shakes water on his handler

Obedience and Agility Test

Posted in dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Rescue Training, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , on June 21, 2011 by rattlerjen

Last Saturday Grom the search and rescue dog completed his Agility and Obedience Test at the Urban Disaster Dog Search and Rescue training facility in Maryland known as Search Assist.  This is where they train those awesome disaster dogs you see on TV.

This is the very first time he has been on a big boy teeter totter.  This thing was huge!

It appears it did not phase the boy much.  All of that climbing and trouble making around the house finally paid off!

One of the more difficult elements in the Obedience is the emergency down or platz. Grom must hit the deck when we tell him, a very useful command to learn, especially if he is about ready to cross a road with a car coming or some other danger.  I was strolling along waiting for the dog to wander far enough away from me.  Grom was quite impressed with all of the fun training rubble piles and buses he saw.


And Yes, he passed both tests.

Berry Farm Search Training Plethora

Posted in dog, dog training, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , on May 31, 2011 by rattlerjen

Water Training, Human Remains Detection, and Wilderness Training

We got it all done today.

The Westmoreland Berry Farm is a wonderful place we use for training.  Behind all of the delicious strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peach trees, and goats a full search and rescue team with their dogs are out playing.

The Berry Farm is one of the few places we are able to use our boat for water training.

Here Leah is standing at the bow of the boat getting ready to search the water and its banks.

Search dog on boat

That is one nice smile on that dog’s face.

Even our beginning dogs get to join in the fun.

Our biggest puppy goes on a nice cruise.

So, Jonah, how do you feel about riding on a boat?

You don’t say.

(Must have eaten a bug)

Yes folks.  Our search team president works hard at training.

So very hard.

It was a scorcher of a day out there.  Hot temperatures and very little wind made working conditions difficult for the dogs out there.

This field would have been exhausting for the pups.  Air and thus scent becomes trapped in the tall grass.  A dog will leap above the stalks in attempts to catch a whiff of something above the field.

Rocky the border collie is going to get tuckered out with all that bounding!

search dog in field

Let’s work on something a bit easier in the heat.

How about doing some human remain’s detection?

Oh! Here is something up in this tree.

search dog up tree

Boy, mom sure finds some hard places to hide things.

After all of that hard work, the dogs deserved some splashing around.  Even Grom doggie paddled in the water for a bit.  It took me in my sexiest outfit to get him in there, but he finally took the plunge.

There he is with all four paws off the ground.

My little guy finally learned to swim!

search dog swims

Open Field Test with Aaron and Grom

Posted in dog, Dog diary, dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by rattlerjen
-Aaron P.

Grom has begun his testing, and his first obstacle is a big open field.

The test criteria is pretty easy for this one. He has to work for an hour minimum, has to listen to the handler, and he has to find the subject by air scenting.  The biggest obstacle for most dogs at this point is getting them to stay focused for at least an hour. The test for the me is a little more involved, but not much. We have to pretend that it’s a real search where we receive a briefing from the responsible authority (the evaluator in this case.) We have to look at the map and create our search strategy taking things like weather, wind, terrain, and the subject’s behavior and condition into consideration.

Since we’re pretending this is an actual search, I have to look at my evaluator/escort and say fun things like “Base this is Team Grom.” He gets to say fun things like “Team Grom, this is base, go ahead”. This is followed by looking him strait in the eye and saying, ” Base this is a radio check” even though he’s not base, and there is no radio.

So the morning starts out at Great Meadows at 8.30am when I get there and meet my evaluator/escort.

Grom gets to come out of the truck and take care of his personal business before he goes back into the crate where he stands by while I receive his orders. We are to cover the 60 acres of three fields at Great Meadows in a search for the owner of a truck that the staff found on the grounds after an event.  I ask (Hopefully) pertinent questions about all thing things I am going to need to know to construct a search strategy, I look at the map, I draws some lines that may or may not be helpful in the future and I try to talk too much so the evaluator actually has something to do other than sit there and watch me sweat.

After we have a strategy worked out, I go to the truck, get my gear together and strap on my pack.

This is where I realize that 1) the dog is still in the crate and 2) that it’s next to impossible to climb in there with a giant pack strapped on.  This is where the my evalutator starts to wish he had a camera out and that he could cue the 3 stooges music. But it doesn’t take long before Grom is out and ready to work. I am geared up and ready to work.

We’re Off-

Since the wind is coming out of the southwest, we take go through the north east gate and begin our grid pattern into the wind. It’s a beautiful day and we have a nice strong 5mph wind right in our faces. Since this is actually a closely cut equestrian grounds we don’t really need to cut short grids through the field to cover everything, but in the interest of showing off how good my navigation skills are we’re cutting grids about every 35 meters, and we’re making sure they’re STRAIGHT!

This is the boring part, we walk back and forth across this field, watching as Grom does the one thing he loves to do more than anything else in the whole world. That would be running as fast as he can in giant circles around us as we walk our straight lines in the morning sun. He sprints from tree to fence, stopping and sniffing. Then he’s off to an obstacle with his head high in the air sniffing for who ever is out there to give him his play reward. This is a dog doing what a dog lives to do. (As a handler, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as watching him working really hard and loving every single second of it.)

In the map you can see the area and how we covered it.

The black lines are the borders around our area of responsibility and the red line, starting in the top right side, is the path we took. The first part of that line with the three narrow grids is pretty boring, but we soon cut south into the area with the creek running through it. Grom has a great time checking out the sides of the creek as I and my escort/evaluator pretend to talk on the radio, discuss what would actually happen in a real search with the large trailers full of chairs and tables stacked next to the creek, and check the wind to see if the wind still favors the search strategy.

Now the one thing about testing is that they try to make similar to actual searches, but some things you just can’t plan.

Like the fact that right in the middle of this test, were I and my evaluator are watching the wind move and judging distance covered vs time, and if we have a good….. OH MY GOD! WHERE DID THIS EXTRA PUPPY COME FROM!?!

That’s right, out of nowhere a 7 month old black lab/dachund mix came screaming up to me and laid a vicious Puppy Kiss Attack on me! Luckily my evaluator/escort was on top of his game and tried to grab and control Mystery Puppy. Unfortunately by this time Grom had returned from scouting the creek and bushes only to discover that his skills as Puppy negotiator were needed. So he inserted himself and sternly asked some serious questions. Loosely translated from Puppy Body language they were “Who are you?” and  “What do you think you’re doing with my people?”. Followed by the most important question, delivered after a piercing stare and some sniffing “…… Do you want to PLAY?”

As handler, at this point, I figure the test is wrecked.

We have to get Grom back on task and his head back into the game. After we corral Mystery Puppy and give him back to the woman who was chasing him, Grom goes back on the lead, and walked to the other side of the creek where we take a moment to call out for the subject, and restart the search. I silently hope that Grom doesn’t just go back to the puppy and play . Luckily Grom has his game face on and gets back to work. We finish up the big field in about 10 minutes, doing another cross before heading to the south gate where we can cross some marshy banks and get over to the east field.

Unfortunately the east field has a pond that we have to pass which is filled with geese and nests.

Now Grom has to check the banks of the pond which mean that he’s got a chance to chase geese, and if there are any, goslings. It’s time for another silent plea for Grom to resist temptation. After a couple of calls to leave it, I and my evaluator start  heading north east up the creek so we can move south down this field into the wind. Grom, like a champ, follows along checking stands of trees and bushes. As we reach the north end of the little field Grom is diligently working bushes and shrub, checking where other dogs have been, and we pass the “abandoned” vehicle.
At the north east end of the field I see his ears go straight up in the air and his nose goes into the wind.
He has the look. I look at my evaluator and say “He’s got something. “

Grom has the 1000 yard stare, looking up a hill he can’t see what he can smell, but he knows it’s out there.

So he takes two steps backwards, lifts his leg to pee on something and then lights out up and over the hill. My evaluator is smiling big and says softly, “watch the magic happen now.”

As I reach the top of the hill I can see Grom working the scent in a cone pattern that could have come out of a book as he closes the 60 meter gap to find his reward. When he gets to her, he sticks his nose into the subjects arm pit and comes screaming back to me to deliver a three bark indication like he’s just found the coolest thing ever. I give him the go ahead to lead me to her. Only problem is that he’s four times faster than me and I’m only 30 meters closer when he gets to her, so he runs back to me and delivers another loud and proud indication and makes me swell with pride. With my permission he continues to lead me to the subject.

Once I’m finally there, and only when I’m finally there, does the tug come out of my pocket so he can get his well earned  reward from the subject.

“That”, says Grom, as he tries to tug the arms out of the subject, “is how you pass an Open Field test!”

Grom’s First Boat Ride

Posted in Dog diary, dog training, life with a working dog, pets, Search and Rescue with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by rattlerjen

My little guy has never been on a boat before.

Lucky for him, one of the other awesome k9 search teams in Virginia happened to have a boat set up for the fur ball.  We geared up and headed for adventure.

“Where are we going and what is what that funny vest you are wearing?”

First, we ask the G-man to wait before hopping on.  He should only enter and leave the boat when given permission.  Safety first!

Did I mention that Grom doesn’t know how to swim…

“Hey, is that stuff wet?”

The view is best up front.

Arrrrrrrh!  I am the feared Furball Grom, prepare to be boarded.

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