Operation Save Jake
When I first got into Malinois, the breed was still relatively new in the country. We only had about 7 dogs that had been imported (I’ll just focus on all the dogs that were actually bred from though), all from Australia. Two with Eiramwood Kennel, and 2 with Swartzhund kennel – and all four these dogs were VanRusselhof dogs. RedDog also had two malinois, one from Ausmechel and the other from Nordenstamm.
On of these dogs was Jake, a singleton puppy from VanRusselhof kennels. I had heard stories of Jake, including that he was taken away to live with another trainer right before Dog Control came to destroy him because he sounded horrible when he would attack himself. Also, at a seminar I attended Jake chewed off his own tail because of the turmoil of not coming out to play while he heard the fun the other dogs were having. Up until that point Jake had been an only dog, and I believe the trauma of seeing his vehicle mate get out to train but having to stay in the car was too much for him.
Not long after that, the stories started coming out about his first litter. One puppy from his first litter had attacked a person so badly that she was still on morphine a year later. This first puppy shouldn’t really have done that as he was with an experienced trainer, however I did hear that he encouraged that puppy to become human aggressive.
The other puppy had run across a field to attack another dog. Now, in this case I do believe the owner was at fault. She was insistent on raising her Malinois puppy with positive only methods and the trainers she worked with understood Border Collies, not Malinois. Not only that, but one of her other dogs had previously done exactly the same to one of my dogs. Which points to the owner, not the dog.
Anyway, due to chasing titles with my own dog at the time, Delta, I moved up to Auckland and lived at the same property where Jakey was, along with Delta’s Brother, as well as a dog from one of the Eiramwood litters. Anyway, Jakey wasn’t doing much and no one was working him so I volunteered to do some training with him.
The people who had him were all trying to make him out to be this monster, and it kindof worked. Everyone believed that Jakey was really a mean dog. But he wasn’t. Except for his thing about killing cats, he really doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.
Jakey never progressed in IPO passed his BH because he didn’t have any real aggression. It was all prey drive. The conversation went something like “to get Delta out of prey drive and into aggression, the decoy whipped her feet to make her angry. The reply came “do you think we didn’t try that? We whipped his feet till he bled!
Yes, that’s right. Jakey wouldn’t get angry, no matter what abuse he got.
One day I was out in the kitchen making dinner, and I had a cracked egg, so I went outside and called Jakey over to give it to him. When I called his name and he came over, the look of sheer surprise that anyone should call him and give him attention was priceless. A look you would expect from a neglected child who never got any attention.
In the end I had to leave the property for my mental health and the safety of my dog and her puppies. And I couldn’t take Jakey with me. Though he was never far from my thoughts. That look of pure amazement that I should even call him had haunted me ever since.
When a few years later I learned that Jakey was going to be put to sleep because he was “too difficult and too old” to be rehomed (I checked with my source to get the wording exactly right). I pulled out all the stops and contacted all my friends who knew Jakey well. Everyone knew that Jake didn’t have a malicious bone in his body and he just wants to be loved. But it’s the one thing he had been denied. I made sure they all knew that I would take them if they couldn’t because I wasn’t going to let Jakey die without knowing what love was.
I couldn’t contact Jake’s owner myself, because of politics, I knew that he would rather let Jakey die than let me have him and give him the retirement he deserved. Yes. He hates me. His friend who had Jake in his care left Delta in Jake’s cage while she was in season and this resulted in my litter where I was so stressed I almost ended up taking my own life because I had 6 puppies and no one wanted them.
Plus Jake’s owner kept demanding I owed him a stud fee, which I told him to get from his mate. But he wouldn’t. In the end I let the mate buy a puppy from me so that Jake’s owner could have a puppy. I wasn’t going to let the mate get off scott free! I never wanted to use Jake. I had other plans! But that’s besides the point. I knew Jake’s owner really wanted me to breed Delta to Jake. Anyway, the puppy ended up getting attacked by the friend’s other dog and then died of heatstroke only 4 weeks after she left my care. I was so angry.
A friend of mine was able to take him. And she reports that he’s doing so well and she is loving that he’s becoming a dog again. His self destructive behaviours have completely stopped. He’s the most cuddly dog ever – though it’s more of a wrestle than a cuddle because he doesn’t know how to cuddle and will give you a bloody nose.
The state of him is terrible though. One of his ears is no longer erect from where his previous caretaker allowed his dog to pick on Jakey. He’s limping from old injuries that were never taken care of. But, he’s safe.
Why is the story of Jake so important for me to tell? Because saving Jake was the reason I found my why. Because I never wanted a dog to be accused of being “too dangerous”, “too difficult”, “too old” or whatever to be saved. And if I didn’t step up as a dog trainer and make it my goal to help owners become better able to handle more difficult dogs. Seriously, if I can learn how to handle these dogs, so can you. And the benefit is that the more of you who learn how to handle difficult dogs the less dogs will go to shelters and the more dogs will be able to be adopted and find a family who not only will love them but be able to help them live their best life!
And that is the ULTIMATE win-win! And I LOVE win-wins. I don’t want dogs to get the green needle when they can live a happy life with a family who understands what they need and can help them! So… there’s only one way to do that… and that’s to do more than just help you train your dog to be good, but to help you UNDERSTAND your dog so that you become the dog trainer your dog needs! And I know this is working already because I’ve already helped so many owners save their dogs from the green needle! YAY!
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