Care Bear Flare
My life started out anything but warm and wonderful.
I was a product of what they call a Working Breed Line of Belgian Malinois. Just as the name indicates, I was born and meant to work. I was born in the Miami Dade area. Because of the high crime in that area there are a lot of Malinois bred for the local Police Departments and other law enforcement agencies.
I can’t be positive, but I think the first two homes I was in were with police officers. When I went to my first home, I was about 2 months old. They placed me in the garage area so I would have room to roam. That was fine, but I was bored stiff and when we get bored or rambunctious, we find ways to occupy ourselves and all hell can break loose. Well that’s what I tried to do – break loose. We (Belgian Mals) can be very strong and powerful, even at 8 weeks old. I jumped and hit the garage door so many times that it began to break apart and when it did, that was my chance – to chew my way all the way through. I did and I was loose and fancy free. I was just trying to get out the same way I saw my person leave – that was through the garage door.
Apparently you humans consider it destructive and upsetting when we do things like chew through garage doors. After just a few weeks with this person, I found myself in this cold, dreary place; it was called a shelter. I had no one to call my human to call my own. I don’t understand how it could be referred to as a shelter. There was no one to shelter and/or protect me. I was just a puppy. I was scared and wanted out of there. I was only a 3 months old puppy and I was there for what seemed like an eternity. Actually, it was two weeks because they have this two week rule, that you have to stay that length of time just in case your owner changes their mind.
At the end of the two weeks another person came to get me. This person was OK – but again, apparently did not have a lot of smarts about a Working Mal, especially a puppy. This person put up a big piece of plywood to keep me from becoming foot loose and fancy free. I tried to be on my best behavior for as long as I could, but my puppiness got the best of me, and yes I ate through the plywood. What do you expect:
1) I’m a puppy.
2) I’m a Mal puppy.
3) Plywood is an excellent source of fiber.
4) Working Mals love a challenge.
5) I was bored to tears.
You can guess what happened next; between the source of fiber and upsetting yet another human, unfortunately my little butt was dragged back to the pound. I was now about 5/6 months old. Another two week waiting period, and every day my energy is building and my excitement for another chance at a home. Day after day nothing happened. After another two weeks another humanoid came by to take me home. I just wanted a home, and I was willing and needing to work for my human. I wanted a human companion. I honestly didn’t and still don’t understand people.
I think the shelter must have told this new person (my next victim) that I was a breakout artist in my previous two homes, because this new home (my third home) used cinder blocks to keep me in the area that they designated as mine. Again, I did my best to abide by their rules, but found myself confined and restricted and this pushed my buttons…and here was a new challenge. So you guessed it, I started chewing my way through the cinder block. I knew I would eventually get myself out to FREEDOM. YAY! This challenge, however, was very hard on my teeth and mouth. My teeth were ground down to almost nothing and my gums were always bleeding, not a good scene.
Well, my owner…which I will never understand – they don’t own us because they can’t even keep us for more then a couple weeks. What’s up with that? Animals would never do that to one of their own that they are supposed to protect and provide for. So, my so called owner put me in the car and took me back to the shelter. Doesn’t anyone understand?…I come from a working line of Mals and I need to work.
This time going back to the shelter was different. This is my third time back, and this seemed some how much more dismal. I was being surrendered for the third time. Surrendered – Given up on, relinquished. That means your human doesn’t care if you live or die when they surrender you. How can people give up on a soul that they as humans brought into this world, to be their companion, then just leave them, drop them off to die? At the hands of another human. And they call us animals. Well enough about that.
Any how…Getting back to what I was saying. This time was different. If you are surrendered for the third time you were put in this area – which was a waiting area and after just a couple of days you were taken to this one particular room to be euthanized. A nice way of saying they put you to sleep permanently and forever. I was being lead down the hall to this room to be euthanized. I could actually feel and smell the death from the dogs who were there before me. I was scared. This woman yelled down the hall from behind us…wait bring him back. I was shivering in the pads of my feet.
These two ladies were talking and I didn’t understand what they were saying but I felt like that was the day my life was saved. Later that same day this woman came to the shelter to pick me up. She was somehow different. She seemed kind and soft hearted. When we got to this new place, there were lots of dogs and even newborn puppies there. But, because there were puppies there and I was just coming from the shelter, they kept us separated, afraid I would bring in Kennel Cough to the puppies or the puppies may have been born with a disease that I could pick up, so we were separated.
What I didn’t know was, there was a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes to save my butt. This person that came to get me was a member of a Nationwide group (not sure what that is – but I know that it’s big) called American Belgian Malinois Club Rescue – ABMC Rescue for short.
Well, this woman in Central Florida, we’ll call her Angel, had a personal contact at the shelter. I’ll never know who she was – but obviously they spoke many times about my situation. Angel saved my life that day. She truly is an angel here on earth. I found out most of the people in this group ABMC Rescue, are truly amazing individuals.
As it turns out, unknown to me, Angel at the very last second, was able to talk with my “Mom” who agreed to take me, and all the plans were put in motion that stopped my walk into that room at the end of the hall. I found out later, that on that last second call to my Mom Angel said, I hate to put you on the spot, but we have a situation, and I need an immediate answer. I am disparately trying to save a young pup’s life. We have an 8 month old puppy who is about to be euthanized. Do you think you can take him or do you think you can handle him? Here’s what he has been through and here is what he has done. She proceeded to tell her my story up to that point.
I was told my Mom said, without hesitation, said absolutely I’ll take him. That’s when the call came in, that stopped the walk down that hall to the room where I was to be euthanized. I was literally just minutes away from dying.
The logistics were being worked out – but in just a few weeks I would meet my new Mom. Angel drove me in her car to a large park like setting where I met my Mom for the first time. I knew she was different because the first thing she did was to pull out a large blanket put it on the ground and we sat there giving each other kisses rolling around like two old soul mates meeting again for the first time. This apparently made Angel very happy as she was crying tears of joy.
Mom had this very large crate set up for me in the back of her SUV. I jumped in like I had been there a 1,000 times. Angel warned mom again, please be careful, he is an escape artist he can get out of there in a heartbeat. I knew I was home, where I was meant to be. I made one circle to check it all out and laid down for the two hour drive home.
Although Mom had about 35 years of training dogs under her belt, (she had already had another Mal her name was Sniffles), she had not had a Working Mal. I had a lot of training to do. Do you think I was appreciative and made it any easier on my Mom for saving my life…not on your life. I’m a Mal and she’s my Mom.
The first order of importance was the damage that I did to my teeth chewing through all the obstacles put in front of me in my first three homes. After seeing a Veterinarian Dentist, and to make sure I wasn’t in any discomfort or pain (yea like that would matter after all I’ve been through in the last 6 months) it was decided, it would be best if we did root canals four of my teeth, including two canines. That set Mom back about $4,000. I knew she loved me, and I was in my permanent home.
After a short recovery, it was back to playing ball. In order to use up all the energy I had, and I had a lot – I could go full throttle 18-20 hours a day. (Oh yea, remind me to tell you about how I got my name.) Mom would play ball with me a couple hours a day. The problem was she was a little slow in releasing the ball, and if I got too excited sometimes when I jumped up to take the ball, it was more like a body slam and several times she hit the ground hard. One time, I didn’t mean to, but I hit her so hard that her head bounced off the concrete.
The funny thing was…the next time we played ball Mom came equipped with, not one, not two, but THREE balls. YAY. I knew she was a fast learner. She was finally getting the hang of what it was like to play with a wild Maligator.
Over the next couple of months, she introduced me to sport, that was new to me, called Schutzhund. This is where you learn to Track by initially smelling food that was placed on the ground. Man, that was simple and fun.
The second part of the sport, is called the Obedience part. That’s where we had to walk and work as a team. Mom always made that part fun, we also used food and played ball for the Obedience part. It was party time, food and ball… what else could you want?
The third part of Schutzhund is what they refer to as Protection. I don’t understand this, because those humans don’t protect us at all. In fact, the only protection is for them and that’s a sleeve that they put over their arm to play tug with, and they don’t need to do that we would play tug with or without the sleeve, if we were asked to. Like any game, there are rules in Schutzhund that you have to live by and act on. It’s like the game “Go Fish” if you’re told to “Go Fish” then you have to “Go Fish”, but you don’t do it without being told. It’s actually quite simple. You don’t get to play tug, unless you are told to play tug.
Between the ball playing during the week and the Schutzhund training on the weekends, I was finally able to use up some of my energy. But, that wasn’t enough. I still had tons of energy to burn.
Mom found this place called Pet Paradise Resort. It is truly a resort for dogs. We had a huge swimming pool, tons of interaction with the staff and other dogs – at the end of our day at day care, we were worn out. That was a happy time and place.
After several years my energy level is finally coming to what would be considered a much more normal level. I guess that’s good, because although Mom doesn’t like to admit it, she’s getting a little older. Don’t get me wrong, she still looks good, but we are both now sporting a little gray fur and hair. She’s sporting the fur and I’m sporting the hair. No just kidding.
We still have our challenges:
Like the time they were delivering our new Dining Room furniture to our new home in Birmingham. I was a little rambunctious while they were moving it through the Living Room to the Dining Room and jumped up and ran across the table and server. Yeah the scratches are still there. Mom was upset about that one.
Then there was the time when the energy was flying, and so was I, and I launched off the top step of our split level home, I hit the entrance chandelier, shattered the glass, landed on the marble coffee table in the Living Room, toppling the HEAVY marble top almost onto Sniffles, then crash landed under the dining room table. Mom was not happy or amused.
We have this lawn service that manages to piss me off every time they get too close to the kitchen window; the glass in those windows is so thin it shatters every time you hit it. Somehow when the glass shatters, and it always does, at least it has the last three times, that makes the alarm go off – the police come, the lawn service isn’t happy, the police aren’t happy and mom’s not happy imagine that. I told the police department they did not have to show up – that I was here and a very capable Maligator at that. They were not amused.
There were several incidents with the Pet Sitter. One where there was a bee in her hair, she was swinging at it, her glasses fell off her head – she hit herself in the face with her cell phone and I just thought she wanted to play, so it was game on. Probably not a good idea; but she still loves us.
There are so many counter surfing episodes, we stopped counting years ago.
So, if you are reading this and want to consider a Mal, please be sure that you would be able to handle all the above situations with love and a great sense of humor, because it’s not easy, but Mom is mellowing with age and so am I.
Oh, as I promised about the name thing: Mom went through flight school and earned her Multi-engine Commercial Pilot’s license. So, she was a pilot. She doesn’t fly any more, she stays at home or at least on the ground to take care of us. In aviation when you need to be rescued, as I did when I was in the shelter, you light a flare, so that rescuers can find you. Also, when you are going in for landing at your destination airport, you put the airplane into what is referred to as a flare; and this is my final destination so I was appropriately named “Flare”. I care so much for my Mom that she has given me the nickname “Care Bear Flare”.
I hope you enjoyed my story.