Life with a Malinois – Day 293

Feels like we’ve had Chessy, our belgian shepherd Malinois, for a lifetime. She is 13 months old as of tomorrow 8 November. You can imagine the steep learning curve we have had with Chessy, being first time dog owners, being first time Malinois owners.

We’ve had good days and bad days. Days when I’m sure sure that we are not the right people for her. Days that I feel she needs people who are experienced dog handlers, experienced Malinois handlers. Despite these ‘bad’ days and days of self doubt, she brings us much joy, has turned our lives inside out and upside down (for the better I hope). She needs so much time and attention and luckily for us and her we work from home, so she has access to us for most of the day. She gets walked daily, and we (Chessy and I) go for training at the GSD club in Northcliff Johannesburg twice a week for 90min. I’m getting trained to be her handler. We started going to the GSD club in April this year.

Taking care of a dog is a commitment, is hard work, and takes a lot of love and patience. You get a lot of that love back, that’s for sure.

During this gap from today’s post to my last post about Chessy, there have been many interesting antics pulled off by Chessy. I’m sorry that I did not write about them.

Last weekend, I tried to give her a swimming lesson. Been trying for months actually. She isn’t afraid of water, but has issues with the pool. When we are at the park, she jumps into the pond on her own, but when are at home she stays clear of the pool for the most part. I took her in last Saturday, with lots of encouragement, praise and talking gently – she kicking and pulling back all the way. Once in, she swam quite well, but was just looking for a way out the whole 3 minutes or so that she was in the water.. Got her in again, same thing. Not sure why she is so afraid.

Our girl is a rascal. High energy, loves to play, loves to eat but above all craves attention. I think it may be her number one drive – attention. She wants to be in the middle of everything, wants to know what’s going on all the time. Does not like being outside on her own. Has to be wherever you are. For the most part, she can chill at home, and not get into trouble, so long as she gets to play inbetween and gets to free run at the park for 20-30min a day.  She tests us, pushes her limits, pushes our boundaries. It’s important to maintain the boundaries and the discipline otherwise, the undesirable habits start – such as chewing on cushions, shoes, socks, furniture,  pulling clothes of the line, attacking the cats, digging holes in the garden, uprooting plants, taking food off the kitchen counter…

One big problem has been finding the right food for her. She was on the BARF diet, and was doing really well on it, firm stools, no allergies, good energy level. But some time in July she started looking thin, skinny around the ribs and hips – increasing the portions did not help. We decided to try a dry food, but grain free ‘Holistic Earthborn Primitive Natural’. I can’t tell whether it’s the food or something she has been eating in the garden, but she has tummy issues, soft stools. It’s been going on since September. The vet has tested her stools, tested her digestive enzymes – everything is fine, no parasites, enough enzymes – just not sure what it is. May have to put her back on the raw food diet.

We have a long way to go with the training. I have a long way to go to being a good handler to her.  Below are some photos from January when we first adopted Chessy to October of this year.