Be Patient, Sometimes You Have To Go Through The Worst ... To Get The BEST!
Having Skipper gave me a flashback to the time that I took over Myla
Now that Skipper has been living here since February, a different time has come for me. Where I had a dog with Rowan that I could read and write with, with Skipper I have a dog that I still really have a lot to learn. I will not say "Everything", but a lot for sure. Skipper is a young dog who clearly does not yet know his limits. He still wants to try to climb higher in the ranking, and yes, he also tests me regularly. Every day I am training with him to teach him that we can live well together, but that I do not accept a ranking battle. Skipper is persistent in this, but so am I. Fortunately, these struggles are very friendly to each other. Everything is playful. Skipper has no harm in his way, and neither do I towards him. Let me put that first. I want him to learn that I am the boss, but I am in favor of POSITIVE TRAINING. After all, I want us to become buddies and he doesn't have to be 'broken'. He can remain himself. But just needs to know its place in the house. And although I am sometimes very busy with this, it is of course also fun. And it sometimes makes me go back in my mind to about 10 years ago. A flashback to the time I took over Myla from my sister. The time I went into training with Myla. Together to the course to build a bond. And to ensure that the little, much too free, half-derailed Malinois girl would get back into line.
Myla was so free and rebellious as a dog can be
Because how sweet and reliable that little Myla Mouse is now, she was so free and rebellious when I took her over. She was about Skipper's age when my sister admitted that Myla was beyond her control. Myla was in charge of my sister, both physically and mentally. Myla has always been a very muscular and strong dog. And she knew it! And she took advantage of that. For my sister she was not just a bit, but very much too strong. My sister's and Myla's walks consisted of Myla determining where my sister went. My sister did not keep that up for long and soon she stopped walking with Myla, but just let her run out of her garden gate to an adjacent field. Myla, Micky and my sister last. A few balls and fifteen minutes of play until my sister had had enough… then it was back inside and that was it. This happened a few times a day. And if Myla was lucky, she could walk about 300 meters from my sister's house to my house. In terms of movement, she lacked nothing in this way. That wasn't the problem… but the problem was that Myla could do whatever she wanted and her ears were on her head just for show. And that's not what you want with a Malinois who is very enterprising and enthusiastic.
Two dogs is more fun than one dog!
At that time I already had Rowan, he was about 9 months older than Myla and the two got along fine. Playing around together, running together and sleeping together. And because I saw how nice it was with two dogs,
Make sure Myla wouldn't grab the little Gentle
I decided to buy a second dog. That became Gentle. A small Toy Australian Shepherd. And how strange that was when we picked her up in Groningen on January 23, 2010. She was so small! I was just scared to step on her. Now of course I was used to a big Rowan lying at my feet and I couldn't easily overlook that giant of 45 kilos, but such a small Gentle of 1.3 kilos… that was a different story! And then I also had Micky and Myla in the house during the day to take care of when my sister was working. And guess what… Little Myla didn't like Gentle at all. Which made me have eyes in the back of my mind to keep an eye on what Gentle was doing, but especially to make sure Myla wouldn't grab the little puppy.
Gentle found her way into Myla's heart
Fortunately, after about 3 weeks this changed and Myla and Gentle got along fine. Gentle had found her way into Myla's heart and from then on Myla went through the fire for Gentle and was truly a mother dog to the little puppy. But by now it had also become clear that my sister did not have an advantage over Myla, and I did. And for me it had also become clear, that how cute and fun I thought Gentle was. My heart went out more to Myla, and my sister had just totally fallen for Gentle. Not that she stopped loving Myla, but she had to admit that Myla was just a few sizes too big for her. Because of her physical problems that started to play out at that time, she just couldn't handle Myla. And that also got her in a mental mess with herself. She had no problems with Gentle. But it would never weigh 25 kilos. And Myla did. Since I was used to Rowan at 45 kilos, Myla at 25 kilos was not too much for me. Although even I had to admit that I was not used to the tremendous strength that put Myla on the line with walking. With her 25 kilos, she easily pulled faster than a 45 kilo dog. Unlike Rowan, Myla literally used all her strength against me ...
I wanted to prevent that Myla had to be relocated
So, after much talking and thinking, my sister and I decided to make an exchange. Gentle and Myla were going to move. Gentle to my sister, and Myla to me. This would make it a lot easier for my sister… and I had taken on a difficult task. But was determined to make it happen. Because Myla was just deep in my heart and I wanted to prevent that she would eventually have to be relocated because of behavioral problems that were indeed lurking at the time.
We worked so hard together, Myla and me
And when I think back to the times I can only conclude that we worked hard together. Both Myla and me. Literally blood, sweat and tears it cost me. In which I often sat with my hands in my hair because I thought that Myla would turn out to be a size too big for me. But I never gave up on continuing to work with her. And slowly but surely I saw that started to come through the hard exterior, and that under that hard, wild rebellious exterior of Myla, a very sweet, gentle and incredibly loyal Mechelen girl turned out to be hidden. A girl with naughty tricks, with a mind of her own, but willing to go through the fire for me. A girl who chose me with all her heart and wanted to work with me.
Myla and I practised for 13 weeks every day
One of the clearest memories I have of that time is that I was doing the Advanced Dog Obedience course and had to teach Myla the “Back Place” exercise. I practiced with her for 13 weeks, for 13 weeks I faithfully did the same training every day, for 13 weeks I bought her the most delicious snacks, made up the most challenging games for her and for 13 weeks I did my best to give her that exercise. And for 13 weeks, Myla has NOT DONE it ONCE. So I had come to the conclusion that she really didn't get it, didn't want it, that it was just TOO hard for her and had resigned to this being a step too far for my girl. When we then had to take the exam, I had a hard head that she would do all the exercises right that one time. But then there was still no dog overboard because even with an exercise with a fail we would pass this exam well. After all, my girl did all the other exercises well.
Myla had been fooling me for 13 weeks!
The examiner made me do a "follow" exercise first, then circle between all the other dogs with Myla having to keep walking at my foot while she was completely free, sit at a distance, lie at a distance, and everything went smoothly. Come here, follow closely, and finally the moment was there. She had to do the “Back Place” exercise, and I was fully prepared for her not to do this. After all, she had never done this in all those 13 weeks prior to this exam. I started the exercise, let Myla go, put the leash by her legs, let her stay, and walked back 30 meters to where the examiner was standing. Myla called to me and happily hopped over to sit neatly at my foot. Then came THE moment when I thought I knew for sure that the exercise was going to go wrong. I made the signposting gesture to where her line was and said “Myla Back Place”, then with open mouth and totally amazed to see how Myla got up nicely, walked the 30 meters to her leash… turned around there and put her front paws on the leash settled as if she had been doing this all her life. I could see from the twinkling eyes of my little Malinois girl that she herself was having the greatest fun and I was sure that this was her dog humor ... Apparently the little devil had been fooling me for 13 weeks and she knew very well what the intention was . And now that it came down to it, she wanted to do it for me too. Needless to say, I lavishly rewarded her after recovering from the surprise. Everyone around me was completely laughing because my fellow students had also seen for 13 weeks that Myla just didn't seem to master this one exercise. And just never wanted to do this for 13 weeks. Now this one important time she did it… and to this day… more than 10 years later, that one time is and remains the only time she wanted to do this exercise. Never before, and she never did it again after that exam. But I am still very proud of my little girl that she wanted to do it that one time.
That she wanted to do it that one time showed more than ever how loyal she is and how much she wants to do for me. When it came down to it, she felt how important it was and didn't want to let me down. And to this day I am more than 100% sure that I can always rely on Myla. She is not the biggest Malinois I know, she may not be the prettiest Malinois I know, but she is 100% reliable, the sweetest Malinois I know, and she really is my girl ...