Living with a Belgian Malinois

Living with a Belgian MalinoisAs many of you know, the movie Max came out this week. The movie is the story of a war dog who returns after his handler dies in the field, and the dog suffers severe PTSD.

As typically happens with movies, interest rises for the featured breed, and people are curious. They want to know what the Malinois is really like. The dog in the movie is awesome, well-trained, a bit freaky, but oh so cool looking, and how neat would it be to have a dog like that?

Putting aside that that particular dog (his name is Carlos in real life) is an actor who has extensive, ongoing training, the main thing you need to know about living with a Malinois is that it truly is a lifestyle. Spend time with the breed, go to shows, be around breeders, get involved in rescue, foster, etc. Because no amount of words will ever sink in as we say they’re hyper energetic, ALWAYS (I swear to you they do not calm down until about 11 or 12 years old). They are super smart, neurotic, and emotional.

All I can give you is an example of a normal interaction. So, here you go, a regular every day conversation with my Belgian Malinois, Duke.

A Conversation with a Malinois

Are You Awake - Living with a MalinoisDuke: It’s time to get up, now, are you awake?
Me: Morning Duke, can I sleep a bit more?
Duke: Sure, I’ll hold it as long as I can. How about now, is now good? Are you awake yet?
Me: Sure, that extra 4 seconds made all the difference.
Duke: So happy to hear, I like to make you happy. Let’s go, let’s go.

We get downstairs and go out to the dog pen outside so Duke can relieve himself.

Duke: What the hell, it’s raining. Why is it raining? Can you make it stop, I have to pee.
Me: No Duke, I can’t make it stop.
Duke: It’s because you don’t love me, right? Is it true, you don’t love me? Because I woke you up? Oh god, I’m horrible, you don’t love me.
Me: Duke, I do love you, you’re wonderful and sweet. I just don’t control the weather. But here, I have this umbrella you can stand under while you pee.
Duke: Can I pee inside, just this once?
Me: No, Duke, you have to pee outside.
Duke: Ok, I’ll pee quickly, because I love you. You love me, right?
Me: Yes Duke, I love you.

Inside, sitting waiting for his treat after coming in.

Duke: Can I please have a cookie?
Me: Yes, you’re a good boy.
Duke: I am, right?
Me: Yes. Here is your breakfast, would you like to eat it now?
Duke: Yes, but what are you having?
Me: Waffles.
Duke: Waffles sound good. Can I have waffles? Please?
Me: No, you don’t eat waffles.
Duke: I could, I would eat waffles for you, because I love you.
Me: I know you love me, Duke, and I love you, but you don’t eat waffles.
Duke: Ok, I’ll eat my breakfast then.

A bit later lounging on the couch.

dukeloveDuke: I love you. Can you pet me please?
Me: Yes, do you want your belly rubbed?
Duke: Yes, and my head, and my leg, and hahahahaha, that tickles. Do you mind if I chew your arm?
Me: I would prefer not.
Duke: Oh no, now you hate me, don’t you, because I chewed your arm, oh bad me.
Me: No, Duke, I love you. We were playing, let me pet you again.
Duke: Oh yay, can I lick your eyeballs? You look like you want your eyeballs licked, would you like that? I’m really good at licking eyeballs.
Me: Sure, you’re already doing it anyway. And yes, you are the best eyeball licker I’ve ever known. Such a good boy.
Duke: Oh happy day, you love me and love what I do for you, my life is complete. Can I have some butter?
Me: Butter? No what made you think of that?
Duke: I smell butter from the kitchen. Can I have some? I would like to eat that.
Me: No, you can’t have butter.
Duke: Why can’t I have butter, it sounds wonderful. It smells good, too. I’ll bet it tastes good. Can I please have some?
Me: No, Duke, you can’t have the butter. Butter will make you sick and it will make you poop.
Duke: Oh, I don’t like to poop, I know I have to, but I don’t like doing it at all. Oh, I have to poop. I have to poop now. Can you take me to poop?
Me: Yes, but first you have to get down.
Duke: Why do I have to get down, is it because you don’t like me anymore? It’s because I have to poop. You don’t like me because I have to poop?
Me: Duke, I love you, but you have to get down because you’re standing on my liver and it’s starting to get a bit sore since you weigh about 68 pounds. And I can’t get up if you’re standing on my liver.
Duke: Oh, I’m sorry, here, let me help you get up. Oh, you’re up, can we go outside?
Me: Thank you Duke, I love you, you’re so helpful. Yes, we can go out.

Out is one of his favorite words, and he hears it regularly, it has the same tonal quality as when you move your position ever so slightly and he starts to get so excited. If you move your head to look in another direction the particles in the air collide to sound just like the word out, and he gets happy and excited.

dukerainDuke: Oh crap, you said out, out out out out out, I love out. Let’s go, I want to go out. Yay, we’re going outside, did you know that? C’mon, let’s go, this is the best day ever. Can I bring my blankie with me?
Me: No, Duke, leave the blankie inside. you don’t want to get it dirty.
Duke: Oh, right, good call. You always look out for me. It’s because you love me, right? You do love me, right?
Me: Yes, Duke, I do love you. Let’s go outside.
Duke: Out out out, we’re going outside, yay. Ok, you go first. Shit, what’s that, it’s raining. Oh god, did you know it was raining? Why is it raining, make it stop, I hate it raining. Is it raining at the back of the house, too? I like the back, I can run, the rain there is different.
Me: Yes, it’s raining, but here’s the umbrella.
Duke: Oh god, I have to poop and it’s raining, this is the worst day ever.
Me: It’s ok, Duke, let me give you a hug. You’ll be fine. I’ll be right here with you, the rain won’t hurt you.
Duke: Are you sure … oh, doesn’t matter, I have to poop …. ok, done, let’s go inside.

As soon as he finished pooping he bolted inside the open door to get out of the rain.

Duke: Wait, what are you doing? You’re still outside. Are you ok? Are you upset that I ran inside the door? Do you want me to come back out there with you?
Me: Duke, it’s fine, I’m coming, no, you can stay inside, I’m just walking back in.
Duke: Ok, and you love me, right? Do you want me to attack the rain for you? I’d do that, you know, if you wanted me to.
Me: Yes Duke, I know, and you don’t have to attack the rain for me. I love you.
Duke: Oh good, I love you too.

I was still outside and had to walk the 20 feet and close the umbrella before coming inside with him.

dukebutterDuke: You made it, you’re inside safely. I’m so happy. Here, let me give you a hug.
Me: Duke, what’s that in your mouth?
Duke: It’s part of the lawn mower casing.
Me: What the hell are you doing with a piece of the lawn mower in your mouth.
Duke: Well, while you were outside and I had to wait for you, I had to find something to keep busy. I saw the lawn mower and thought it would be tasty.
Me: Duke, it was like 4 seconds, how did you get that off the lawn mower in 4 seconds?
Duke: (looking all proud) I’m fast, and good. Aren’t you proud of how good I am? Here, would you like the piece, I got it for you. Can I give you a hug? You look like you need a hug, and I love you.
Me: Awww, I love you baby boy. You give the best hugs.

I open the door to inside and he bolts in, going straight to the kitchen for his cookie.

cookie-pleaseDuke: Can I have a cookie, please?
Me: Yes, but can I ask why you are sitting on the counter?
Duke: I’m next to the cookies, I thought it would be easier for you to give me a cookie if I’m right next to them.
Me: Um, well, this is new. Can you get down off the counter, please?
Duke: Of course, can I still have a cookie? Would you like to give it to me before I get down? I won’t eat it until I’m down, but I’ll carry it down for you.
Me: No, down first, thank you. Here’s your cookie.
Duke: Thank you. Can I have the butter now?

NOTE: while Duke is a super smart boy, he is not actually speaking in English, but every comment attributed to him is vocalized. They are not a quiet breed, either.

Seriously, research the breed and spend some time, a lot of time around them before you make your decision. And please get involved in rescue. American Belgian Malinois Rescue.

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