I have been working with animals “professionally” since I was 10, at which time I started a grooming and care business in my neighborhood in my home state of Alaska. I had aspirations to compete in obedience with dogs, but unfortunately my parents had an affinity for Siberian Huskies. It was a sad day indeed when I read the obedience requirements to earn a title and knew that my childhood dogs were not contenders! Even so, I showed them in Juniors conformation and spent many hours training and exercising them.
Later, in high school, I turned my attention to competing in equestrian events with my horse Vangar, including dressage and show jumping. I moved to Europe to further my dressage career but ultimately decided that it was not my destiny.
At age 21 I took my first step into canine SAR with my mixed-breed dog Solo, and have been involved in K9 SAR ever since. Since then I’ve trained and handled five SAR dogs in wilderness, avalanche, tracking, and USAR/urban (disaster), and am still an active validated SAR handler for an Urban SAR Task Force. I am very fortunate to be one of the very small handful of paid SAR dog handlers in the USA. I have a deep interest in improving the canine SAR profile by constantly assessing best practices, exploring training techniques, and examining myths and beliefs to determine their veracity.
I obtained my first Malinois, Ruuska, as an avalanche dog prospect, and quickly became addicted to the breed and the possibilities it presented. SAR was barely going to scratch the surface of Ruuska’s capabilities, so I set out to learn dog sports. Since then, I’ve competed and titled my dogs in conformation (two of my dogs are Grand Champion conformation dogs and are owner-handled to boot!), competitive obedience, IGP, rally, and tracking. I have also become very interested and proficient in professional detection profiles including narcotics, accelerants, human remains, and explosives. Over the past year I endeavored to learn the sport of IGP with my Belgian import Quita. Although 2020 was not kind to my goals in that regard due to the pandemic, Quita and I recently earned our first IGP tracking title with a score of 96. Look for us at trials this fall as we go for our IGP1 and IGP2. On top of all that, I’ve become obsessed with bikejoring and skijoring. Bikejoring behind four Malinois is quite the thrill! I’ve dabbled in more traditional mushing but thus far four dogs is the most I’ve ever driven. I have immense respect for dog mushers; that is no easy sport!
I became interested in breeding for a number of reasons, and with excitement I’m finally launching the breeding program I’ve spent five years planning. Of all the challenges ahead of me, I think saying goodbye to the puppies will be the hardest. I truly hope to find excellent, caring, engaged buyers for the little souls I am bringing into the world with this breeding program.
In addition to dogs, I am a career emergency manager and business continuity expert, and have worked on projects in that field all over the world. I’m launching some research into the use of canines in disaster and emergency response, and hope to share my findings with you as I go. This is a new chapter in my life and I am happy to have you along for the ride.
I am so grateful to my mentors, Theo Berkers and Eveline van der Goes of Les Betulacees kennel in Belgium for their support and ongoing advice, not to mention the three beautiful dogs they have provided for my program.
Belgian Malinois: The Breed
It is my firm belief that the Malinois is the ultimate dog and I will die on that hill forever! There is no other breed that can do so much, so well. There is no other breed that will give so much to a handler. There is no other breed with such trainability and intelligence. Whatever you need a Malinois to do, he can do and do well. They are a dog that will get under your skin, into your heart, and stamp themselves onto your soul. Working with a Malinois is the most rewarding experience a dog handler can have. You will never forget it.
When I sought a new avalanche prospect five years ago, I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything but a Malinois and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Training in SAR was never easier. My dog picked up everything I taught her nearly immediately. She validated in the avalanche profile within months, but ultimately switched to USAR because her fine, long coat was a liability in the snow. USAR was a breeze for her as well; in our last validation the evaluators asked me why I’d even come along, since my dog could easily do the job without me. Needless to say: I was hooked.
I recommend Malinois for buyers who are motivated, involved, and committed to a lifestyle of interacting with their dog. A Malinois is not a pet – it is a working dog with extensive needs, not the least of which is a strong bond with its handler and a lot of attention.
The Malinois breed is growing in popularity and with that comes the erosion of once-cherished breed standards due to poor breeding practices. Breeding solely for “working ability” is not enough; nor is breeding just for the “look” or for a particular colour. It’s also inadequate to simply breed two good dogs together; one is breeding to the entire pedigree, not just that one dog. You don’t want to breed the one good dog out of a pedigree of inferior or unhealthy ones. It is vital for breeding dogs to have strong representation in their pedigrees of breed standard, working ability, excellent structure and conformation, DNA verification, and health testing. This is the first thing I looked for in foundation stock – a pedigree that represented those fundamental standards.
Health testing is vital. There is no excuse whatsoever for not doing extensive health testing on a breeding dog! Malinois should be screened for hip and elbow dysplasia, eye problems, and spondylosis of the spine. It is my personal decision to breed only dogs with hips that are scored “good” or “excellent” by OFA, with ancestors with similar scores.
Working ability is fortunately still inherent in most Malinois. They are a highly intelligent dog, very sensitive and easy to train with formidable agility, stamina, strength, and speed. Still, verification of that ability is important, so titles and verified accomplishments for breeding dogs and their ancestors was also important to me. Although the ongoing pandemic has made it impossible to title dogs for the last 15 months, this is a consistent focus in my work – making sure my breeding dogs perform in the venues for which I breed puppies. You will see my dogs competing again throughout Canada and the USA when shows and trials open up and it is safe to attend events. Many of my dogs also have professional working jobs such as USAR, detection, and tracking.
Lastly, I wanted to be sure to breed to pure Malinois. Ensuring this means that breeding dogs’ ancestors must be DNA verified (proven to have been produced by the parents shown in the pedigree). Dogs should be registered by the kennel club of their country. Avoiding lines with suspected “hung papers” or mixed breed ancestry was important to me. (Note: Most purebred Malinois do have Tervueren or even Groendael in their pedigrees; this doesn’t bother me because of the somewhat complex situation surrounding registration of the four varieties of Belgian Shepherd Dog.)
The physical characteristics I specifically identified as my focus to improve in the modern Malinois are:
Size: I want to produce dogs between 45 and 60 lbs as specified in the breed standard. Malinois were never meant to be giant dogs. I want to keep my line to a reasonable working size.
Conformation: One of my main goals is to produce superiour forechest/shoulder conformation (many modern Malinois are very straight in the shoulder and lack forechest). Secondary characteristics I seek include straight topline, correct head and neck set, good angle of joints, and avoidance of “cow hocks.”
Ears: I want to avoid big ears – Malinois ears should not serve as secondary air brakes. Ears should be small, tight, and attractive.
Colour: I strongly prefer the traditional colour of a Malinois; that of a dramatic black mask and points and lighter body; whether red or fawn. Since Belgian Shepherd varieties are intertwined, it’s possible to get a very dark or very light dog; however, I find the traditional coat colours the most attractive and strive to stick to them.
I strive to have strong ethics in my practices. Genetic (and other) issues can arise unexpectedly in any breeding program; it is how the breeder deals with it, and the steps she takes to avoid perpetuating the problem that tells the tale. I am committed to doing my best to avoid genetic health problems, to due the due diligence required to produce outstanding dogs, to be transparent with my practices and decisions, and to support my buyers for the life of their dog.
It took almost five years of planning (and some trial and error) to find, raise, and title foundation stock that met those requirements, before ever putting a puppy on the ground. Now to see if all that planning will pay off! I’m happy to have you along for the journey.
Malinois are versatile, athletic, intelligent dogs who thrive with a strong connection with their owner and focused, active work to do. I’m motivated to work with buyers with an affinity for the breed, experience with strong working dogs, and the desire to be active in dog sports or working venues, such as IGP, competitive obedience, tracking, professional detection, search and rescue, and other active pursuits. Malinois are not for beginners or first time dog owners; however, I welcome all inquiries because a good buyer can come from anywhere.
At most times I have a limited number of trained juveniles available for professional detection, tracking, and USAR (urban search and rescue). Patrol dogs are occasionally available; though I prefer to sell to handlers rather than agencies. If you anticipate a future need for a trained dog in those areas please get in contact to pre-order. Please see “services” page for more information.
It was important to me to develop a guarantee that protects buyers, the dogs, and myself. Most breeder guarantees are very limited in duration and are essentially just lip service. I don’t want that for my buyers. After much thought I accepted that, while giving a very strong guarantee is not without risk of being taken advantage of, I had to offer what I think is the best guarantee in the business. I want happy buyers with happy, healthy, wanted dogs their entire lives. I must trust my screening process and believe that my buyers, like myself, operate in good faith. Thus, I have the following guarantees:
I guarantee all of my dogs against the following genetic diseases, for the life of the dog:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Spinal spondylosis
If a dog produced by my program develops these disorders in its lifetime, the owner receives a refund of the purchase price if they so choose and are permitted to keep their dog if they want to. Diagnostic requirements apply. Please see my purchase contract for specific terms.
Other genetic health disorders will be dealt with on a case by case basis. However, I promise you this: I will never abandon a buyer to deal with a genetic health issue on their own. I will work with you to find a solution and to help your dog as much as possible.
TRAINED DOG GUARANTEE
The health guarantee applies to all dogs produced by my breeding program including trained juveniles. Trained dogs are guaranteed for working ability in the profile in which they are trained; documentation and validation is provided for each dog before it leaves my possession. Buyers are REQUIRED to take a handler course with me or another trusted trainer (contact me for details on trainers), which is included in the purchase price.
For this reason I do not issue refunds for working issues that arise in the future. Once the dog leaves my possession its training and maintenance is the responsibility of the handler; I will not be responsible for training and handling mistakes once the dog leaves my possession. Should a handler encounter training problems, they will be addressed by myself or by other trusted trainers. I will do my utmost to assist if a training problem does arise or an unexpected situation presents itself that compromises the dog’s working ability.
I want happy buyers. If you are unhappy with the dog you have purchased from me, I will take the dog back for any reason and offer a $500 buy back refund. Under the health guarantee, buyers may keep their dog. Under the general guarantee, the dog must be returned to me in good health to obtain a refund. Other requirements apply. Please see my contract for specific terms. BE SURE YOU READ AND UNDERSTAND THE CONTRACT in this and other matters.
- No dogs purchased from me may be sold or re-homed without my written permission. I reserve the right to screen and approve or reject your choice of new home. You MUST return the dog to me if you cannot care for it any longer and you do not have a new home approved by me IN WRITING. Specific requirements apply; please read and understand the contract. The buyback guarantee applies in this case, but again, please read and understand the contract for specific terms.
- Breeding of dogs purchased from my program is NOT ALLOWED at this point in time. My program is new and I will not permit it to be compromised by outside breeding. I am the only breeder in North America specifically authorized to breed les Betulacees lines and for now it will stay that way. In the future purchasing a breeding prospect may be possible as my program matures and my line is further developed; for now, no. If you are looking for a dog for a breeding program please seek one elsewhere. Unauthorized breeding, accidental or otherwise, of dogs purchased from me carries penalties. Please see the contract for details.
- Buyers are expected to provide an appropriate standard of care including regular vaccines per AMVA (or equivalent) guidelines, dewormers, flea and tick prevention, and regular veterinary checkups by a qualified veterinarian. I strongly encourage feeding a vet recommended brand of dog food; Royal Canin and Science Diet being my personal favourites. Nutritional deficiencies or other health conditions caused by other diets are not covered under the health guarantee, and certain husbandry choices will invalidate the buy-back guarantee (though not the requirement to return the dog to me if you can no longer keep it).
Please be sure you read and fully understand the purchase contract before buying one of my dogs. The contract must be signed and executed by all parties before any dogs or puppies leave my possession. Please be sure to fully understand your rights and responsibilities per the contract before signing. This allows a clear and full understanding, enhances communication, and makes it possible for me to offer such a comprehensive guarantee of my puppies.