Every now and then I am asked about my dogs during my dog walks. The questions are interesting because people always respond positively. So far always to Leon, my big one, now increasingly also to Omero, my young dog. The question I hear most often is: "Is that a collie-mix? Every now and then I get the question, "What's in there?". On the one hand, I find it a pity that people don't even discover that my dogs are Belgian Shepherds, but that our breed is actually relatively unknown - at least almost all varieties except the Malinois. If you then answer that they are Belgian Shepherds, you usually get the reaction that you had imagined Belgian Shepherds differently. And how? Well, like the Malinois. Outside the cosmos in which we move, the other varieties are obviously relatively unknown. On the other hand, I think it's good that our breed, or the varieties, are not so well known, because then there is no danger of them becoming fashionable dogs, which would certainly not only have advantages.
Also interesting were snippets of conversation I overheard during a walk from a couple coming towards me: "Look darling, a Herder...". No, I didn't clear that up. Somehow I must have been far too perplexed that it didn't even occur to me that a Tervueren could be mistaken for a Herder.
But how did I actually come to the Belgians? Somehow I was already dog-crazy as a child. Where that originally came from, I can't understand at all, especially since neither of my parents had any affinity for dogs. Perhaps television with its films and series like "Lassie" was also to blame. No matter when I expressed the wish for a dog, it was crushed by my father because he simply didn't want a dog. And that is still the case today. He has nothing against dogs, but he doesn't want a dog in his household. My mother is not so strictly against a dog. Well, on my 12th birthday I was ill. And so it happened that my parents finally let themselves be persuaded and fulfilled my wish for a dog. As I had often and regularly walked and looked after the Cocker Spaniels of friends, it was now to be a Cocker. I would have preferred a German Shepherd even then, but my mother was afraid of German Shepherds. So we looked for a breeder of Cocker Spaniels. Of course, the search was quickly successful - even though nobody knew about the internet or smartphones back then. An advertisement in the daily newspaper and a public phone box had to be used to contact the breeder. And so one Sunday we drove to Paderborn to get a dog. Unfortunately, the puppies were all in quarantine because they had fleas. The puppies were also not staying with the breeder himself, but with his parents. So we couldn't take a dog with us. But as luck would have it, the parents were breeders themselves and had just had a litter of dwarf longhaired dachshunds. My brain began to work feverishly. I persuaded my parents to take a dachshund with them. I probably didn't really trust my father and was afraid that he might have second thoughts about the dog if we didn't take one right away. Yes, that's how I got my first dog.
Over the years, I had long since grown up and started a family of my own, several more dogs followed. With one exception, they were all not sheepdogs. Sheepdogs somehow never suited the life situations we were in. At some point, the children were big enough, so we dared to get an all-black German shepherd. Ronja was a super dear dog who was perfect for me. Yes, Ronja was a soul dog for me. That's how I had always imagined a dog to be. Theoretically, I didn't need a leash or collar with her, she obeyed my every word. She only had one quirk: she was addicted to balls. But that is another story. Unfortunately, I had to let Ronja go much too early, because she got liver cancer at the age of 9.
After the children were either already out of the house or at least out of the woods, it came as it had to come: my wife and I separated. Now I suddenly had the opportunity to realise my childhood dream. Now it was clear to me that I wanted to get a shepherd dog. So I intensively studied German Shepherds again. A German shepherd? But they are overbred, I thought. And they have so many health problems, such as HD. Of course, I'm not sure if that's actually true, but that's just the popular opinion, and that's what the media reports. Well, I wanted to have a dog that on the one hand combined the positive sheepdog characteristics and on the other hand robustness and health. And so I became more and more intensively involved with the Belgian Shepherd. I devoured everything I could read in a hurry. I looked for all kinds of articles on the internet - the positive ones as well as the negative ones.
A spirited dog who is happy to play until old age, who always remains curious and can always adapt, yes, that sounded exactly how I imagined my future dog. A dog who is not a sleeping pill, with whom I can actively spend my free time, who can do everything, from the dog park to sitting on the couch together, yes, that was it. Long walks and spending a lot of time together in nature and having fun, that was my idea. It should be a dog that learns new things well and quickly and has fun doing so. At the same time, I didn't want a dog that people would be afraid of. Yes, of course he should also protect home and family in case of emergency. The physical characteristics also suited me: I wanted a medium to large dog, but not a giant. And of course, the crowning glory would be that he would also be nice to look at. Everything I hoped for in my future dog was combined in the Belgian Shepherd. I had indeed found my dream dog.
Finally, I was quite sure that it should be a Belgian. The breed descriptions, the characteristics and also almost all the experience reports convinced me completely. Of course, I went to see the Belgians live. I really fell in love with the longhaired varieties. Because I like long-haired dogs, but at the same time I had made the experience with Ronja that many people are afraid of black dogs of that size, I started looking for Tervueren. Yes, and that's how I got my first Belgian.