If any of you follow the blogs, you might remember my first experience terrorizing the obedience rings of Central Kentucky. Ella was a lunging, frothing, mass of excitement. Parents snatched their children up, elderly cringed behind walkers, ring stewards ran from the scene. Large dogs cowered and small dogs hid. It was no exaggeration, she was a natural disaster looking for a place to occur.

10 months later…

This weekend we finished our CD with a 190, 193.5 and a nervous 188. She finished all three legs in just three shows, but not with out some gray hair. On the last leg she decided right when we stepped in the ring that she did not like the judge. I think he was holding his clipboard suspiciously, or so she thought. For the entire routine she never took her staring eyes off him. She didn’t miss a beat but she was vigilant. This of course made him (and me) a little nervous. When he did the stand for exam he barely touched her, she didn’t flinch or get snarky but she didn’t stop staring at him either. After the recall and she finished next to me she FINALLY looked up at me. The whole crowd burst into applause and she was so proud she forgot about the judge and started leaping into the air with joy!

I am pretty sure time stands still on the long sits and downs. I was a bundle of nerves, I just wanted the Q. Within three seconds of getting to the other side of the ring the dobie next to her stood up. Ella noticed and I could hear the gears in her little head turning. She stretched her neck over to smell and perhaps inform the dobe he was supposed to be sitting! Just when I was sure she was going to get up I used my strongest psychic powers to get her to stay. (I might have sniffed, not sure) but she snapped back into good girl mode. She took the oppurtunity to take a nap on the long down so my heart was able to recover from the sit.

She has come so far since the wild child I picked up a year ago. Stay tuned we are going to try Open in Janaury, that is if Santa sees fit to get me a set of jumps! I have been pretty good…

Colleen Dussex
Rescue Me Ella BH CD RN

Ella finishes her CD!

Feb 24th 2008

Hello from the land of Bluegrass and Exuberant Malinois!

I write in the blog because I want all the people who work to rescue these beautiful dogs that their work is appreciated. They are making a difference. And I write because I want people who are considering welcoming a Malinois into their forever home that these dogs have endless possibilites. Every day really is an adventure. Ella gives so much more than she takes. I cannot stand on my soap box long enough. Thank you ABMC Rescue.

Well we had our first sanctioned Rally Match and Ella was the true angel she has grown into. The match was in a warehouse and the echoes were booming. Ella was a little anxious but we walked around to get used to all the funny noises, smells and sounds. There were 23 dogs entered and she was several down the line, 15th.

This was my first official rally and I was mostly concerned that I would get lost. I walked the course a few times and as we were waiting I was going over the pattern in my head. After the initial excitement Ella settled down and fell asleep at my feet while I mumbled incomprehensible commands, come, come, come, heel….

We were on deck waiting our turn when the dog right before us experienced an ‘accident’. The clean up crew rushed in as the offender was whisked out. Before I knew it the judge was asking me if I was ready. I looked down at my dance partner and she wagged her tail in anticipation. Yes!

When I stepped off and started the pattern she was prancing right at my side her tail ticking back and forth with every step like a metronome. Not too fast, not too slow. I continued at a brisk pace from station to station and she never took her eyes off me, she popped every sit sharply with explosive exuberance. Unfortunately when we went over the wet spot, burning with chemical cleaners, she paused for a second like a princess not wanting to get her precious paws wet, and leapt to catch up. The other snag in our pattern was the come with a right finish. She has a fantastic left flip finish but her right finish was shaky and she ended up with a crooked sit. Not too shady for a first try. When we walked out everyone was congratulating us on an excellent run.

Outside the ring they post the scores after every entry and I was thrilled to see Ella scored a 98 out of a possible 100!!! They also time the runs and she had the fastest time of the day! We scored third place!! The best part was people were coming up to me and asking me questions and asking me if I knew any Malinois breeders in the area. This is a big step for a dog that has been snubbed and avoided at every function we have attended. People were shocked and amazed she was a rescue and I spread the word about all the great Mals available. One lady stated she wanted a puppy and I told her that they had some mal puppies too! Finally, Ella is the ambassador I knew she could be!

So now the big announcement, this Friday, March 7th Ella is entered in her first AKC show. She is making her debut in Tennessee, entered in the Novice Rally class. Keep your fingers crossed!

January 20th, 2008

Well the big day has finally come, Ellas first show! It seems like just yesterday I was picking Ella up from Kristen. She has come so far in such a short time! Every other Saturday we track and we have obedience class on Tuesdays. It was only 8 degrees today when we left the house. I bundled up in layer upon layer. Ella seemed immune the cold. She was just excited to go for a ride! We got to the expo hall and it was HUGE! At least 8 rings with both obedience and conformation going on. They were thump! dump! dropping the mats and the gates, people were rolling crates filled with excited barking dogs by and people were buzzing us in golf cards. Ella literally lost it. She was overwhelmed!

She quickly dragged me over to registration. The little old ladies taking money were cowering behind their table, you are going to show that dog? Yes, ma’am that is my intention….lunge, bark, hack, slobber, lunge again…. in what class?…. Jump, drag, poke,whine, lunge….obedience! Of course! The ladies took my money warily. Good luck they said meekly. I think they meant it…

When I went to check in at my ring I asked when my class would be. What class? Pre-novice. Its first up. Oh gosh, dont make me first, please, please, please. How about second? Sigh… wrestle wrestle… Okay. How much time do I have? Thirty minutes. Boy thats not enough to get my dog off the ceiling….

So in a desperate attempt to take the edge off I took Ella out across the parking lot for a freezing game of ball. She was unaffected by the cold arctic blast but my tail was freezing. Her little seal whiskers became frosted white with the frozen slobber. Her tongue longed and she seemed to smile. Maybe now she would calm down? Love springs hope eternal.

Back in the building, someone’s loose springer spaniel races to brawl with Ella. Poor Ella, with a booming No!! I string her up to prevent her from extinguishing said spaniel. I don’t think she would actually bite him but I couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t bite her.

So by the time we make it back to the ring she is firmly placed back on the ceiling. I pull off all my layers down to my new sweater. It is gold and tan and black. We look quite stunning together. But the sleeves were a little long. My daughter said its the style. Almost to my fingers. But it is toasty…

Now at this point I have several concerns… Namely, stand for exam, this could go either way. Sometimes she just doesn’t like men. I was considering asking to skip this part, but it was a fun match right? The other concern was the figure 8. I had been there for forty minutes and she had lunged at every person that came with in 5 feet of her. I shuddered to think of those poor ladies standing as posts enduring 65 pounds of malinois hurdling in their direction…

Number 107….number 107, Ella? Here goes nothing. At least her heeling is strong… my last thoughts entering the ring. The judge seemed kind enough. Reminded me that I could not correct my dog. I understood. I looked down on her as we were about to begin. An angel, she looked at me just like an angel, filled with adoration in her eyes. It was going to be alright…

My first three strides Ella was po-go-ing it on two hind legs. I have never seen such a sight. People were gasping. I tried to calmly with out due force request her to off. At which point she looked down and notice my shoe laces. Now I have worn the same shoes to train her in the past few months but today she noticed that I had fun looking laces and she promptly started pulling on them as we walked. I was completely flabbergasted! I lost sight of my heeling pattern and was concentrating on stopping that behavior and not falling down. Once we came back to our senses and we were back on track we made the final about turn and she noticed…. an new sweater!! And its long! at which point to my horror she started playing tug of war with the left sleeve of my sweater. I kept trodding on, praying the sweater didnt rip apart and I would blind the audience (who was now growing at the spectacle.) topless. She kept up quite deftly grrring and tugging along. Right then I was praying for lightning or spontaneous combustion or any way out of the ring.

After completing? the heeling pattern it was time for the dreaded figure 8. The two stewards scuffled out to their posts like dead men walking. There was fear in the air. Nervously they stood, cringing as much as a post can cringe, bracing for the inevitable. The judge asked if I was ready, I hope so… And beyond all expectations, Ella did the figure 8 perfectly! No lagging, no forging, no tug of war, sitting perfectly, smiling up at me, her tongue hanging out to one side. The audience broke out in applause! The judge asked me if that was the same dog… I think so… maybe the demons took leave.

And the stand for exam, perfect! She didnt move one toe, she barely licked sweetly when he offered his hand to her. Maybe the demons had left… I thought too soon, the recall was more like a tackle. She came bounding to me jumped up paws on my chest, eye to eye and then plopping down on my feet. The finish was explosive she burst up and around and once again the audience clapped.

On the long sit and down she was next to a papillon and I think she spent the entire time trying to decide if that was a dog or a cat. She didnt move but she did stare intensely making me and the dogs owner quite nervous. So all in all it was an educational experience.

We came, we saw, we conquered. Well kinda.

I would like to introduce you to my pride and joy Ella. Also known as Ellie the Gazelle, Ella Blue and Oh No!!!! I adopted her from ABMC Malinois Rescue. I don’t know if I rescued her or she rescued me. I do know life has been an adventure since she arrived in October.

The first time I went into Petsmart I thought we would be banned for life. She tried to jump everything moving and somethings that weren’t. Mothers were clutching their children and brave dogs cowered. I can’t bear to tell you what happened in the Science diet aisle. Lets just say, it happens.

So it was off to obedience school. The clutching and cowering continued but we went every week. Ella is a sponge! She wants so badly to please and to have fun. Her bat ears and determination always makes me smile. By the third week people started to talk to us. They did stay a safe distance away but they would smile meekly and nod.

By the end of the six weeks Ella was the Star Pupil. She put pizazz in her heeling. She performed every command with explosive energy. The true test came after graduation. It was back to Petsmart! The cashier saw her as she entered the doors, I could see her catch her breath in anticipation. Ella looked left, she looked right, I braced myself and she looked into my eyes with a smile and sat sweetly. Miss Ella Blue has arrived.

More to come on the Adventures of Ella