The second part of our exploration landed us in a small, beautiful and quiet part of the world, the town of Flobecq, Belgium. Here we met up with Felix Ho of Sacraal Hart, an international level competitor, trainer and judge. Felix and his wife Maggie extended their hand of friendship and their home for us for a few days. As soon as we arrived we were off with Felix to excercise his dogs and do some long tracking training in the beautiful Belgium countryside.
It was here we met the brother of our German bitch, Badboy vom Checkpoint Charlie. His dominance was evident the moment he jumped out of his crate and ran up to investigate us without any hesitation. He isn’t as large a rottweiler as Drago, but he is everybit as dominant and powerful in presence for his size. We have yet to see our bitch, but if she is anything like Badboy then we have something special to bring to Australia.
Whilst in Belgium, Felix introduced us to a man of mystique, Christoph Jorvis. Christoph is a champion handler and breeder of Malinois. His property in Flobecq is a giant training ground where people are constantly bringing their dogs for 20 – 30 minutes of training then a coffee the on to helping the next dog.
The clubhouse is adorned with more trophies than I have seen inside of a trophy shop. Pictures are pinned around the walls and each has a story which Christoph is more than happy to share. He has trained champions, handled champions and bred the hardest Malinois I have ever see. I even had the pleasure of experiencing what an old school Malinois is supposed to work like.
First step was the leg bite overalls. These had such thick and harsh padding that is was almost impossible to walk. There was no way that I would feel anything from a little Malinois.
I positioned myself outside the club house and waited for Christoph to bring Jackie. Jackie is the biggest, most solid and stoic Malinois I have ever seen. I looked in bis eyes and saw complete concentration and clarity. All he wanted was the training overalls I was wearing.
Christoph grabbed Jackie by the scruff and guided him to where my left shin was. Jackie just clamped down on on the pants and the next thing I knew I just felt extreme pressure on my shin bone. I’ve broken bones before and this was worse. Jackie’s grip would go in a cycle or clamping down almost to my shin bone, shacking then relieving pressure.
I don’t think there is a Malinois with this substance in many places in the world. This is a dog of old times. A dog that is to be respected above all things.
While I sat with my coffee afterwards massaging my shin, Christoph was describing his breeding philosophy. A philosophy of breeding by elimination. This he detailed as each breeding only allowing the strongest puppy to be available and used for further breeding. Thereby, after several generatins the strength of the dogs he produced increased dramatically. When he referred to strength, it included the bite needed to win Belgium Ringsport, but also the stability, clarity and above all yhe heart neede to commit to the work the dog was bred for.
In between stories of dogs he had bree and worked, he would light up a cigarette and go putside in the rain to to do clients dogs bite and courage work as well as discipline work. He worked like a master craftsman, readng the dogs body language and adjusting his work flawlessly to benefit the dogs training.
We spent hours over the two days being hosted by Christoph and his family.
After this mystical experience Felix took us to meet Guy Verschatse at his dog equiment shop. To a trainer like me this was like christmas. As Laurie and Guy discussed Rottweiler blood lines, and dogs from decades ago, I did 50 + laps of the shop trying to decide how I would fit everything in out campervan.
Listening to Guy, one could tell he has been in the Rottweiler world almost as long as the Rottweiler has been around. Any name of a rottweiler Laurie would ask him about he knew intimately. I stayed back and listened to the wealth of knowledge between these two as they discussed the different breeding lines, the problems, the power and the great rotti’s of the past.
Eventually Guy and his wife invited us to return to their home, the home of Von Schloss Hexantal Rottweilers, where they showed us their breeding stock, and boy did they have some powerful dogs that were also beautiful. It was evident that Guy worked hard to produce dogs of great strength and beauty, a difficult feat to achieve.
We eventually retired to their living room where we were introduced to Westmalle, a delicious 9% beer, that was delicious. Did I mention it was delicious.
Guy soon warmed up to these two weird Aussies in shorts and statted bringing out photo’s and pedigree papers of the freat rottweilers of old. He has an extremely valuable collection of the breeding lines of working rottweilers.
The next day was another day spent with Christoph, watching his training, hearing more stories before we returned to Felix’s for dinner and an interview with Felix (a link to the video will be posted once it is up)
It was an absolute pleasure visiting Belgium and being welcomed as if we were old friends by Felix, Christoph and Guy.
Part 3: Holland