Friday, March 8, 2013

What I think of Michael Vick's New Dog

I'm sure you know by now that Michael Vick has a new dog. Angel. He brought her to PetSmart for training! Ooh. Ahhh. Accompanied by his bodyguard, apparently. Perhaps a good move on his part.

It's legal. Nobody can do anything about it. We just have to hope that he does well by Angel. People are keeping an eye, evidently, so maybe that will help.

Dogster.com ran an article about it (linked above), and in the comments I expressed my surprise that he'd selected a Belgian Malinois, typically used as Military Working dogs, police dogs, or for the sport of Schutzhund, and wondered at his plans for said dog. Somebody called me idiotic, which I thought was extra classy (I guess they don't moderate their comments. Though, all in all, this is the Internet. If being called idiotic makes me take my toys and go home, I should seek other hobbies). That individual wondered if I believed any "civilian" should receive that sort of scrutiny when selecting a Malinois. Well, maybe. But civilian isn't my keyword here.

(public domain picture of a Malinois from Wikipedia)


Belgian Malinois are a working breed much like Dobermans in that, if an individual dog is from a working line, the dog can be highly intelligent, very energetic, and possessed of a high drive. Individuals unprepared for the sort of persistent energy that a dog like that is willing to bring to the table may become frustrated and overwhelmed very quickly. Puppies like that (the Dogster article says she's a puppy) can be very very mouthy (it's part of the point), and need constant management for their frenetic brains. Puppies like that can be very destructive in the house, and very vocal. There is generally discussion of puppies like that "needing a job", which is why they do so well as MWD, K9s, and in Schutzhund and other sports.

So, with a person like Michael Vick, who has already displayed poor decision making skills with regards to animals in his care, do I think a Malinois is a good fit? No. Do I think he should have any dog? No. But he's allowed. And he picked a working breed.

I in fact wonder who it was entrusted a dog to his care. I'm fairly certain no rescue and no reputable breeder would do such a thing, which leaves pet stores and puppy mills. This does not speak well for the socialization and potential temperament of his Malinois. If you've got dogs in little cages that you're just kind of throwing together to make puppies, there's no telling what you're actually producing. And owners buying such dogs are not experienced enough to know what they should be looking for in a breed, and how to handle potential problems. Typically. Obviously, few things are set in stone. As evidenced by Michael Vick having a dog in his care. Again.

I wish Angel the best. I hope that Vick truly does want to do good work for animal welfare, and that he has taken the lesson to heart. I hope this dog lives a long and happy life and never knows fear or abuse. I hope Vick's children grow up with a good example of how to raise a dog in your home. So many people are watching and angry; I really want to see Vick prove us wrong and not make his mistakes again.

38 comments:

  1. I agree. I hope Vick shows us that he has changed. I won't be holding my breath, but I know that there are numerous organizations that would take Angel at the first sign of neglect/abuse.

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    1. Really, it would be nice if he proved everybody wrong. I would LOVE that, in fact.

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  2. I can't believe anyone would give him a dog, if not because they thought he was the last person who should have one, then because I'd be afraid the public would learn it was me!

    I agree with you ten thousand percent. We have a working dog in our house, and he would be a nightmare as "just a pet." His brain is firing ALL. THE. TIME! We don't even open the refrigerator in front of him, and I'm not joking about that. His brain works in overdrive and he lives to work and play. I adore him, and he is very sweet tempered, but he's like the Energizer Bunny. He's on the go all the time and we're just lucky enough to harness his power for good. I've met quite a few Mals through my husband's SAR work, and I love them, but I wouldn't have one in our house, because they make Kuster look calm. They are drivey and highly intelligent, and they earn the nickname of Maligators! The teeth on those little furballs are wicked weapons of mass destruction!

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    1. I wonder too, who it was. And I wonder if they're afraid of people finding out as well, though it's clearly been kept under SUPER wraps.

      I consider us lucky that Elka wasn't a higher drive dog! I'm not sure we would have lived through her puppyhood.

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    1. Me too :(

      I do still hope for the happy ending.

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  4. I am with you on this 100% having some of the same thoughts since reading about this... We can only hope for the best and the knowledge that what he does with Angel will be scrutinized and maybe that will keep her safe and well cared for. You want to believe people can learn from their mistakes, lets hope Vick proves the skeptics wrong.

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    1. I do hope that he proves us wrong!

      I've never met the man or spoken to him, but my impression has been that what he considers to be the mistake is that he got caught, not the rest of the things. So maybe he's learned about that too now, with a dog in his house. Angel could turn him around, who knows.

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  5. all what I can say: I wish the best for Angel - from the bottom of my heart. Thanks for informing me about the news - have a wonderful Friday ;o)

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    1. I wish the best for Angel as well! I hope she's loved, and has a long and happy life.

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  6. I find it difficult to even think about this. Of course, I wish the best for the puppy... and I suspect the HSUS may have had a hand in how Vick got his puppy. I know it is "small" and hateful of me, but I still believe that Vick should not even be allowed around children, let alone have a dog.

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    1. I kind of wonder about that as well. I wonder how his wife feels about what he's gone through, and what they have or haven't said to the children. I'm not sure I could stay somebody who did what he did, and raise children with them.

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  7. What I'm most amazed at is that someone called you an "idiot" for expressing your thoughts on this. And I agree, who gave him the dog in the first place? I doubt it was a breeder or a rescue either, for the same reason he has to go to Petsmart for classes. I bet they'd get sued if they told him "no," where I bet small trainers just didn't answer his calls...

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    1. Well, it's the Internet. I could've been called worse, certainly ;)

      I wonder if the Petsmart schtick is for the publicity; "leaked" photos, so people see how responsible he's being.

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  8. Hopefully that piece of poop has others around him who will give Angel the needed care, training and activity. The fact that he was allowed to get a dog is horrific to me.

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    1. Really, I'm glad that he has taken her to Petsmart, so that people see her, see how they are together, etc. I haven't seen anything videod, which would be interesting to see.

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  9. Very well said. I admire your composure. When I read he had a dog -- a malinois no less -- everything I said was R rated.

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    1. Oh, I'm sure I said some bad things. But I do feel I'm more articulate when writing ;)

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  10. We feel sorry for the pup
    Benny & Lily

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    1. I kind of do too. Somebody with Michael Vick's money could do better than Milkbones (per the "leaked photo" in October) and Petsmart, past abuse notwithstanding. I hope he gives her the BEST life possible, out of spite.

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  11. I think he's already off to a wrong start by taking that particular breed of dog to Petsmart for training. Perhaps no reputable, effective trainers wanted to work with him? Or he thought he'd get more attention by taking the dog there instead of hiring a private trainer - "Hey, look at me, I'm a great dog owner! I'm taking my dog to a training class.".

    Ugh. I hope it really works out for the dog, but I'm not very hopeful.

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    1. I do think Petsmart is probably for the attention, as you say. Probably. But, even if he does want the Mal for protection training, the particulars of that don't start until the pups are older and their growth plates closed anyway. I hear tell. I don't actually know.

      But yes. Very hopeful.

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  12. I'm disgusted that he's not in jail, making millions and still a "hero" to some people.

    Some think I'm merciless for "judging" him but he was merciless to his other dogs.

    He shouldn't have a dog.
    He shouldn't be a "hero".
    He shouldn't be walking free.

    My dad was a prison guard for 30+ years.
    Always said that "jailhouse conversions" were BS.

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    1. I think "jailhouse conversions" are possible, but that they're probably fewer and further between than are claimed. The Recidivism rate is pretty high in this country, but there are so many factors that go into everybody's lives.

      I, too, am disgusted that he's making millions again. I'm profoundly disappointed in the Eagles, and in Nike, and whoever else supports and pays him. I don't know what I think he should be doing instead, but it doesn't involve 7 figures.

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    2. I'm not enthusiastic about this either. Has there been any report of whether Angel has been fixed?

      My dad did mention that Vick served the longest sentence ever for the type of crime he committed. That's something... although whether it's accurate, I don't know.

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  13. I can't understand why he insists on drawing attention to himself which this certainly did, and reminding people what kind of sleaze he really is.

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    1. Maybe he's hoping that they've forgotten, the way he'd like to? Maybe he figured enough time had passed since it was found that he had a dog, that people would be worried about where that dog was?

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  14. Sending any dog to a Petsmart trainer makes me wonder about the owner. Of course it will probably turn out that Petsmart paid Vick to train his dog.

    But I don't know that I would go so far as to conclude that the dog came from somewhere other than a reputable breeder. The person who gave the dog may be in a position to oversee how the dog is doing.

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    1. I wouldn't let a convicted pedophile work at a daycare, I wouldn't let somebody with a history of dog abuse have a dog from my breeding. They aren't the same thing, I know, but it is my kneejerk reaction.

      That is an interesting thought, though, that it's somebody who's working with Vick through the steps of ownership.

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  15. Well restrained, reasoned post....a Pit Bull fancier and trainer colleague, who is a major advocate for the breed in MO, told me, horrific as Bad Newz Kennels was once light broke open the dirty secrets, the after-handling of the dogs was one of the best things to happen to Pitties: fighting dogs actually showed they could learn and be pets; only one euthanized, several in long term "care," but most are pets, albeit with knowledgeable families.
    The GOOD happened because strong minded rescues stood up with public support and said, you will NOT make these dogs pay for being victims. The BAD is that Vick now has this lovely, strong minded, focused puppy. There's a reason I have Beagles - they're driven by their noses and are relatively simple dogs. I couldn't do a Malinois justice; I sadly doubt Vick can, either.

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    1. Yes, the Vicktory Dogs and their news coverage has been very positive. I'm glad those dogs have come through to the lives that they do. It was one of the first cases in which seized fighting dogs were not just all euthanized, wasn't it?

      I'm not sure I could do a Malinois justice either! I know that a high drive Doberman would have done me in as my first dog; I could probably get away with somebody a little energetic the next time around.

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  16. I hope he has learned and I know people are watching. I too was surprised at this choice of dogs, who gave him the dog, where he takes it for training and what he feeds it.

    But that's just me, I'm cynical about him.

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    1. You're not alone in your cynicism!

      I'm not sure what kind of a dog I would have chosen for him. I mean, I WOULDN'T have. But I think a shelter dog of indeterminate breed would perhaps have been more appropriate. If anything could be considered appropriate.

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  17. There are mistakes and then there is evil. Torturing and killing dogs in the way he did is far beyond ignorance or error; it is cruel, sociopathic, and evil.

    My only hope is that Vick's desire to appear charming in the public eye will provide this dog some protection.

    (Remy's mom)

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    1. That is my best and most hopeful thought: that he wants to prove all the naysayers wrong, that he can be a normal person with a well cared for dog who lives a long, happy, and healthy life and dies of old age. Charm away, Vick, if it protects Angel.

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  18. I too was horrified to find out that Vick's dog of choice -- supposedly for his childrens' benefit - was a Malinois of all breeds. They are glorious, stunningly intelligent, amazing dogs. But they are not the pet for your kids to play with, they are in need of intensive training, a strong work ethic and a firm and reliable handler. I feel pity for the dog, more anger at Vick's ability to obtain her and a growing fear that there will only be more of a circus around this train-wreck of a situation. And please, God, let me be wrong but I do not see things working out well.

    What was wrong with a good old mixed breed, adopted from his local high-kill shelter?

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    1. Hmmmm. Good point, but probably 90% of the dogs at our neighborhood shelter (in Manhattan) are pits and pit mixes. I might've gone another way too, if I were Vick...although I do love me some pit bulls.

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    2. I kind of wondered about that myself. He'd been so heavy handed (that I could tell) on the "My kids need a dog!", I didn't know why he didn't get a dog for his kids.

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