Malinois: Max and More

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Kimba, a Belgian malinois military working dog assigned to the 673d Air Base Wing Security Forces Squadron, runs toward an aggressor during a training session on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Aug. 26, 2013. Security Forces Airmen continually train with their K9 counterparts to keep their teams flexible to respond to law enforcement emergencies, and for overseas deployments. (U.S. Air Force photo/Justin Connaher)


Max and More

You’ve seen the movie, Max, and are awed at the capabilities of military working dogs and maybe Belgian malinois, in particular. You’re thinking about adopting a military working dog or adding a malinois to your family because they seem like such amazing dogs. Here are some things that you should know before you start your journey looking for a new family member.

Malinois training with handlerMalinois are often called maligators, for a reason, by those who know and love them. This is a brilliant breed for working and especially for hard hitting, high energy work, like military or police work. They are not, in general, a good companion breed and certainly not a dog that you can ignore and stick out in the back yard. Some people says malinois is French for “Don’t Get One”, at least if you are not an experienced owner and don’t plan to spend hours daily working with your dog.

These dogs require a serious job and if they don’t have a job, they will find one. Their job description may include things such as: shred the couch, chew the door off the hinges, rip up the carpet – which is probably more in line with a demolition crew than the pet you thought you were bringing home.

This is not to say these dogs aren’t brilliant, they are. But, they are high drive, active and require a dedicated, experienced owner who is committed to their education, which means that being away significant amounts of the day, doesn’t work well for this breed. If you find a breeder who is content with selling a dog to a novice without asking tons of questions, s/he’s not the breeder for you. Ethical breeders will want to be sure their high drive dogs go to a working home that is a perfect match.

Those who love malinois are concerned that people will ignore the realities of malinois ownership and buy one anyway. If you are still thinking about adding this breed to your home, please do enough research to answer your questions. Here is a good link.

Many malinois end up in rescue because they are not what the novice owner thought they were getting. If you’re interested in a rescue malinois, check out this link:

And, if you’re interested in adopting a retired military working dog, please go directly to the source at Lackland AFB. The dog disposition unit is at Lackland and they coordinate all of the adoptions- so please don’t call individual kennels and interrupt their important training. There is no fee for adopting a retired dog, but you are responsible for transport and healthcare. This is the easiest way to get your name on a list. You can begin the adoption process by completing and submitting the required paperwork application at this link:

Thanks to the DoD for the images.

A powerful photo.

US Marine Corps Cpl. Brandon Mann with automatic scope and canine partner Ty.

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brandon Mann uses his automatic rifle’s scope to scan the area while providing security with his military working dog, Ty, around the villages of Sre Kala and Paygel in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 17, 2012. Mann, a military working dog handler, and Ty, an improvised explosive device detection dog, are assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.   DoD photo by Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)

Lucca K458 More photos to accompany Kennel Talk story in September issue

Lucca and Chris on a search and knock

Photos immediately above and below by SrA Eric Harris.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Chris Willingham, assigned to the U.S. Army's 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, rewards his dog, Lucca
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Chris Willingham, assigned to the U.S. Army’s 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, rewards his dog, Lucca, after finding a training aid in a training house at Camp Diwaniyah, Iraq, Feb. 18, 2009. Willingham and his fellow dog handlers joined soldiers from the 8th Division Iraqi Army for a training day in order to help the Iraqi soldiers get comfortable working with dogs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris/Released)

Lucca at the beach

Lucca’s new life.

Rodriguez Lucca and Willingham a

Lucca and the two important men in her life.

Lucca enjoying the gardens

Lucca exploring her new life.

These photos are additional photos that go with the story about Lucca in the September issue of Kennel Talk. If you haven’t received your copy, you may register for a free subscription at

A Memorial to Joshua R. Ashley

Corporal Joshua R. Ashley, United States Marine Corps, 23, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, died July 19, 2012, while conducting combat operations near Zombalay, in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

He was assigned to 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

John Ashley, Joshua’s father, said his son was killed by hostile enemy action — the victim of an improvised explosive device. Corporal Ashley was with his military dog Sirius, a 4-year-old female German Shepherd, when he was killed. MWD Sirius is accounted for and survived the incident.

Thank you to the VDHA for sharing this Memorial information.

“Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share. ”
– Ned Dolan

A Memorial to Keaton G. Coffey

Sgt. Keaton Coffee and his kanine partner Denny

Cpl. Keaton G. Coffey, 22, of Boring, Ore., was killed on May 24 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province. He only had three weeks left on his tour during his second deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed. He was scheduled to return back to his base, Camp Pendleton.

Coffey’s dog, Denny, survived.Keaton G. Coffey was an only child and was engaged to be married July 14 to Brittany Dygert, whom he met through his mother.

He  was assigned to 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, 1st Marine Headquarters Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

Fellow Marines spoke of Coffey’s kindness, passion for his work, commitment and the natural abilities that helped him excel as a dog handler with his canine partner, Denny.

His former principal at the Damascus Christian School described Coffey as “every parent’s dream.”

He was the student body president during his senior year.  A former teacher said that Coffey planned eventually to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a firefighter. His father spent more than 35 years at Portland Fire and Rescue.

MWDTSA was supporting this unit in Afghanistan when we learned of his loss though our Point of Contact.  This was devastating for all of his fellow Marines as they had already been through so much together.  Our hearts go out to his fiancee, family, friends and the entire K9 community.

Rest in Peace, young Marine.

Many thanks to our friends at the VDHA for their help on the photo and this memorial info.

A Memorial to Lance Cpl. William Crouse IV

Lance Cpl. William H. Crouse IV and his detection dog Cane.

Lance Cpl. William H. Crouse IV, 22, was killed in action Dec. 21, 2010, along with his detection dog Cane by an IED in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was from Woodruff, S.C., attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Regiment from Camp Lejeune, N.C. Reports were that even as he lay dying, Lance Cpl. Crouse demanded that his wounded dog be put into the Medevac helicopter with him. They were evacuated together, but both died.

Thanks to Dennis Herrick for sharing his memorial with MWDTSA.

A Memorial to Colton Rusk

Marine PFS Colton Rusk & MWD Eli

Marine Pfc. Colton Rusk, 20, was shot on Dec. 6, 2010, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, I Marine Expeditionary Force based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, he was only six weeks into his first deployment. His dog, Eli, a black Laborador retriever, was not injured. Eli had crawled on top of Pfc. Rusk’s body during the firefight to shield him. The Defense Department allowed Pfc. Rusk’s family to adopt Eli.

Rest in peace, young Marine.

Thanks to Dennis Herrick for sharing his memorial information.

Helmand Province 2nd Recon

Marine, second Reconnaissance Battalion, and MWD.

Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – A Marine with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), follows his military working dog on patrol. The Marines conducted hundreds of dismounted and mounted patrols through their six months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Courtesy Photo by Cpl. Marco Mancha)

A Memorial to Jeffrey Standfest

Cpl Jeffrey Steadfast

Cpl. Jeffrey R. Standfest, 23, was killed in action June 16, 2010, in an IED explosion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Cpl. Standfest was a dog handler with the 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Cpl. Standfest had recently suffered a concussion in an IED explosion that killed his first dog. He had returned to duty with a new dog looking for more IEDs when he and that dog were killed. He was a native of St. Clair, Mich.

Thanks to Dennis Herrick of the VDHA for sharing this memorial.

A Memorial to Adam Cann

Sgt. Adam L. Cann

Sgt. Adam L. Cann, 23, died trying to protect his fellow soldiers and civilians at a police recruitment center on Jan. 5, 2006, at Ramadi, Iraq. When his dog Bruno became agitated by the scent of explosives, according to witnesses, Sgt. Cann confronted a suicide bomber, who then detonated a vest. Bruno was wounded but recovered. Sgt. Cann had served a combat tour in Afghanistan and was on his second tour in Iraq. He was attached to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force. He was from Davie, Fla. Sgt. Cann was the first U.S. dog handler killed since the Vietnam War. The Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, named the base’s kennel the “Adam L. Cann K-9 Facility” in Sgt. Cann’s honor

This is the first of several memorials that I will be placing on the Blog. I’ve personally always had trouble writing about our Handlers and Dogs who have died because I feel it can be very intrusive on the families and we certainly want to show them respect. Fortunately for me, Dennis Herrick, the editor of DOGMAN, with whom I have have shared some of my articles, did me the courtesy of sharing a gracious and respectful set of memorials with me. They will be posted on the Blog one at a time. With each posting, I hope you will remember the team, the handler’s family and friends who still mourn and the military family left to mourn a loss of their own.

With deep respect,