Dog Tales – Part 2
Torin was my first Belgian Tervuren. How did I pick that breed? Well, if you know me, it was through careful research. I had gone to several dog shows to watch the obedience competitions and happened to see some Groenendals, the black variety of the breed. I took an interest in them and soon found that the Belgian sheepdog was everything I wanted in a dog; smart, affectionate to its family, guardy, and medium sized. I started to visit some local Groenendal breeders and really liked the dogs but then I met my first Tervuren. I was enamored immediately.
I should explain one thing, in Canada, the four varieties of the Belgian Shepherd dog are considered as one breed. In the USA they are separate. During the time I had Torin and Kyah, the breed name in Canada was also changed from Belgian sheepdog to Belgian shepherd dog.
Torin was a very special dog. He was a lovely example of a Belgian Sheepdog in both conformation and temperament. Smart, loyal, and strong willed yet very sensitive; he was a lot of dog. This is a breed that can do poorly in a family that doesn’t handle that strength of will well. Like any alpha male, Torin didn’t hesitate to get bossy if he sensed and easy mark. He really did have a great temperament. When I was teaching Puppy Kindergarten I could take him with me, not only to be my ‘demo dog’ but also to play with the bully type puppies who were a bit full of themselves. He would invite them to play and very effectively put them in their place when they tried any of the pushy maneuvers that would scare or quash the smaller, younger, or less confident puppies.
I wanted to buy a purebred of good conformation because I wanted to try conformation showing and thought I might want to do obedience and tracking trials in the future. I found a breeder of good repute in Vernon BC and got on the waiting list for a puppy. The litter was born on January 10th 1992 and I couldn’t wait to get my puppy. I decided to travel to Vernon in March because I could combine it with a visit with my parents. The picture below is one of my favorites. That is my Dad, holding an eight week old Torin, in the hotel room we stayed at in Vernon. Terv puppies are so cute because their solid black face makes it hard to see their eyes.
Torin’s sire and dam are shown below. There were both American and Canadian champions and a bunch of other things. His sire, known as Muku, was from the Van de hoge laer kennel in Belgium. Years later, long after Torin had passed away, I had an opportunity to take a business trip to the Netherlands and during my spare time, visited the kennel in Belgium where this line was from. It was very interesting to see the differences between their approach to conformation and breeding as compared to the North American approach. To say they hold us in disdain would be about right. 🙂
Can/Am Ch Starwind’s Belique at Atim CD BAR
CH Muke Van de Hoge laer BAR
The pictures below are to show my friend Ariel how cute the baby Belgian ears are. Looks like they are pinned together! That is a normal part of their development. As they grow their ears separate and the mahogany in their mask comes along.
The picture below shows a young Torin trying with all his might to the get the frisbee from his buddy Cato.
I started showing Torin when he was six months old. He earned his championship when he was nine months old at the Canadian Belgian Sheepdog Club Breed specialty in Red Deer. That was on November 7, 1992.
Torin was fanatical for frisbee and would just about kill himself to run to whereever it was thrown, leap up, and catch it in his mouth.
In 1992 Cato passed away and in 1993 Kyah came to live with us. I got divorced from my first husband in 1994 so it was just me and the two Belgians in the family. We were much happier. We went for a road trip to the coast with my Mom around that time. Here we are at my sister’s house in Victoria.
Torin was killed by a passing truck on November 7, 1995. In many ways I blame myself for his death. In the previous year he had developed an unstoppable compulsion to chase things. He’d chase cars given the opportunity, birds, cattle, and even, while out walking at night, he’d chase the full moon. I always walked him on leash unless we were in a remote place. On this particular November evening I had taken him and Kyah for a walk along the river road near our place. This was a gravel road from nowhere to nowhere and we often went for a run there because there was no traffic and there were a couple of coyotes living along the river that the dogs loved to chase. Call me bad but you’ve never seen such unholy glee in a dog’s eyes as when its doing something that is so much fun. It was a great way to ensure that the two of them lot a lot of exercise in a very short time too. We rarely ever saw a vehicle on that road. On that night, the dogs were running along the river bank when I saw a car coming. I called them to me and held them at the side of the road. I waited till the car was beyond us then let them go. Kyah started off back to the River but Torin took off after the car. He was an incredibly fast dog and got right up to the car. Just as he got up beside it, on the driver’s side, a truck came the other way and ran him right over. The truck stopped and the guy driving got out to help me. He lent me his cell phone and I called my vet to say I’d be bringing Torin in. In the space of that phone call he died. That was utterly heartbreaking. That was quite a few years ago and I mourned him for a long time.