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Spirit Ridge K9 Training & Rescue  

 “from simple beginnings come great dogs”. 

G' Tango von Arek ("Tango") - Rescued Aug 22, 2009;     Re-homed November 27, 2009   

FINAL Update (December 4, 2009): "Tango" was adopted into her 'fur-ever' home on November 27, 2009.  Greg and Sonia of Toronto have now taken over from us as custodians of this wonderful Malinois girl.

During his research to find the right breed and the right dog, Greg stumbled upon one of the articles I had written for the Belgian Shepherd Dog Club of Canada ( that allowed him to follow the link back to our website.  There, he found the write-up about 'Tango' that piqued his interest.  From there on in, both Greg and Sonia contacted us, met with Tango and went through a detailed review of her temperament, demonstration of her obedience and play activities and were given a list of "Do's and Don'ts" intended to make the potential transition smoother.

Greg and Sonia were very quick studies.  They proved, once again, that humans who 'get it' and understand the differences between dogs and humans (particularly as these relate to the dogs' needs which vary significantly than those of humans) make exceptional handlers - even if they are not experienced.  Within an hour, both Greg and Sonia were well on their way to being able to address Tango's needs.

Although they hid it well during the first meeting and although I am positive they would have preferred to just hug and squeeze Tango to death (that's how cute she is), they held their feelings and abundant energy in control, carefully and quietly allowed the initial bond to take place in a subdued and low energy environment and gradually took over the reigns during our first three hour meeting and introductory session.

Following their departure, it took less than half a day for Greg and Sonia to get back to us regarding taking Tango as their new dog.  Now, 'princess' Tango lives in the Sunnybrook area in Toronto and can be seen to proudly strut her stiff during the frequent walks she gets. We believe that other than for visits and 'sleep overs' to make sure that she gets her fill of her K9 buddy 'Sonic' we believe that Tango is now in her 'fur-ever' home.  The picture below, taken at the end of their first meeting, shows how comfortable Tango is with her new 'pack'.


An update from Greg and Sonia regarding Tango's initial adjustment and progress (December 15, 2009):

"Tango's only been with us for a few weeks but it feels like we've been together forever.  
We start every day by feeding my fish.  Tango visits every tank and watches them feed.  For the fish who don't appreciate the attention, she makes a point of staring at them until they dart about in agitation or hide among the plants.  I have to clean nose prints off the glass before we leave for our morning walk.  
We go for long walks to burn off energy and let Tango get used to the neighborhood.  She's beginning to recognize other dogs and their owners.  She's made friends with Duke the Labrador puppy, Shadow the Golden Retriever and the cocker spaniel who lives across from the school yard where we play with the Chewber.  General the Bulldog was initially a good friend but Tango tried to steal his beloved tennis ball over the weekend.  We will have to wait until the next encounter to see whether the General holds a grudge.   I don't think she likes Elvis the Maltese since he follows closely behind us and yaps a lot.  She has never liked the brown dog around the corner who barked at her when Jim brought her to us.  In fact she tried to attack the statue on his lawn when we last walked by.
When we're at home she is always interested in anything unusual.  Like home repairs.  Or the squirrels and chipmunk who cross our yard or linger on our deck to enjoy the afternoon sun.  We're still laughing about her first encounter with the glass patio door.  Lucky for her she has good brakes.  We're told that the nail marks on our slate floor will fade the next time we apply a cleaner. 
She really "hams" it up for visitors.  She puts her head on someone's knee and and looks up at them with sad eyes.  Everyone showers her with affection even though they have just watched her put on the same routine for everyone else in the room.  Sonia and I just shake our heads.   
Sonia and I feel blessed to have Tango in our lives.  We owe much to the people who have shaped her over the past four years.  Her breeder produced a dog with a bombproof temperament that enables her to meet life with confidence and intelligence, Her previous owner brought out the sociable, attentive and fun loving side of the dog who shares our lives today.  Jim and Suzanne taught Tango to channel her energy and gave us the equivalent of a Berlitz course in speaking "dog" (which in Tango's case is not to be confused with any language spoken in Belgium). "


"Tango" is a Belgian Malinois who has been with us since August 22nd.  As of October 22nd, we have made the determination that she is ready to be adopted out to the right household.  As with all potential adoptive families, an adoption form must be filled out prior to us considering the candidate home.  The main benefit of adopting a dog from us here at Spirit Ridge K9 Training & Rescue is that no dog leaves us without having a thorough and complete behavioural assessment.  Nothing is a surprise when adopting from us.  All dogs come with a complete set of instructions and rules that, if followed, will lead to a great bonding experience with the adoptive dog.  We stand behind our adoptions and there is an ongoing communication and assistance in making the transition smooth and without unpleasant surprises.

If you are interested in receiving the adoption form OR meeting this wonderful dog in person, such a meeting can be arranged by appointment.  Please e-mail us  or call: (519) 855-6962.

'Tango' (formal CKC registered name G'Tango Von Arek) was born on January 29, 2006 came to Spirit Ridge K9 Training & Rescue on August 22nd, 2009.

Tango is a purebred, spayed, Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) registered Belgian Malinois who, through no fault of her own, wound up in need of a new temporary home due to a marital split up.  Unfortunately, the very same reason prohibited his breeder ('Arek Malinois') from taking her back.

As a result, Spirit Ridge K9 Training & Rescue has stepped in to give her a temporary home - particularly since one of our own dogs ('Sonic' Boom) comes from the very same breeder.

Information about Tango
Tango is a very sweet and loveable girl - not an intimidating dog - that weighs a very fit 57 lbs.  She gets overexcited when meeting humans and thus suffers from the 'wiggle butt' syndrome when humans initially engage her.  When she initially came to us, she had little respect for human space and would jump up on anyone.  Within a few hours, we eradicated this bad habit - she is, without a doubt, a quick study!  In order to keep her excitement at a manageable level, we keep all meetings with humans low key and she is responding positively to this approach.

When she arrived, she had very little formal obedience but since then, she is improving daily.  Her heeling is nearly impeccable, her sits/downs are continuously improving and we are currently working on increasing the reliability of her 'stays'.  She is extremely toy and food motivated which makes training her both a joy and a breeze.  All she wants to do is please and responds very well to quiet, calm praise.

She is superb at greeting other dogs and, so far, she has met over 10 different dogs (including all five of our own plus some clients' dogs) and has displayed great K9 social skills - respectful, non threatening and not 'off the charts'. Not a single dog has taken exception to her energy level - which means she is doing something right in this regard!

Tango has shown zero fear of any unexpected loud noises, movements, sounds etc and has already been on the treadmill twice during her first three days here with us.  She is up to a 7 minute walk and I predict that she will be doing regular 30 minute workouts before long.

I have tested her with her food, toys and 'high value' chewies and this dog has no resource guarding issues. 

To this point, she has only shown some difficulty quietly accepting her crate - she had not seen one since she was under a year of age.  Since crate training is an integral requirement of re-homing any dog for us, we are continuously working on this.  She now sleeps through the night in her crate only occasionally starting to bark if she hears noises that wake her up.  I believe that this will inevitably stop and she will become very comfortable in her crate - particularly since her best treats 'happen' in the crate.

Health Information
Tango was vaccinated on August 21st, 2009 and is good for at least another year (3 years for rabies, parvo etc).

When she was 13 months old, Tango broke her rear left femur and underwent surgical repair with pins inserted to assist in the healing.  I am pleased to report that there is no visible effect and one would not know from her movement that this has ever happened.  She has been cleared for regular physical activity and I suspect that, once her obedience gets to a certain level, our agility instructor will start to 'work' her on our agility equipment. 

We have a complete record of all her veterinary visits and vaccinations - in addition to her CKC registration papers and breeding lines.  This, of course, is a rarity for a 'rescue' - usually we have no clue of a dog's past when we take a rescue in. The records, her CKC registration papers and vaccination certificates will follow her to her new adoptive home when the adoption occurs.

The Profile of the Perfect Adoptive Home
Based on my assessment of Tango during the past few days, I can safely describe the perfect adoptive home as follows:

The perfect home for Tango would be one that includes no 'couch potato'.  An active family that, in spite the presence of children, has time to dedicate to Tango's needs and not just fill the humans' needs is a must.  A family that owns a treadmill is also a must for those cold winter days that Tango does not get her structured walks.  By the time Tango leaves Spirit Ridge, her daily routine will include between 20 to 30 minutes on the treadmill - this will need to be continued in order to address her basic needs to discharge that Malinois energy.

Tango is able to negotiate other dogs in a household as long as the household is one that is not ruled by the dogs, chaos or out-of-control children (or adults, lol).  She has shown very little interest in chasing cats but this cannot be confirmed at this time as she has only been exposed to one stationary cat and there was no movement involved.

The humans in Tango's new home will have some experience in firm obedience, not use the high pitch, squeaky baby-like voice that humans often use with dogs when communicating with them.  This voice is more associated with prey in the dog's mind rather than leaders.  There will be structured walks and not just ball throwing which physically tires a dog out but does nothing to tire them out mentally.  There will be no permission to jump on the humans (or couches, beds, chairs etc) and they will claim their own space and teach Tango to respect it by not giving in to her tendency (which is already extinguishing itself anyhow, but may flare up in a new home - old habits are hard to die off!).  The order of interaction will be "exercise, discipline and affection" (as Cesar Millan - the Dog Whisperer - would say) in that particular order of importance.  Reversing the order is what gets humans in trouble with their dogs!

If the new handlers are interested in starting out in agility, this dog could wind up being a star but regular obedience classes and/or Rally Obedience classes and creating a working, respectful bond first are a must.

Adoption Fee
There will be a nominal fee of $150.00 for Tango's adoption.  This fee will go to support our rescue efforts in the future.  The new adoptive family will also sign a transfer agreement that includes the obligation to return Tango to Spirit Ridge in the event the re-homing does not work out as well as an undertaking to join a group obedience or Rally Obedience class as soon as possible.  This girl will never see the threshold of a shelter as long as we can help it!

The adoptive family will undergo an extensive two hour private session here at Spirit Ridge (covered by the adoption fee) that will include an interview with us, explicit instructions on do's and don'ts, and hands-on handler work that will include what needs to be done from the adoption date forward. 

Given that Tango's placement will not be taken lightly, we will also expect progress reports and updates on 'our' sweet girl.  This is an exceptional dog and we will expect nothing but the best for her!  Failing that, Tango will have a home with us here at Spirit Ridge for as long as it takes to get it right and find her 'fur-ever' home.

Further updates on her progress will posted here as time goes by.

Jim Tsitanidis
K9 Trainer & Behavioural Consultant

UPDATE: October 11, 2009
"Tango" has been making great strides since joining us on August 22nd.  Her obedience training has been going very well and she responds reliably to all basic commands. 

She is now up to a 40 minute treadmill routine and, through positive re-enforcement, has learned to both like the exercise and look forward to it.

I can also safely say that clipping her nails is a breeze - it takes less than 2 minutes to do it.

Brushing her teeth is a bit more difficult and she has resisted this somewhat.  However, after perseverance on my part, she has resigned to accepting it and now partially opens her mouth.  This continues to be work-in-progress.

She has - what we like to say in the industry - 'nerves of steel'.  Unexpected sounds, noises and/or thunder do not phase or surprise her.

It is routine for us to train all of our dogs to wear a muzzle in good times - so that when an emergency or need arises, they don't 'freak out' by wearing it for the first time.  Through positive motivation, "Tango" has now been wearing the muzzle at various times of the day for up to 5 minutes.  This also continues to be work-in-progress.

'Tango' has also improved immensely in her crate - the barking has been limited to occasions when an outside sound stimulates her.  Clearly, the more energy-drained and fatigued she is from being worked, the less anxious she is staying in her crate.  She has now graduated to having soft bedding in it and is not anxious to the point of shredding it as some dogs are accustomed to doing.  She readily and willingly goes into her carte when the door is open and is calm enough to watch the other dogs in our pack wander around without whining and/or making noises.

Finally, she continues to show great social K9 skills when hanging out with our own five dogs - which she routinely romps around with .. NOTE: in a typical "mali-gator" fashion, when chasing and playing, Tango shows her teeth (smiles) and snaps them.  This can "freak out" someone who is not used to it but the dogs know that it is just play posturing and take no exception to it.

    Tango's first day at Spirit Ridge - Aug 22, 09             Tango mastering the treadmill at Spirit Ridge

Spirit Ridge's Sonic (Boom) left & Tango right after a romp together
(August 26, 2009)