The Downfall of German Shepherds and the Uprising of Belgian Malinois



Who wouldn’t want to have a puppy throw up in their lap about halfway through an hour long drive to get back home from picking him up? For my tenth birthday my present was a German shepherd, and I named him Striker due to the bowling party that I would be having the next day. I have always been fascinated with the breed, and that fascination only grew after Striker’s premature death in 2012.

The average life expectancy for a German shepherd is ten-twelve years. I received Striker for my birthday in 2007, and came home from school to find that he had passed in 2012. I have always wondered why his life was shorter than it should have been, with regular veterinarian visits and no noticeable shifts in his behavior. Last year I had the opportunity to construct a contrast paper on any subject of my choosing. After finding out that the Belgian Malinois is a very similar breed to a German shepherd, I decided to write my contrast paper on the two breeds. Through the research I conducted to write the contrast paper I found that the area with the most difference between the two breeds is that of health concerns. There are many different health issues that can rise in a German shepherd including hip related issues, knee and ankle problems, shoulder problems, etc. The health risks are partly to blame for the shift in popularity to the Belgian Malinois.

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be in the veterinary field, with my fascination of German shepherds being part of what led me to the field. I have recently been obtaining volunteer hours at a veterinary clinic as a requirement to apply for a veterinarian technician program. One of the days that I was at the office a family brought in their German shepherd. The veterinarian had me assist her with the patient throughout the process of an annual visit. After the family left, the veterinarian began a conversation with me about the breed. She told me about more of the health concerns involved with the breed including gastric imbalances, many different sight insufficiencies, and degradation of nerve cells. Most of the concerns arose during the times when they were being overbred due to the influence of Rin Tin Tin, the German shepherd who became a role model for the breed and induced the rising popularity of the breed. That day was the first I had heard of Rin Tin Tin. She continued to tell me about how she believes that the strain placed on the breed through the use of K-9 units contributed to the rise of the health concerns, and she believes that the same thing may happen to the Belgian Malinois.

The annotated bibliography below includes four intermingling writings. Susan Orlean is driven by her interest in how the influence of Rin Tin Tin has effected the American culture. Orlean promotes inspiration in others with her intensive study of Rin Tin Tin, including Heller McAlpin. Kristen Grieshaber found interest in the shift from German shepherd to Belgian Malinois’. Grieshaber would most likely be intrigued by Orleans works due to being able to have yet another reason leading to the shift. Benton Smith, who is drawn to the daily life of a Belgian Malinois as a canine officer, would more than likely find Orlean, McAlpin, and Grieshaber’s works to be good background information for his interest in the canine unit.


Annotated Bibliography


Grieshaber, Kristen. “German Police Phasing Out Namesake German Shepherd Dogs;                                Belgian Variety More Suitable.” Canadian Press, The (n.d.) Newspaper Source Plus.                       Web. 11 Apr. 2016.


Grieshaber reports simply on the shift from German shepherds to Belgian Malinois as the primary breed used in canine units. She takes the statements from different people involved in the subject to come up with some reasons that this may be happening. Some of the reasons found are that Malinois are more protective, mobile, and may stay in service longer. Nothing negative is said about German Shepherds; however, it states that Malinois are the better investment.


McAlpin, Heller. “Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend.” Christian Science Monitor 27 Sept.                          2011: N.PAG. Academic Search Premier. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.


McAlpin tells of the journey of Susan Orlean, an American journalist, through her fascination with Rin Tin Tin. Rin Tin Tin was a German shepherd who was found by Lee Duncan and served as the mascot of World War II, an income source for Duncan, and a loyal friend to Duncan. Rin Tin Tin becomes a model for the breed, and encourages the use of German shepherd in the K-9 Corps. McAlpin speaks on how involved and consumed Orlean was in her work on the subject and how many benefits came from her work ranging from cultural icons to the film industry. McAlpin is surprised by what endures in the American culture, and the repercussions of such phenomenon.


Orlean, Susan. “Why German Shepherds have had Their Day.” New York Times, Late Edition                       (East Coast) ed. Oct 09 2011. ProQuest. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.


Orlean wrote an op ed piece for the New York Times on how the media has influenced an epidemic of breeding has created many problems for German shepherds. She tells of how German Shepherds becoming the face of World War II, and becoming a factor in the media due to Rin Tin Tin, an overbreeding force was placed on the breed. This overbreeding created many health issues to arise in the breed. Overbreeding became such a problem that the best thing that could happen for the breed would be a downfall, which is exactly what happened. The Belgian Malinois began to overtake the popularity and use of the German Shepherds. She also makes the powerful point that people need to stop following the media when it comes to animals because after there is a release of a movie with a dog as a lead, then there is a spike in the want for that breed of dog in the public. Often the owners may come to find that they liked the dog better in the movie than in their house, which adds to the crowding in animal shelters.


Smith, Benton. “24 Hours in the Life of a K-9 Unit.” Times-News, The (Twin Falls, ID) 06                           Aug. 2015: Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 11 Apr. 2016

Smith tells the schedule of a day with Jeske handling Drago, a Belgian Malinois. Smith writes down the extensive hourly details of a twenty-four hour period that Drago performs. The dog is required to obtain at least sixteen hours of training a month on top of his duty hours. Drago is often spread thin because he is the only canine on duty during his shift. Drago is down for the night by 9 p.m. and up to begin a new day full of work at 4 in the morning.


Why a Hedgehog?

Paul Muldoon writes the poem Hedgehog to portray a hedgehog as one that balls up and hide all of its secrets from the world, unlike a snail that will share its secrets. Muldoon shows an attempt to build trust with the hedgehog so that it will share its secrets; however, the hedgehog does not trust and doesn’t share its secrets.

A person may wonder why Muldoon may have chosen a hedgehog instead of a turtle, hermit crab, armadillo, etc. I believe that Muldoon may have chosen the hedgehog due to its spiky exterior which may seem like it is trying harder to keep others away from it and keep to itself. The hedgehog is also a very timid animal which will ball up into itself due do small amounts of stimuli, and many people associate mistrust with animals or people that may shut themselves off, just as introverts, from the world.

Crappy First Drafts and New Drills

Anne Lamott explains in the chapter “Shitty First Drafts” of her book Bird By Bird that a first draft is very rarely any good. She goes through her own process of writing a review for a restaurant to credit her view on first drafts.

Through reading “Shitty First Drafts” I have made an association with the first time a new drill is introduced to a sports team. I played soccer and high school and when my team first began to practice a new drill it was almost always very sloppy and disorganized. just as a first draft may be sloppy and disorganized. Once our coach would explain the drill again and go through another practice run with us, then the second time we were released to do the drill it went much smoother and more organized, just as a second draft is smoother and more organized. By the third time the drill has been restarted it may be at the point that our coach would accept our performance and release us to get water before moving onto the next drill, just as by the third draft the paper may be ready to be released for others to read.

Can or Should We Really Try to Escape Trump?

After hearing people say that they will move to a different country is Donald Trump is elected president, Garrison Keillor tells of his opinion on the subject. Keillor speaks of how you cannot escape Trump in his article Think moving abroad will save you from Trump? Think again, and even how moving can cause you to be asked about the subject of Trump more often.

Garrison uses an example of going to a foreign country can cause an American to be seen as nothing more than an American. I see this example as powerful due to its ability to discredit any plausible reasons for moving to a different country. Also, Garrison calling Trump “the Great White Snapping Turtle” associates Trump to a seemingly harmless animal that likes to talk. This associations causes you to view Trump differently and possibly see that he isn’t as bad as some people like to portray him. Garrison’s article is powerful and informative, and may be something that many people should read.

Work Cited

Keillor, Garrison. “Garrison Keillor: Think Moving Abroad Will save You from Trump?

Think Again.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2016. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.

A Take on “The Trouble With Online College”

The editorial “The Trouble With Online College” was published on February 18, 2013 in The New York Times. This editorial sets out to denounce the use of online courses using the findings of research on the students taking online courses. The only positive aspect of online courses that the article states is how they may extend the access to education, especially to those who cannot enroll in a seated brick and mortar classroom. All of the other points made in the article are opposing the effectiveness of online courses.

Research was conducted that “has shown over and over again that community college students who enroll in online courses are significantly more likely to fail or withdraw than those in traditional classes, which means that they spend hard-earned tuition dollars and get nothing in return” (The Trouble). Online classes definitely are not for everyone. I believe that online courses get a bad reputation due to unmotivated students taking the course, only to realize that they do not have the skills needed to maintain the course. I myself am commuting to and from Lenoir Rhyne University and having the option to take online courses has been a great help. I do agree that it would be helpful for a student to take some tradition classes along with online classes; however, if taking online courses is the only way that a student can attend college, then the option should be available. Online college courses take a large amount of dedication and the student must remain aware and motivated to the course to be able to succeed.

Although online courses may be more difficult, they allow flexibility with a person’s schedule. A person who has a job, multiple jobs, a family, or any circumstance that makes getting higher education difficult then online courses may be the perfect option, or possibly the only option. For example, a woman who needs a higher education level to be able to help support her family of two children, a working husband, and a part time job to make ends meet may not have a schedule that would fit with offered class times at a college. In this case having online classes would be the only way that her needs could come to fruition. The availability of online courses is a necessity for many people, and a luxury for some such as myself. Taking a few online courses has allowed me to not have to spend unnecessary time on campus, which in turn has allotted me with better job opportunities.

I personally know someone who is taking two online and one hybrid class. He is commuting to a community college, has a part time job, and has to help take care of his siblings.  He is taking music, American history, and the hybrid class is psychology. He believes that the difficulty is dependent on what course it is. For example, he says that a math class would be harder than a music class. He agrees that online classes may be harder than lecture classes; however, with his schedule he would not have been able to go to the campus to participate in lecture classes. He believes that due to his situation having the chance to take the online classes has given him a better chance to get his degree that he otherwise would not have had.

I agree with the statement in the article that “colleges need to improve online courses before they deploy them widely” (The Trouble). Minor critiquing and adjustments to an online course could be the difference between a student passing or failing. At the end of an online class feedback to the instructor could be a large tool in the improvement of online courses. Workshops on how to create an effective and efficient online course could be made available for instructors. When there are high numbers of students needing remedial education, then make having all remedial courses finished as a requirement to be able to take online courses. Many options are available to increase the efficiency of online courses. Along with the courses needing improvement students also need to understand what an online course entails. A student needs to be able to have a good judgement of themselves and whether they can handle taking an online class or not.

According to the article online courses are becoming very popular; however, success rates of online courses are below par. The reading shows us the flaws with online courses, and the inefficiencies among the success rates. Taking the time and money to enhance the proficiency of online courses could benefit the college and the students.

Work Cited

“The Trouble With Online College”. The New York Times. The New York Times Company,                                   18    February 2013. Web. 07 February 2016.

A Look at a Poem by Billy Collins

In Billy Collins’ poem Snow Day, he creates an image of a landscape that has been covered in snow. He then tells of what would be done on a snow day, but can not due to the conditions. The character then listens to the radio and hears the names of the schools that have been closed, and leads into how the children are active in the snow.

Billy Collins’ word choices really stand out in the imaging of the landscape. The use of the words smothered, buried, and blocked may show the paralyzing effect that the snow has portrayed. It gives the sense that most establishments have been shut down; thus, leaving people exposed to unfamiliar elements. The people are left with their house for warmth and comfort, and snow for enjoyment.