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From The Mason County Journal, Thursday September 2, 1999
 Stormy is a Different Breed 
by Colin Howser

 


Lying on the ground next to the post office is one hundred pounds of muscle, gray hair, teeth, and claws. Stormy's eyes exude intelligence and heart as he proudly holds the earth in place with his massive body.
 
Stormy is his call name His full name is Hawkridge Tonnerre Doux.  Hawkridge is where he was bred in Alberta, Canada and tonnerre doux means quiet thunder in French.
 
The 5-year old canine stays obediently close to his owners and friends Dennis Brown and Sandi Dunlap, who are concerned about the repercussions on the bouvier world with the new movie A Dog of Flanders in theaters nationwide this week. Dennis is experienced with dogs; he has been training dogs since 1954, when he started with beagles.
 
Stormy is a Bouvier, a breed of dog from Belgium. In fact, in French the dog is called Bouvier des Flandres, meaning literally, cowherd of Flanders.
 
The movie features a Bouvier and a boy as they go on an adventure. Dennis and Sandi said they are concerned that the dog pounds will be full of Bouviers and bad accidents will happen if people who don't understand the Bouvier leave the theater and purchase one of these dogs. The same situation happened after 101 Dalmatians.
 
The movie "is being pushed on Nickelodeon and Animal Planet," Sandi said, "stations that are geared towards kids."
 
"That's our main focus," Dennis said, "to keep the puppy mills and the indiscriminate breeders and the backyard breeders from cranking these guys out."
 
"These are herding-group dogs," Dennis said. "They were bred to guard their property and their plot, just like your Australian cattle dog, your German Shepherd, the Rottweiler."
 
The Bouvier is also a popular guard and police dog.
 
"These are sausage -eatin' beer drinkers," Dennis said. "They are not champagne, foo-foo dogs. They're blue collar workers."
 
[...] Dennis and Sandi said that a Bouvier needs a lot of attention , constant training, and strong-willed, educated owners, who understand what they are getting into when they purchase the dog.
 
"People that don't know are going to take them home," Dennis said. "They're going to wind up with a monster on their hands and not know what to do with them."
 
Dennis said that the Bouvier needs discipline and rules - rules which are set up by the owner.

"These dogs set up their own rules if you don't set them up for them," Dennis explained "They find their own job if you don't find a job for them." He said that some of these jobs include digging holes  in the yard and destroying the house.

 
"They will redecorate your house," Sandi said, "in a way that you probably don't want it decorated. You'll have your carpet removed, whether you wanted it removed or not."
 
"They don't read Better Homes and Garden," Dennis chimed.
 
[...] "They have not bred the natural dominance out of these dogs," Dennis said. "These dogs want to run things. But at the same time that doesn't mean beat the hell out of them with a stick, because all that means with these guys is you get a resentful dog."
 
"It is more like a tough-love kind of thing," Sandi agreed.
 
[...] Stormy trains for approximately two hours a week, Dennis said, to keep his discipline intact, but young Bouviers need much more work.
 
"Then you are into hours a day," he said "You are probably spending an hour a day socializing. For these guys, that's a lengthy process, relatively complicated and very necessary."
 
Dennis also said a Bouvier owner shouldn't take the dog to the backyard and train him without professional help.
 
"You're heading off for a miserable failure if  you try that," Dennis said. "It takes a professional." He said that the dog isn't the only one being trained; the owner is also learning how to work with the dog.
 
[...] Dennis said the massive amounts of hair that falls in giant clumps from a Bouvier's body can be overwhelming for owners.
 
The price for a Bouvier's regular grooming is quite daunting and done very six weeks. "The cheapest anyone will groom a bouvier for is $20 an hour and we're looking at least a couple of hours," Dennis said.
 
Sandi said the prices for show grooming are a lot more expensive, and some groomers won't even work on a Bouvier because "it's a one-dog day."
 
Bouviers not only smell from the massive amounts of hair they carry, but they have a gas problem some people find horrendous.
 
"Oh, it will peel paint off your walls," Sandi said.
 
"The word flatulence takes on a whole new meaning with him," Dennis said.
 
Sandi and Dennis said that if a Bouvier still appealing, potential owners should first talk to a reputable trainer who has experience with the breed.
 
"We want to protect this breed," Dennis said "We're trying to get a pre-emptive strike out here before what happened to Dalmatians happens to Bouviers."
Sandi Dunlap
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