Little Tonshi – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Little Tonshi needs a new foster or adoptive home. She has been with us on Bramley Mountain since February. We nursed her through heartworm treatment and her spay surgery. We’ve gotten to know her, and we’ve gotten attached. But she cannot stay any longer. If she could be safe around my dogs, she would stay here forever – Tom is smitten and all her other quirks are minor.

I can’t stress enough how fun Tonshi is — she really is a classic malinois. She is a bit of a clown, loves to be airborne, and has a truly engaging and winsome smile. She is nine years young – yeah, I always hated that phrase until I met Tonshi. She really is way younger than her years. Athletic, eager, smart, and rarin’ to go, she will make someone a fabulous dog… but that someone can’t be me. She is tolerant of some of my dogs, but truly aggressive towards Peeka. We hoped against hope that this would improve, but it hasn’t. The situation is stressful and neither Tonshi nor the rest of us thrive under stress. She needs a place where she can continue to improve and work on her other issues, and have much more fun. Because really, fun is what Tonton is all about!

If she can’t find a good match, she will need to enter boarding. Quite frankly, Tonshi is not a great candidate for boarding so I though I’d try one last ditch effort to find that perfect match for her. Please share widely, but given Tonshi’s issues, please understand that she’s going to need a very specific new family, with experience and skills to match her needs.


The Good:

  • Tonshi is smart — smart for a malinois, so that puts her in the upper echelons of smart —  and learns quickly. Learning and working with a human is her favorite thing to do. Solid medium to high ball drive. Hunt drive could be developed. Toy and food motivated. Loves to work. LOVES to work. LOVELOVELOVES to work. She lights up like a Christmas tree when it’s her turn to work.
  • Has a nice “off switch” and will settle indoors. Sometimes this requires a couple of reminders…
  • She loves to swim! Fearless around water. Leaps off my pathetic little dock  — no problem.
  • She can walk nicely on a loose leash when she is feeling confident and secure.
  • Fully vetted: spayed, UTD on vaccines and preventives. Healthy and athletic!
  • Crate trained; no crate issues.
  • Housebroken.
  • Affectionate; loves her people.
  • Alerts when new people enter the property. Not over the top, but great alert barking. Greets strangers at our home without issues.


The Bad:

  • Tonshi has dog aggression issues. Not every single dog, and not 100% of the time, but her inability to live with my pack has put her in this predicament. She will need a home that can handle total separation and “crate and rotate” or an only dog home.
  • Tonshi lacks confidence. This too can be changed, built up, trained through, and improved – she’s made fabulous improvements in her few months here. Patient support and training will make a world of difference with this.


The Ugly:

  • Tonshi has what I believe is called “drive aggression.” I call it biteys. She will grab-nip-bite her handler when she gets revved up. She is VERY responsive to training on this and I have made huge strides with redirecting this behavior. I believe decent training could eliminate this quickly and completely… but she will need a malinois savvy person who understands this behavior and doesn’t freak out at a little mali-clacking that escalates!
  • Tonshi also will grab-nip her handler when she is panicked. She escalates to being frantic and starts grabbing at her handler in new situations. She responds to calm, gentle and firm redirection. Again, I feel certain she could be helped through this and it will improve, but you need to be ready for that first time!


We know very little about Tonshi’s back story, but she was born in March 2008 in Belgium. She has “papers” (as a rescue person I’m not entirely sure what this means, but I think it’s good). She lived in Ohio in a home with other malinois, and it appears to me that she must have had a nice bond with a human who worked with her somewhere in her past. She came into rescue with some commands in German, and a true love of work. She knew what toys were, and she knew how to play fetch and tug. Someone loved her and lavished attention on her way back when. She remembers that and is desperately trying to teach me how to make her happy and fulfilled.

Her issues with other dogs also date back to her original home. Her head is covered in scars, old and new. She has been fighting most of her life. Our home and my skills are just not up to the task of keeping everyone separate and that is what’s needed to keep everyone safe. I feel terribly sad but resigned and committed. She has to go. Malinois ownership guiding tenets: face the facts, deal with them and know your limitations. I can’t manage dogs that hate each other, and Tonshi really hates Peeka.

Volunteering with rescue is like signing up for heartache, but hope prevails. I hope the right family steps up for Tonshi and soon. I hope this post helps her find her people. And I hope the next foster works out for us, because there is always a next one… and another and another after that…




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