Known as the Belgian Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois is a favored breed for training in K9, military and search and rescue operations. The keen intellect, great work ethic and protective nature combined in this large breed that can reach 60-80 pounds of raw energy, requires diligent training and engagement to reach its full potential as a willing partner to fight crime, track down lost citizens and protect those that serve.
When Willy Ayala, of Bristol, CT decided to branch out and develop a breeding and training program for Malinois dogs, he knew that he would need a strong and sturdy kennel if it was to successfully keep his prize pups safe and contained.
“My priority is to see that my dogs don’t get hurt. I didn’t want a kennel they could tear up either and their ‘escape artist’ nature is hard to contain,” Ayala explained. He had already experienced a steep learning curve regarding his two female Malinois’ ability to bite and chew their way through almost anything.
Throughout his life Ayala has enjoyed ownership of a variety of dog breeds and his son grew up in a house full of dogs. He loves boxers, and owned 3 across 23 years, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels and even a beagle. Although he confides he wouldn’t want another beagle. But when he decided to develop a new business breeding dogs and his interest in K9 training took hold, his choice was the Malinois and that was when he found out the hard way, that the breed requires a lot of attention.
“I currently care for my elderly parents. My Mom is 87 and my father 92. That required I move from Georgia to Connecticut and that required a long car journey. By the time I arrived in Connecticut the two puppies had torn the inside of the car apart. So, when I went looking for a kennel and Horizon Structures popped up in lead position on Google, I liked how sturdy their kennels were built. I looked down the list at some of the other kennels but no-one had the selection or quality that Horizon Structures offered so I gave them a call and the first thing I said to the gentleman, Mr. King, was I needed a really sturdy kennel that would keep my dogs safe,” said Ayala.
The result of their conversation was the decision Ayala made to purchase a 12’ x 24’ 4-run commercial grade dog kennel from Horizon Structures, and in addition to the 4’ center feed room, run and dog boxes he also opted for an upgrade to 6 gauge welded wire.
Brad Zeigler, outside Sales Representative for Horizon Structures that many of you may have met out and about at K9 conferences such as HITS Chicago and the K9 Cop Magazine in Nashville, TN, said he often fields questions on the integrity and sturdiness of the kennels at these events.
“It is always an area of concern. Understandably the dogs take a lot of training and hard work on a daily basis. The need to keep them safe is paramount. I always recommend that the wire in the kennel be welded as opposed to chain-link, as these dogs can chew through regular grade wire. These dogs mean serious business and we take their care, comfort and containment very seriously” stated Zeigler.
While Ayala is just starting out and learning about K9 training with the help of a professional handler, his plan is to develop a breeding program and to provide trained dogs for all types of service needs. The location for his new business will be in Lempster, NH, where his property now proudly boasts the addition of an attractive and highly functional commercial kennel.
“Since Horizon placed the kennel, I’ve had several compliments from the neighbors and visitors remarking on how pretty the building is. I regularly visit my property there and have plans to plant two red maples in front of it to complement the blue and white color of the structure. I take my two girls everywhere. I take them one at a time into the big box stores when I run errands there, leaving the other one in the car. Then I switch them out. Now I can leave them safely behind in their kennel if I want to go run errands. They are perfectly happy there. And I like knowing they are safe,” said Ayala.
Ayala believes every dog has a purpose and while he agrees rescuing a dog is a noble thing to do, he wants to breed a dog that is talented for the job he wants it to do.
“The Malinois love to be constantly working. They are great dogs for protection. My two girls are nearly 18 months now and have had their second heat. On the next go around I plan to start breeding them. I work them every day at least once, usually in the morning before my Mom wakes up. Sadly, my father has dementia and it got so bad with Sundown Syndrome we had to put him in a home. After I work my dogs in the morning I come home and cook Mom breakfast. When she naps a bit in the afternoon, I sometimes take my dogs out to the park and work them again. They get 30 minutes each training time in the hour plus another 30 minutes walking time together with me. They won’t let anyone near me and are very protective. They are still babies, but they are starting to settle down,” explained Ayala.
When asked how the set up and delivery of the Horizon Structures kennel for dog breeding went Ayala was extremely pleased to report that he was so happy with the gentleman and how he handled the delivery that he tipped him.
“He was really good. I had the pad built already for the kennel and when he arrived, he took the time to really listen to me about how I wanted it. I suppose it was self-evident about where it was to go with the pad there, but he was very patient and deliberate about what he did and really impressed me.”
The kennel has been in situ since the summer and it has seen its first snowfall in the mountains of New Hampshire. Ayala and his Malinois have had plenty of opportunity to enjoy using it. He is very happy with the quality and the sturdy nature of the construction and reports his dogs love it too and added that his puppies love it so much they don’t even bark when he leaves them alone in their boxes.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this product to anyone looking for a kennel. The purchasing experience was a pleasure from start to finish and Mr. King was an expert in helping me out and explaining the features I might need or want given what I wanted to purpose the kennel for, especially with this breed of dog.“
The design that Ayala chose included several neat features, including a 100-amp electrical package with a breaker box that fed lights and switches, that was ready on delivery for hook up by his electrician. Insulated slab door, spray foam insulated floor and R-13 fiberglass insulated walls and ceiling keep the kennel cozy in winter and cool in summer. The exterior boasts composite decking in the exterior dog run and dog doors are 20” plexiglass chew proofed with stainless steel edges. With its LP Techshield siding and 30-year architectural shingle Ayala and his Belgian Malinois’ will be able to enjoy many happy years putting it to good use.