Sgt. Jack Fliter and Gunner

I have been involved in Law Enforcement for almost 30 years. I have been involved with Police k-9’s since 1988, when I got my first working dog.  During my career, I worked three dogs on the street, two patrol dogs, and one patrol/explosives dog.  I also trained dozens of patrol, narcotics, and explosives dogs, and was a trainer with the PPWDA. I met Dave probably 15-20 years ago, when he joined our Schutzhund club.  As it is with busy careers and lifestyles, we lost track over the years, and had not seen each other for several years.  I was planning to retire from law enforcement in Apr. 2010, and I started looking for a new pup, as my retired k-9 was now 11 years old.  I put the word out to my other k-9 friends that I was looking for a new pup, and if they had any leads on anyone with good working lines with litters due, to let me know.  I had always had German Shepherd Dogs.  I had trained several Malinois, but never owned one.  I knew the drive and temperament of the breed.  But actually OWNING one, well I don’t know.  Anyway, this k-9 officer friend tells me about this breeder who has these dynamite Malinois, and has a litter due any time.  I find out this breeder is none other than Dave Balmat, my old acquaintance from years before.  I knew Dave, and knew he always was a very responsible dog person, more concerned with the breed and the dog, than in trying to become a millionaire by selling a bill of goods to someone and calling it a k-9.  I knew he was a very serious trainer and handler.  So, needless to say, I did not hesitate to contact Dave.  After the old long time, no see, how have things been, and exchanging some war stories from over the years, Dave told me about the litter he had, which was now only a few days old.  

Dave sent me the pedigrees on Doden and Lucy, the sire and dam, and about a dozen or so photos.  Seeing what I did, I was already convinced of the genetic quality of the pups.  But a MALINOIS???  I never had a Malinois.  Do I really want to do this?  I mean, I AM retiring.  I’m supposed to relax.  Any of you who are familiar with the breed, know there is very little relaxing with a Malinois, especially one from strong working lines.  Dave kept me updated almost daily on the pups, sending me photos, and notes on the progress on each pup. He knew exactly what I was looking for, and how much dog would be enough, but not over the top.  Now I have been around dogs, and kennels, and breeders for many years.  I have seen some really great breeders, and I have seen some pretty unscrupulous breeders.  Dave was definitely a very responsible breeder.  What impressed me the most, was the amount of care and time he had invested in the litter.  He could tell me which pup opened his eyes first, which pup walked first, and as they got older, which pup was the dominant, which pup was the best eater, etc.  As the pups got to be a few weeks old, Dave would be constantly stimulating the pups, socializing them around loud sounds, different floor surfaces, etc.  At about 6 weeks of age, he would load them into a wagon, and take them for “rides” around the kennel.  Needless to say, when I went to look at the pups at about that time, these were some very well adjusted, well socialized, and secure pups.  Very stable temperament, very social.  And looking at the pups myself, Dave was right on the money in his evaluations.  We selected the pup we were interested in, and the rest, as they say, is history.  We brought our pup home when he was eight weeks old, and now “Gunnar” is my retired k-9 partners best buddy.  Gunnar just turned a year old on 11 Feb. 2011, and I can say, it has been a pleasure.  I continued socializing the pup from the time he came home, and he faced any new challenges like a champ.  His temperament is outstanding, his overall health is excellent, very social, and very secure in his surroundings.  I did some puppy tracks with him before the winter set in, and he took to it immediately.  Now, I am seriously considering working with Dave and training “Gunnar” as a HRD (human remains detection) dog.  Training will be starting soon.  Just can’t keep a good dog down. So much for retirement……..

Sgt. Jack Fliter  (Retired ?)
City of Bethlehem Police Dept.

Bethlehem, Pa.