In May, Michon Mills and her Belgian Malinois, India, competed in the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge Western Regional Championships where India won with a jump of 31 feet, 10 inches, the fourth longest jump in the 17-year history of the event.
India’s jump was 5 inches short of breaking the world record.
It’s those accomplishments that reminds Carson City’s Mills how far her dog has come within the past 2 years and how well they do as a team.
“Just to have that kind of bond with a dog and how much we have accomplished together as a team is amazing,” Mills said.
Mills is a retired Washoe County Sheriff where she was a K9 handler. After her partner and friend, a male Belgian Malinois was put down, she was hesitant about getting another dog, but bought a female Belgian Malinois from Michael Ellis’ Loups du Soleil kennel in April 2012 and named her India or “Inde” for short.
Mills said India will never replace her police dog, but the bond they have is extraordinary.
“She kind of filled that void I had after my police dog, and has definitely created her own spot in my heart,” Mills said.
Mills was told India was a small and sensitive dog and would not be able to do all the things Mills wanted, however, she started training and Inde exceeded her and everyone’s expectations.
“To see her grow from the sensitive dog she was and how far she has come is great,” Mills said. “She has taken me to places and has introduced me to people I would have never met if it wasn’t for her.”
In October, India and Mills will travel to Italy to compete in the Grand Prix Level 1 of the Mondioring World Cup.
“I want to represent the U.S. well,” Mills said. “There’s only six dogs going from the U.S., we are the only ones competing in level one of the grand prix.”
There will be about 13 countries participating in the Italy championships.
The Mondioring World Cup Championships is a series of exercises to be executed by the dog/handler team in the categories of obedience, agility and protection. This can range from refusal of food, to retrieving and jumping over hurdles. Another exercise consists of protecting its handler from a potential threat or attacker. Each trial is set up with themes, props, scenarios and distractions placed at strategic points on the field. The exercises will remain the same from trial to trial, however, the order and setup will change with each judges’ own creativity, making no two trials alike and preventing the possibility of preparing the dog by “rote.” The purpose of Mondioring is to highlight the aptitudes of the dog, the quality of its training, the control of its handler and the genetic inheritance of the dog.
This is the highest level of Mondioring competitions and if India wins, she will be world champion.
“I would love to be at the top of that podium, but whatever the outcome I will be happy,” said Mills.
India is trained in Engagement, Obedience and Mondioring and all of her commands are spoken in French. Mills said she does as much of the training as she can on her own, such as the obedience. For the others, such as Mondioring, they train with the Michael Ellis System for Dog Training and participate in its programs, which require them to travel. In fact, they recently traveled to Utah for training.
“She loves to travel,” Michon said of India. “She’s not your typical house dog and doesn’t like to just sit around. She likes the traveling and training.”
Training has paid off well for Mills and India. They have competed in a total of 19 obedience rally trials, three Mondiorings, the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge and more than 25 Splash dog events, which Mills said is India’s absolute favorite.
“I can never get her off the dock,” Mills said. India competed in the Splash Dog Nationals in July and won the extreme division.
India has won many awards including a Canine Good Citizen Title and the AKC Rally Advanced Excellent Title. Mills said India enjoys the competitions and gives it her all.
“Obviously ribbons and winning events mean nothing to her, to her everything is just fun,” she said. “I think she’s a little dog with a huge heart so anything she can do to please me, if she knows I am happy with her, she gives it her all.”
Along with training and competitions, Mills and India give back to the community. India is a certified therapy dog and likes to visit nursing, rehabilitation and assisted living establishments. Mills said India loves bringing a smile to people’s faces and touching their hearts.