Linsey Moeskops is owner/trainer/handler of her small Lowchen pride.

It takes only a quick peek at Linsey Moeskops’ photo albums and video collections to know that Lotje, Kai and Dino live active, fun-filled lives with their owner/handler. This young woman from Turnhout, Belgium is totally dedicated to ensuring that each reaches full potential.

Initially, Linsey started with the Moeskops’ family pet, Lotje, a Yorkie Löwchen cross breed. At age six, Lotje commenced training for club obedience matches, Two years later, at age eight, she added agility events. Linsey believes Lotje was one of the first veterans to excel at this sport; most start as young dogs. "In Belgium, public access to dog sport records is not readily available, so for the most part I rely on the things people tell me. Upon our receiving the agility license, the judge stated that to the best of her knowledge, this was the first time a veteran had earned such an award!”  Now fourteen, Lotje’s photos reveal a lively senior, sometimes sporting the signature little lion dog trim, good naturedly accommodating the wild antics of her younger canine buddies. Although Lotje is now deaf, she maintains her fitness regimen by following hand signals.
Four years ago, as Lotje eased into retirement, Kai de la Maison Dominique (Kai) joined the Moeskop household. Linsey added “Be Ch” (Belgian Champion) to Kai’s name in the past year, through conformation events. But let’s head back to his performance career! What a thrill it was for Ms. Moeskops to train her little lion dog and earn several Lowchen firsts: Kai secured the first Belgian Lowchen obedience certificate, earned 10 qualifying scores in the debutant level and then went on to be the first Lowchen in Belgium to enter the middle level, P1! In the starter’s level, Kai is the first Lowchen to get a 2nd and 3rd place at a trial, beating 50+ dogs.”Tracking Löwchen firsts is not difficult, as it remains a relatively rare breed in Belgium. At present, videos and photos reveal that Kai is having a blast tackling agility! Team Kai/Linsey is one to watch!!

The latest addition to the Moeskops pride is Quinten de la Maison Dominique. The ever so charismatic “Dino” is Kai’s one year old half sibling on the dam’s side. Kai and Dino provide Linsey experience in recognized competitions, whereas Lotje performed in club matches, only. “Dino is a very playful dog; he sees everything as a game. Of course that isn’t really a bad thing and it’s also a Lowchen thing. But one of the things about that is that when he sees something interesting to him, he doesn’t care about anything else (including me) and runs off to it. A big challenge for his first trials is to keep him away from the other dogs, as some might not be dog friendly. He’s getting better at it, but this trait has remained a part of him. I will always have to work on it.”

Many of us are initially unaware of the incredible bond that develops in performance sports, as the human/canine team seems to tirelessly develop both perseverance and skill, year after year. Graciously, Linsey has agreed to share a few of her personal trials and tribulations with us:

Did anyone, or did any breed, catch your eye when you were younger that resulted in your decision to take up this sport?
“I actually didn’t know anything about dog sports when I started with Lotje; I wanted to do something with her, to keep her active. Later on when I started with agility with her, I became more interested in dog sports, but didn’t really know what breed to start with. Like most people, my first interest was the Border Collie. But I wanted a breed that was less known and still has some will to please. When surfing the web, I came across a Lowchen which resembled Lotje a lot. This was the first time I ever saw a Lowchen. I started looking up info (and learned) they sounded like nice family dogs, but I wanted a little bit more than that, and not long after that I came across this page: This told me they can be more than only just lapdogs. Then I got Kai and the plan was to do agility with him, but Kai decided otherwise and we ended up in obedience, the sport I didn’t really like at first. So you can say Kai decided for me which dog sport we would start with.”

Were there features of the Löwchen breed that created interest?
 “The loyalty to their owners and always wanting to be around with them caught my attention.”
How did you come to add Kai to your life?
“When I decided which breed, it all went very fast. A few months later I was the owner of a Lowchen pup. In Kai’s litter there was only 1 male and since a male would be a better match for Lotje, this wasn’t really a difficult choice. “
Where do you train and how do you secure equipment for this it, build it, buy it???
With obedience, club members may train at the dog school whenever they want, so that’s quite easy. I do have some homemade equipment in the yard, though. With agility it’s different; I don’t have a large yard to have full equipment, so most of the time I train at the dog school. We attend separate schools for obedience and agility. My weave is homemade, as are a few other small pieces of equipment. These we can use during training at home.”
How do you go about training in the winter months?
“I train in the winter months the same as in the other months with obedience. The dogs are used to it from pup age on and have no problems training in snow, rain or any other weather condition. This is also necessary since obedience trials take place year round and are always outside. The only time there isn’t an obedience trial is at the end of December. Dino does have some problems with snow between his toes, so at training in the snow he gets snow boots on and he has no problems with it at all. With agility, I don’t have much experience with Kai yet, but with Lotje in the winter there was less training, which had no effect on the training afterwards. Agility is a bit harder to do in the winter months, since the safety of the dog is a greater concern than in obedience.”

You mention that training an older dog is different from training a pup to adulthood.  Please share some insight into how it is different....attention span, maybe...??? In other words, what observations have you made with regard to the challenges faced in training an older dog versus a younger one?
 “Yes, indeed, the attention span in younger dogs is different than in older dogs. Of course, Lotje was already 6 years old when I started training with her, so that’s a completely different stage in a dog’s life. But on the other hand, when you start with a pup, it’s so much easier to get them used to the different obstacles. I notice that now with Dino. With Kai I didn’t know what to expect in obedience and I didn’t really prepare him as a pup for the obstacles he might encounter at obedience trials, also because it wasn’t really the plan to do obedience in the first place. With Dino I started introducing the obstacles from day 1 and you do see the difference in behaviour towards the obstacles. Dino sees them as fun, while Kai always needs more time to get used to them.”

It is hoped that The Lowchen Guardian will facilitate the creation of friendships, as well encourage breed experts to make themselves available as mentors. Do you have questions re: training Löwchen for performance sports that you would like to see addressed?
“Yes, maybe some tips on how they motivate their Lowchens.”
(Stay tuned, Linsey!  The Lowchen Guardian will include an article on motivation in the next Mane Journal.)
What events are you entering this year and with which dogs?
“About 6 obedience trials with Kai. Dino will enter his first trials in September; he’s entered in 4 trials. And Kai will maybe have a go trying to get his agility license, but that’s not sure yet. It will depend on the progress he makes and if he still likes doing it.”
What are your hopes and dreams for the future? 
“My biggest dream is some day in the future to be selected to compete with a Lowchen at the Belgian championship obedience.  A smaller dream is to reach P2 (highest competition level in obedience) with a Lowchen.”  
© The Lowchen Guardian, 2011