First, it must be expressly understood that Mallach is not a bear (although he was once mistaken for one). And it must also be recognized that (although he's only four years old) he is nevertheless a sizeable dog. Even so -- at 120 pounds, 2' 5" tall and 39 inches from nose to tail -- he is small for his breed.
Mallach is pronounced 'mal-lick' and his name is a Viking version of the biblical Malachi. He is, as the French say, a Bouvier des Flandres -- literally "a cow-herding dog of Flanders." Two nations lay claim to the bouvier (pronounced 'boo-vee-ay'): France and Belgium. And two wars threatened to extinguish the breed, first because bouvier were rescue dogs on the front lines of World War I, and then because the dogs were pressed into less noble service by the Nazis.
The bouvier are thought to be descended from Viking war dogs which were later domesticated by farmers to drive cattle, herd sheep and pull carts. Eventually the handsome animals were bred for show, winning honors in the herding dog category. The breed is gentle, even-tempered, and intelligent and all of these traits were on display last month when Mallach's owners, Marlin and Tanis Stinson, took the obliging dog on a visit to Crossroads Senior Living on Aspen Way in Delta.
As Marlin told about the dog's history, Mallach sat patiently surrounded by fascinated residents. When it came time to meet the dog, residents petted and shook hands with the gentle giant. Pamela McGee, activity director for Crossroads, said that residents thoroughly enjoyed Mallach's visit and hopes he will come again soon. She encourages other dog owners to share their pets with residents but anyone interested in doing so must contact her in advance by calling 970-874-1412. Service dogs are preferred since these animals are trained to be around people.