If one day I should be fortunate-enough to own a Groenendael, I will call him Odin. Norse god of wisdom and death and war and poetry and some other excellent stuff. He is head god. The All Father. Now look at this dog and tell me that there is another dog better suited to that name. I think you will find that the answer is no, that there is no dog better suited to such a noble-yet-bad-ass name. I think they are one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen. They look so proud and beautiful. I just want to brush them and stroke their coats and tell them they’re good.

Unlike a corgi, for the most part, this is a dog I can imagine taking on long walks across misty moors or in a twilit forest or over rolling hills in the morning. There’s this park close to where I lived for a little while in England, and it’s got a path running through it and there’s a river running along one side of it, and I sometimes fantasize about taking my beautiful Odin for calming walks through that park, and I wouldn’t be afraid, because he would be there with me, strong and loyal and imposing.

I think a Groenendael is a kind of dog you could really feel safe with, the kind of dog who could be rambunctious and fun when you take him out to play and exercise, but also calming and somehow sage-like when you want to sit down in front of your beautiful wood-burning fireplace and read a book. This is, of course, a scene I imagine taking place somewhere in my rather distant future, when I’m more or less established with a home and some property and some manner of salary that would allow me to have a beautiful dog and a wood-burning fireplace.

A Groenendael, you see, is a sheepdog, often considered a breed of Belgian Shepherd, but sometimes considered a breed of its own. In the States, or at least, by the American Kennel Club, it’s known as the Belgian Sheepdog. I know, it’s a lot of terminology that probably means very little to most of us. What we can take from it, though, is that this is a dog that needs lots of mental stimulation, and lots of exercise. I read that you should expect to spend about two hours a day working with it, and that not just walking, but doing activities that will keep it mentally stimulated.

There are really intelligent animals, and, like all animals, they deserve respect and the attention that they need to keep physically and mentally fit. That said, you’ll get out what you put in. The Groenendael is loyal, affectionate, and protective, and can be a wonderful friend to you if you have the time and energy to give to the relationship. So this is a some day dog, as opposed to a one day soon dog, but that’s okay. The best things in life are worth waiting for.

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