Does your dog fetch your slippers or bring you the paper? Have you taught it any neat tricks? Dogs are amazing animals who only need the proper stimulation.
People have been adapting new ways to get the most out of their canine companions for thousands of years. So why shouldn’t take advantage of this in the modern age? Here are 10 things you could possibly ask your dog to do.
Sniffing Out Red Snappers
Everyone knows about drug-sniffing dogs. But Alabama’s Marine Resources Enforcement people train English Springer Spaniels to sniff out Red Snappers. Red Snappers are a tasty fish with restricted limits, so restricted people have been exceeding them and stashing the extras on their boats. Fish sniffer Springers not only can tell the Snappers from other fish, but also can distinguish between the legal ones and hidden ones.
Shed hunting – picking up previously shed deer and elk antlers – has turned into quite a sport, and a profitable past time too. The smart guys are training their dogs to go and do the finding and retrieving for them. With antlers selling at a good rate, that’s a lot more profitable than throwing a tennis ball.
Tastier than sheds, dogs are increasingly being trained to sniff out and locate tasty truffles. One breed in particular, the Lagotta Romagnolo, specializes in truffle hunting. Although originally bred as a gun dog, this Italian pups are now number one in rooting out the highly prized fungi. Some varieties of “the most expensive food in the world” go for $3,600 per pound. That beats out shed hunting.
Did you know some dogs can tell if you have cancer? Lucy — a cross between a Labrador retriever and an Irish water spaniel — flunked guide dog school but learned to sniff out bladder, kidney and prostate cancer. She is able to detect cancer correctly 95% of the time, better than many lab tests.
Lucy is one of eight dogs now participating in a clinical test of canine cancer detection being conducted by a British organization, part of one of the Medical Detection Dogs.
Helping Veterans with PTSD
Dogs can also help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. More than 300,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan came home suffering from PTSD.
Paws for Purple Hearts trains dogs to pair up with veterans suffering from PTSD. They say dogs can draw out even the most isolated personality and help vets overcome emotional numbness. Teaching their dogs service commands also develops a patient’s ability to be assertive but not aggressive, a distinction some struggle with. The dogs can also relieve the hyper vigilance common with PTSD, with participants saying they can finally sleep knowing that their dog is standing watch.
Helicopter Water Rescue
In several European countries Newfoundland dogs are trained to leap from helicopters and rescue swimmers.
The Italian School of Water Rescue Dogs has been saving lives in the water for over a decade. What fearless pups they are! Newfoundlands are incredibly strong swimmers and their huge size means they are capable of dragging a human in the water.
Dogs have also been trained to leap from helicopters and attack bad guys on the ground. You probably have to see this one to believe it.
Smelling Orca Poop
Tucker is unusual for two reasons. One, he’s a lab who hates water. Second, he is helping save Orca whales by detecting their feces in the water. Fortunately he just needs to stick his nose in. He locates it, the researchers scoop it out for study.
Tucker works with the CK-9 program at the University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology. These dogs are trained to hunt down the fecal leavings of threatened and endangered species. They can track spotted owls, cougars and caribou, or rare species such as the Iberian wolf, giant armadillo and tiger. An experienced dog can identify scat from more than 13 separate species.
Airport Bird Chasers
Birds and other wildlife can be a huge headache for airplanes taking off or landing. Bird strikes cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and endanger human lives, and more and more airports are using dogs trained to chase birds out of the area.
You may have noticed that honey prices are up. For the last ten years the honeybee population has gone way down. Not only is that bad for honey lovers, it’s bad because about a third of all the food we eat depends upon bees for pollination. Enter dogs trained to sniff out American foulbrood, a highly contagious bacterial infection responsible for killing entire bee colonies. Dogs that save honey. Sweet.
Photo credit: Pixabay