For as long as they have been domesticated, humans have partnered with dogs in countless working roles. I find it incredible how these working dogs were improved and perfected for their specific working environments over many generations.
Even today, there are many jobs where dogs perform at a level that belittles even the most of modern technologies.
Here are three unusual jobs for dogs; 2 modern jobs, and one very oldschool job. Enjoy!
Bed Bug Detection Dogs
With the increased focus on green pest management and integrated pest management, bed bug detection dogs are quickly gaining popularity in North America. Dogs are a safer alternative to pesticide use as a management strategy. Dogs smell in parts per trillion, something humans cannot do, and detect bed bugs through all life cycle phases from eggs to nymphs to adults.
Bed bug detection dogs are a viable and scientifically-proven alternative to traditional methods of pest detection. A 2008 report by the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology endorsed bed bug detection dogs by stating that the “reliability of the dogs has been impressive provided they are properly trained.” Scientists at the university reviewed studies on the dogs and concluded that although expensive for operators, canine detection dogs were promising.
Bed bug detection is complicated (for humans) by the fact that the insects can hide almost anywhere. Bed bug detection dogs solve this problem because they are small and agile, finding bugs in places humans cannot such as wall voids, crevices and furniture gaps.
Cell Phone Detection Dogs
At first glance, you’re probably thinking “Why would a dog need to sniff out cell phones?”. Turns out that cell phone smuggling into prisons is a huge problem – between 2008 and 2010, the number of cell phones seized by the Federal Bureau of Prisons increased from 1,774 to 8,656.
Smuggled cell phones have been an instrumental catalyst for organizing riots, planning escapes, and threatening witnesses and others outside the prison, among other things.
Cell phone detection dogs are trained to sniff out cell phones, ear pieces, batteries, and all sorts of cell phone accessories. Given their acute sense of smell, dogs are able to accurately detect these items even if they are concealed inside other items, food packaging, and body cavities.
Dating back to as early as 1576, Turnspit Dogs (also known as Kitchen Dogs, Cooking Dogs, Under Dogs, or Vernepator), were bred to run on a wheel, called a turnspit (or dog wheel), to turn meat so it may cook evenly.
Working the turnspit took both courage (to stand near the fire) and loyalty (not to eat the roast). Due to the strenuous nature of the work, a pair of dogs would often be worked in shifts. This may have led to the proverb ‘every dog has his day.’
Turnspit dogs were also taken to church to serve as foot warmers.
Turnspit dogs look like Welsh Corgis with long bodies, but they have drooping ears like the Weimaraner. According to records, they look to be about 25 – 35 lbs and possibly 14″ to 16″ tall. They were described as ‘long-bodied, crooked-legged and ugly dogs, with a suspicious, unhappy look about them’ in the old English dog book. Often, they are shown with a white stripe down the center of their faces.
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