Category Archives: working dogs

Can You Throw Off a Tracking Dog’s Scent with Pepper?

tracking dog annBy Linda Cole

When two prisoners escaped from a correctional facility in upstate New York earlier this year, it took authorities three weeks to find them. A police superintendent said he believed one of the convicts was able to elude capture for so long because he covered his tracks with pepper. But is it really possible to throw off a tracking dog’s scent with pepper? Stay tuned for the answer.

When it comes to picking up a scent and tracking it, Bloodhounds are second to none. In fact, a Bloodhound is so good at following a scent that his trailing results are admissible as evidence in a court of law. No other tracking dog breeds have that distinction. People who work with Bloodhounds often refer to them as “a nose attached to a dog.” A breed born to track, the working ability of these dogs is described as 75% instinct and 25% learned through training. Once a Bloodhound picks up a scent, he doesn’t forget it.

It was reported that Bloodhounds and German Shepherds took part in tracking the New York escapees, but it’s not known which breed the convicts tried to fool with pepper. However, trained German Shepherds also excel at tracking a scent. In addition to tracking fugitives, we use canines to sniff out bed bugs, explosives, drugs, low blood sugar, seizures, missing people and many other scents. Once a dog is trained to detect a certain scent, he is able to locate it regardless of other scents he may encounter along the way. The canine nose is so good that dogs are able to pick up a scent buried 40 feet underground or 80 feet underwater.
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What Human Job Would Your Dog Do?

By Linda Cole

Every dog has their own unique personality, preferences and abilities. Not all “water dogs” enjoy swimming, and not all Border Collies can herd sheep. I was observing my dog, Shelby, recently while she intensely watched my cat, who was a little too close to her food bowl. Shelby isn’t aggressive with my cats, nor does she guard her bowl. It’s a game she enjoys playing and the cats play along by giving her their best defiant stare of superiority. It made me laugh which got Shelby’s attention, and as she pawed my leg I thought about human jobs she and my other dogs might be good at.

dog jobs keikeiKeikei

This Border Collie mix adores the spotlight and thinks the world revolves around her. She is as sharp as a howling north wind in January, quickly learns new commands, and can be bossy at times. During play, her eyes are bright as she leaps around with excited barks like a cheerleader leading a chant. Nothing gets past her – sounds, people walking by, other animals or the occasional appearance of something only she can see.

A good human job for Keikei would be a CIA agent, because she has her nose poked in everything going on around the neighborhood. However, it wouldn’t be long before her covert spying was uncovered because she would never be able to avoid detection. She just can’t resist using her voice, and would end up spilling all of the secrets she knew. Foiled in her first human job, she would definitely shine as a celebrity strutting along a red carpet lined with adoring fans snapping her picture.

dog jobs MaxMax

My black Lab may be a water dog breed, but actually getting into water or exercising isn’t something Max has on his bucket list. He’s getting up there in age and prefers lounging around all day – and it’s obvious he hasn’t missed any of his CANIDAE meals.

Max makes up for his lack of ambition with an adorable willingness to get along, and has an “every day is a vacation” attitude. There’s no question his human job would be as a head of state. No real duties to attend to, except greeting dignitaries at state dinners.

dog jobs ShelbyShelby

My German Shepherd mix is a hand shaker and manipulator. She’s not a bit shy about flinging out her paw for attention. If I ignore her, she moves in closer and stares at me with pleading eyes. If that fails, her next move is to swipe her tongue up my leg or across my arm. Failure to achieve attention is not an option and her next move is to sit down right in front of me, paw my leg and whine quietly.

Shelby can pander as good as any politician looking for votes. Come to think about it, I can see her making a run for public office. She can work a crowd, and loves shaking hands and kissing strangers.

dog jogs DozerDozer

This Terrier mix investigates every inch of the dog pen every time he goes outside. If he finds a scent that draws his interest to a hole going underground, dirt begins to fly – which apparently causes him to lose his ability to hear.

Dozer would make a good archaeologist based on his dogged determination to dig out whatever is hiding beneath him. Although he has been known to dig at a chipmunk entrance and miss the critter climbing out of another hole behind him. He would still be good at pest control since he seems to be able to chase small critters out of the yard, one way or the other.

dog jobs rileyRiley

This Chihuahua/Terrier mix has a skeptical sideways glare she gives me when I laugh at her, which happens a lot. She’s the smallest canine in the house, but thinks she’s the biggest, and has no problem trying to intimidate her siblings – who all ignore her attempts to boss them around. I can see her sitting on the high bench in a court of law as a judge, barking to keep everyone in line. Come to think about it, she would also be the jury.

Another human job that would suit her would be an exercise guru. The one problem with that job, however, is she only has one move: rolling over on her back, kicking her back legs into the hair and then wiggling her butt back and forth while squealing with delight. I don’t know how well that move would work on molding a six-pack ab, but it certainly would bring a smile to anyone watching.

Photos by Linda Cole

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Extinct Dog Breeds We’ll Never Get to Meet

Southern_HoundBy Langley Cornwell

The World Canine Organization assembled a list of 339 different dog breeds that are agreed upon and recognized internationally. That’s a lot of dog breeds! But what this comprehensive list doesn’t include are the many different breeds that used to be documented, but are now extinct.

You may wonder how a dog breed becomes extinct. It’s generally at the hands of humans. We have either lost interest in preserving a certain breed or we have selectively bred that particular dog breed into a completely new breed. Here are a few interesting dog breeds that are no longer with us.

Southern Hound

A slow and methodical tracker, the Southern Hound was one of the oldest scent and tracking breeds ever documented. This big, plodding dog with long legs and a deep voice dates all the way back to the early 1400s. Known for his ability to track trails that had already gone cold, he was an expert (albeit slow) rabbit and deer hunter. As the Renaissance was coming to an end, hunters began to favor faster prey, so fox hunting rose in popularity. Because the Southern Hound was such a deliberate, steady tracker, he wasn’t the best choice for this fast-moving sport. Looking for a speedier dog, hunters began cross-breeding Southern Hounds with quicker, lighter breeds. The result was the beginnings of modern-day scent hounds including Beagles, Bloodhounds and Foxhounds.

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What Does It Take to Train a Service Dog?

By Langley Cornwell

Don’t we all marvel at the calm, focused demeanor of service dogs? My husband and I were being seated for lunch last week when I immediately noticed a giant Newfoundland calmly lounging under the bar. The dog wore a bright red “service dog” vest. My eyes traveled up to the gentleman sitting above the pup, eating his lunch, and I gave him a weak, polite smile. I didn’t want to gawk, but the dog captured my attention and it was hard to turn away.

Some time later when I was convinced the gentleman wasn’t looking, I stealthily pulled out my camera phone and snapped a photo. Don’t judge! Have you ever seen a Newfie service dog? It was a sight to behold. Congratulating myself on my sleight of hand, I snuck a look at the image. The photo was blurry. I’m clearly not cut out for the spy business.

I really wanted a closer look at this dog before the guy left, so I approached him, introduced myself and told him I was an avid animal lover and was mesmerized by his dog. He beamingly said she was one of only a handful of Newfoundland service dogs, told me about her special training, and allowed me to pet her. When I got up to leave, he said “Do you want to take another picture? I’m sure the first one didn’t turn out too well.” I laughed and told him I was trying to be sneaky. He confirmed that I need to keep my day job.

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Five Famous Dogs in Advertisements

By Laurie Darroch

Dogs have become famous symbols for many different brands. Some are so connected to the brand that their image instantly brings to mind the product or business it represents. With clever marketing and advertising, these dogs have made a huge impression on their viewing audiences, sometimes even taking on an almost cult-like following that shadows the original product they represent.

RCA Victor: Nipper

One of the classic icons of advertising, Nipper was shown sitting next to a large old-fashioned cylinder phonograph by Edison Bell. Nipper was first seen in a painting done by Francis James Barraud, the brother of Nipper’s original owner. Named for his habit of trying to nip visitors in the legs, the white Terrier with dark ears was born in 1894 and only lived for a year. His painting was done three years after his death.

Nipper became registered as the image of RCA for use in the United States in 1900. He represented RCA Victor Talking Machine Company, HMV, JVC, His Master’s Voice, and then RCA Victor. In later advertisements starting in 1991, a puppy companion named Chipper was added to some of the pictures.

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The Weather Channel’s Canine Hero: Butler the Therapy Dog

By Linda Cole

In the summer of 2013, an 18 month old Shepherd mix named Butler found himself in a Charlotte, NC shelter. When representatives from The Weather Channel (TWC) and the American Humane Association (AHA) visited the shelter, Butler had no way of knowing that this encounter would change his life and set him on a path to become a canine hero as The Weather Channel’s official therapy dog.

Natural disasters happen and your best defense is to have a plan, an emergency kit for your family and pets, and safe shelter for all. Recently, I talked with Butler’s owner/trainer/handler, Dr. Amy McCullough from the AHA, to learn more about the importance of therapy dogs in helping victims of natural disasters.

For the past few years, the AHA and TWC have provided tips for pet owners on disaster preparedness and related content online. In late 2013 they joined forces on a new initiative to help communities before and after a storm with lifesaving information, along with reaching out to help storm victims recover and heal. Butler’s role will be to provide animal-assisted therapy to those who need a comforting paw.

Amy was a member of the team that was searching shelters nationwide for just the right dog. “In addition to viewers submitting photos and videos of potential candidates online, I visited four shelters in four states in four days, meeting over 100 dogs. Butler was the second dog I met, and I knew he was the one.” The right dog needed to be at least a year old, in good health, able to get along well with other dogs, remain calm and enjoy meeting new people. “When I met Butler, he was playing with his friends in the shelter, but kept coming up to me seeking attention and affection,” Amy said. She adopted Butler, her third therapy dog, on January 22, 2014.

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