Category Archives: working dogs

How Archaeologists Use the Power of a Dog’s Nose

By Linda Cole

Dogs are famous for their acute sense of smell. Beagles have been employed as bed bug detection dogs, and they sniff bags in airports to check for illegal fruits and vegetables being brought in by travelers. Drug and bomb sniffing dogs are trained to detect the smallest hint of contraband or explosives. More recently, archaeologists have discovered a dog with a good nose can be trained to search for smells that will tell us about our historical past buried in prehistoric grave sites. Now that’s a dog with a keen sense of smell!

When comparing scent receptors, we humans are woefully inadequate to dogs. Humans have around five million scent receptors in their nose, and the average canine has around 200 million. Adding to a dog’s extraordinary scenting ability is an organ located on the roof of the mouth that allows them to “taste” a smell, as well. So when we catch a whiff of steaks grilling on a BBQ close by, you can imagine how that mouth-watering scent is affecting your dog. Dogs are also capable of honing in on one specific smell among many. Once they find what they’re looking for, their focus is on that one smell, and they can follow it to its source. That’s why it’s nearly impossible to evade a tracking Bloodhound.

Historical Human Remains Detection dogs (HHRD) are trained to sniff out lingering odors from bones and teeth in old grave sites, some that may be thousands of years old. These unique canines are the newest detection dogs, and they help humans search for information underground that is difficult for us to find on our own. These specially trained dogs have been used by archaeologists, construction companies and ordinary people to locate American Indian burial sites, lost family cemeteries and unmarked grave sites.

We live in the present, but our history is buried in the past. We learn who we are as a people by understanding who we were in the past. Spread across this land are historical and prehistoric grave sites that can take us back to another time. In many cases, finding a hundred-year-old family burial spot isn’t of any real value to most people, but it is to the family searching for their roots.

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Difference between Parson, Jack Russell and Russell Terrier

By Linda Cole

The Parson, Jack Russell, and Russell terriers are actually three different breeds, even though they’re related and look much alike. The Russell Terrier was introduced at the National Dog Show in 2012 as a new breed recognized by the AKC. The Jack Russell is not a recognized breed, despite the dog’s popularity in this country. There is a good explanation as to why, but it can be a bit confusing.

The Parson, Jack Russell and Russell terrier breeds were all named after the Reverend John “Jack” Russell (1795 – 1883), a parson who lived in Devonshire, England during the 1800s. He was an avid fox hunter, when he wasn’t attending to his duties at his church. The Reverend was also quite fond of fox hunting dogs, and bred them. His first terrier, a female named Trump, was likely the foundation for Russell’s working dogs.

Reverend Russell, also known as “The Sporting Parson,” wanted a working dog that was feisty, strong and confident ,to hunt fox and go to ground to flush out fox or other prey from a hole. The Reverend lived in the southern part of England where the terrain wasn’t as hilly, and a short legged dog met his needs. The small dog ran with hunters on horseback, and hounds following a fox. When the hounds chased the fox underground, it was the terrier’s job to follow and flush the fox out of the hole so the hunt could resume.

It was after Reverend Russell’s death when the JRT breed began to evolve into the Parson Terrier. Hunters living in areas where the land was more uneven and hillier wanted dogs with longer legs that allowed them to better navigate rougher terrain so they could keep up with the hounds and horses. They were also more interested in hunting other prey, primarily badger. If a pup was born with shorter legs, they were kept at home as companion pets, to roam around the barn and home catching vermin, and as watchdogs.

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The Highest Paid Animal Actors

Rin Tin Tin in the 1929 film Frozen River

By Langley Cornwell

Animals don’t really care about money, but nevertheless, when it comes to animal actors, they do indeed get paid. Some animal actors receive a hefty fee for their performances, and that pay would make any human drool. Who are the highest paid animal actors? Check these out.

Rin Tin Tin the Dog 

This beloved pooch starred in 26 films for Warner Brothers and commanded a cool $6,000 each week. In today’s money, that would equal $78,000 per week! With that income, he could feed himself and thousands of his friends a healthy diet of CANIDAE dog food. Rin Tin Tin earned Warner Brothers so much money, in fact, that he was responsible for bringing the studio back from the brink of bankruptcy in 1930. Rin Tin Tin was a German shepherd dog that was rescued from a battlefield during World War I by an American soldier named Lee Duncan. Duncan trained “Rinty,” his pet name for his dog. Rin Tin Tin became a beloved movie icon and was rumored to have received the most votes for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1929, but the Academy would only give the award to a human. The original Rin Tin Tin died in 1932. (Read more about this famous animal actor in The True Story of Rin Tin Tin).

Keiko the Whale

This killer whale made a killing financially, thanks to his depiction of Willy in the Free Willy films. He earned a grand total of over $36 million for his role! Eventually, Keiko gained his own freedom in 2002, as he was returned to the open ocean. Sadly, Keiko died in 2003 in Norway from a bout with pneumonia, but his work lives on after his passing.

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Terrier Dog Breeds: Big Attitudes in Small Bodies

Airedale Terrier

By Linda Cole

The terrier group of dog breeds is an interesting mix of canines, bred to do a variety of jobs from hunting prey to keeping rats at bay. They are feisty, energetic and small enough to fit into any home. This is a group with a variety of distinct personalities, but all have a “big attitude in a small body.” Digging is common in terriers because they were bred to go underground after their prey. Terra is the Latin word for “earth,” and terriers are certainly “earth dogs.” The American Kennel Club recognizes 29 different terrier breeds. Here is brief information on nine of them:

The Airedale Terrier holds the “King of Terriers” crown; they are the largest and most robust of the group. The Airedale is considered an all purpose dog, and was used during wartime as a guard dog, to run messages, control rodents, and as a hunting dog. Hypoallergenic; they stand 22-24 inches and weigh 40-64 pounds.

The Australian Terrier was the first breed recognized in 1868 as native to Australia. His job was to work alongside his owner in the Australian Outback to keep vermin and snakes in check. He was also a watchdog, and helped with livestock. Hypoallergenic; they stand 9-11 inches and weigh 12-16 pounds.

Bedlington Terrier

The Bedlington Terrier could easily be mistaken for a lamb because of his woolly, curly coat. The breed was developed in a mining shire in Northumberland, England, and that’s where its name comes from. The miners used the Bedlington to control vermin, and because they had excellent speed and endurance, miners also raced them. Hypoallergenic; they stand 15-18 inches and weigh 17-23 pounds.

The Border Terrier can get into most any size hole, and can race across different types of terrain after his main prey, the fox. The Border was bred as a working dog and protector of his owner’s livestock. In the old days living on a farm, this little dog had to be a good hunter because he had to hunt down his own supper. Hypoallergenic; they stand 11-16 inches and weigh 11-16 pounds.
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Paintings of Animal Heroes

Freddy

By Sue Hains

In the winter of 2009 – 2010, I was commissioned to paint a picture of Freddy, an FBI dog who had been killed in service. In preparation for working on the portrait, I was sent a photo of Freddy but required other pictures of Belgian Malinois, Freddy’s breed, since some details in his photo were unclear. Searching online, I began to learn about service animals and discovered that Belgian Malinois are often chosen to become Military Working Dogs and police dogs. As I painted, I received emails about Freddy’s life, death and memorial service, and thought more and more about the life of this heroic animal.

Freddy was born in 2007, and served with the FBI from September 8, 2008 to October 28, 2009. The FBI had raided a warehouse being used as a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, looking for several of its members who were wanted for a number of crimes. The Imam, who had a criminal record and refused to surrender, shot the FBI dog, Freddy, before the Imam himself was fatally shot by agents. Freddy was helicoptered to a veterinary hospital in Detroit, and although the doctors did everything they could to save his life, the wounds were fatal.

At his memorial service in Virginia, local police motorcycle officers escorted Freddy’s flag-draped casket to the FBI Academy, where the FBI Chaplain gave a moving invocation and where K-9 Police Officers and their dogs stood at attention behind a large crowd which included the veterinarians who tried to save his life. Other speakers followed and it was said that Freddy not only fit in with his team but also saw the humans as his pack!

The brass plaque added to the portrait I painted of Freddy reads:

FREDDY

February 17, 2007 – October 28, 2009
Then I heard the voice of the Lord
saying, “Whom shall I send?  And
who will go for us?”  And I said,
“Here am I.  Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8

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2012 AKC Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE) Winners

Keahi, Search & Rescue

By Langley Cornwell

The American Kennel Club has a deep respect for the canine-human bond and the extraordinary ways in which dogs contribute to people’s lives. Inspired to formalize their appreciation for this symbiotic relationship, in 1999 they started The AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE), and had their first presentation year in 2000.

For a dog to qualify, he must have done something that benefited an individual or a community. The dogs do not have to be AKC registered for this award; mixed breeds are given equal consideration. The AKC presents one award per year in these five categories: Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, Service, Therapy, and Exemplary Companion Dog. The 2012 ACE winners each received an engraved silver collar medallion and a check for $1,000 at a presentation ceremony in Florida on December 15th. The winners for this year are:

Search and Rescue

A seven-year-old Belgian Tervuren named Keahi is one of Arizona Search Track and Rescue’s most valuable assets. Certified in air-scent, avalanche, cadaver, evidence and human-remains searches, this dog’s services have helped search and rescue efforts in nine states and Canada. Keahi and her owner/handler Kristi Smith conduct around 43 searches per year.

Smith and Keahi have led investigators to the bodies of murder victims and drowning victims (including one who was found 170 feet underwater), found wandering seniors and lost children, and discovered crucial evidence in criminal investigations.

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