The Jobs Dogs Do (Do you know them all?)
I really do not need an article to tell me the wonders of dogs. I’m already smitten. There is such joy in the unconditional love they offer from the moment you return home and open the front door and are greeted with tail wagging displays of happiness or the toe tapping anticipation when you pull the leash out of the cabinet for a walk. These canines have worked their way into our hearts and homes and are rightfully one of the most beloved animals in the world. Not only are they loyal, friendly companions but they have a wide range of skills that the world uses to make our lives easier, safer and well, just plain better! From the well known search-and-rescue to therapy work, dogs have a long history of serving humans in so many beautiful ways.
Here are some of the many jobs that dogs do for us:
Oh those sniffers!
Dogs are regularly used in both police, military & civilian work. Canines have an incredibly keen sense of smell and can be trained to detect drugs, bombs, explosives and other dangerous materials. But those discerning noses are not limited to sniffing out narcotics and things that go boom. Their super sharp sniffers can be put to work finding other things as well. For example, did you know that they are used to find pests, like bed bugs or non-permitted items (such as cell phones in jail)? Disney uses trained canines to make sure that their resort rooms are free from bed bugs. Dogs can even detect a scent diluted in a body of water!
Search and Rescue
Dogs are excellent at search and rescue. They are agile and can use their sense of smell and hearing to locate both missing people or animals, even in areas that humans can’t easily access. Search and rescue dogs are often used in natural disasters, such as earthquakes, avalanches and hurricanes, to help find survivors or to find those who may be lost in the wilderness. Did you know dogs can distinguish if a body they found is alive or deceased, allowing rescuers to focus resources on saving those who are still alive.
Dogs are also often used as therapy animals. They can provide comfort and companionship to people who are sick or disabled, and they can help reduce stress and anxiety in people who are struggling with mental health issues. Therapy dogs are often used in hospitals, nursing homes, in senior care homes and schools to help improve people’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Who doesn’t feel a little better after a sweet pet, a furry cuddle, a dog kiss or even just seeing a happy tail wag?
Herding and Farm Work
Dogs have worked alongside the farmer in herding and guarding precious livestock for centuries. Canines have a natural instinct to control the movement of animals, and they are often used on farms and ranches to round up or protect sheep, cattle, fowl, and other livestock. Some popular breeds used for livestock roundup and protection are Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, Great Pyrrenees but also include many other breeds like Corgis, Sheepdogs and German Shepherds.
A service dog, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act is one that “is individually trained to do work or perform a task for a person with a disability”. These can include a long (and thankfully growing) list of services. Some of the more well known service dog jobs include visual and hearing assistance but dogs can be used to alert to a seizure for someone with epilepsy, to changes in blood sugar (low or high) or changes in body temperature. Service dogs can calm the anxiety caused by PTSD, aid with a handler’s balance or anchor someone with Autism. We are constantly learning new ways these super sensing animals can be used to do everything from saving a life to making our day to day life more manageable.
In colder climates, dogs like Huskies are used for sled pulling. They can help transport goods across snowy terrain and access areas that might not otherwise be accessible. For wheelchair bound handlers, they can pull a wheelchair or help stabilize the balance and gait of a walker so they can more independently physically navigate through life.
Guardians of the People and Stuff
Dogs can serve as guards that provide protection to people, homes and businesses. According to our local police department, the simple presence of a dog can act as a deterrent to would-be burglars or attackers who do not want to deal with complication of a dog (trained, untrained, small or large–so even a small barking dog may ward off an intruder who doesn’t want the attention a bark can bring). Trained guard dogs can flush out an intruder or clear a building and the police and military often use K9’s (dog team members) for this very job. The military has been known to use dogs like the Belgian Malinois to provide protection to its members.
In short, dogs have a wide and ever increasing range of talents and abilities that we continue to discover and utilize. From law enforcement and military work, to therapy and herding, dogs have proven themselves as invaluable members of society. They provide us with companionship, comfort, and security, and they have become an essential and even life saving part of our lives.
Hopefully you are a little more smitten, too!
Cheers to dogs and the jobs they do!