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A Dog With A Job (Or Five)

Dogs are an incredibly diverse species with over 360 officially recognised breeds which began with selective breeding for purpose. Man wanted a dog to help with the problems of everyday life like hunting, which eventually turned into farming and further evolved into the array of dog jobs there are today, so let's take a closer look at just a few of them.

One of the shiniest tools in a dog’s tool belt is their powerful nose. Dogs have up to 300 million scent receptors in their brain dedicated to their nose alone and can smell something in one part per trillion, the equivalent of one drop of scent in 20 olympic sized swimming pools! So it's not surprising that they have been employed to put that sniffing snoot to use.

It takes approximately 2-3 years to fully train a scent detection dog and they can been trained to sniff out things such as money, firearms and drugs for the police, IEDs for the military, lost people and cadavers for search and rescue and even sniff out rises and dips in blood sugar levels in diabetes patients and assist in the detection of triggers and markers for other illnesses. Now that's a lot of jobs!

Wolves are known to be endurance hunters, sometimes running at a speed of up to 35 mph across several kilometres to catch their prey and some breeds of dog such as the Siberian husky, alaskan malamute and samoyed have inherited that impressive strength and power. Though now, dog sledding is mostly used for racing and sport, it was integral in getting supplies through the icy plains of Canada as horses were not well equipped for a journey of such conditions.

Although dogs are now quite far removed from their wolf ancestors, they still have some strong instincts and it is those instincts that can really help them in the working world. The pastoral breeds such as the Anatolian shepherd, the Kelpie, the Huntaway and the more well known Border collie have the important job of shepherding and livestock guardian. Humans have been using dogs for moving and protecting livestock since 3585BC! They are able to work on all terrains in almost all weathers and don't damage the soil so it's no wonder that they are such a valuable addition to farming life.

Some breeds inherited the strength and power of the great sledders but also the intelligence and trainability of the herders. The German, Belgian and Dutch shepherd dogs are used for security, protection and as general purpose police dogs. These highly skilled dogs combine the talents of their keen nose, imposing frame and agility to do tasks such as tracking, deterring suspects from running and apprehending them if they do. There are as many as 25,000 police dogs working in the UK today to keep the streets safe.

Most dogs have an admirable work ethic and as “man’s best friend” they are only too happy to work for us (for the right fee of a tasty morsel of two of course). Assistance dogs are remarkable canine pals who learn specific tasks to make it easier for humans with disabilities to live independently. These tasks, such as putting a card in an ATM, putting the laundry in the washing machine and letting their handler know when their phone is ringing are usually taught using the dog’s problem solving skills. Some of the fabulous charity organisations that train assistance dogs include guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for deaf and canine partners.

When you look into your dog’s eyes, no matter the day, don’t you just instantly feel better? Us too! The remarkable thing is, this is a scientific fact! Just petting a dog can increase the release of hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin which are linked to feelings of love, bonding and elevated mood and it has even been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure, so it is no wonder that they are so suited to a job as a therapist. These dogs help people with PTSD, dementia, elderly people in isolation, long term sick and hospitalised people and children with learning difficulties just to name a few! How amazing is that?

The most important job our dogs could ever do is love us unconditionally and we think ours deserve a raise!


Happy national dog day, everyone! Thanks for reading, and remember to always keep learning!

-- Charlie and Tiana

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