Working Dogs

Working Dogs

Jan 14th 2016

What is a working dog and what kinds are there?

When we think of working dogs most people recognize and think of police K9 dogs working. But there are so many other kinds of working dogs that people don’t realize are out there working. Some of these working dogs do jobs that the public never sees or knows is taking place. For example most large stadiums have bomb detection dogs that sweep the grounds looking for explosives before the event begins. The railroad has working dogs that go into box cars that are waiting in the train yards, looking for stowaways. It is safer to send a dog up in a box car first before the railroad employee looks into the car. And Disneyland has many underground tunnels and they have dogs that do security work down in the tunnels. Even our president has protection from secret service working dogs that are there behind the scenes.

There are so many dogs with important jobs that benefit mankind. I recently was at an S&R seminar and speaking with a gal who does cadaver dog work with her dogs. She was telling me about a find one of her dogs made. The dog indicated the scent of human remains; they marked where they were on the GPS and sent the dog on the search, the dog found the suicide victim one mile away in a tree. Think of that amazing ability of that dog to smell that scent one mile away. There are many kinds of working S&R (search & rescue) dogs that are providing a great service. There is wilderness tracking and trailing, this is what I do with my dog. My dog when tracking is looking for a specific scent that I start him on. It could be a piece of clothing or anything that was used by the person we are looking for. There are air scent dogs, we have two air scent dogs in our S&R group, and these dogs are working the air looking for any human scent. There are water S&R dogs. The scent of a person can travel many feet up through the water to the surface of the water. I know of a group of S&R dogs that work in the mountains of New Mexico who work alongside horses.

Then there are those wonderful service dogs that assist disabled persons. This is a huge category with a large variety of jobs that the dogs can do. I have seen a five pound Chihuahua that did diabetic alert. Even the Dr. did not believe this about this little dog until he saw it with his own eyes. Many of the service dogs become so in tune with their handlers. A few years ago I trained and placed one of our German Shepherd dogs with a disabled service veteran who needed the assistance of a dog pulling her wheelchair and mobility work. She also suffered with debilitating migraine headaches, which meant days in a dark room until the headaches were gone. The dog had been with her a few weeks and one day came over to her and started to pinch up and down her arm. Her thoughts were what is wrong, do you need to go out to the bathroom. Shortly after that she had a migraine, which meant taking medication and lying down in a dark room. Sometime after that this same thing occurred and shortly after the dog did this pinching thing a migraine began. The third time this took place she realized that the dog was indicating that a migraine was coming and she took the medication right away and the migraine lasted 4 hours rather than days. This dog has learned when a migraine is coming before the actual onset of it and gives her that indication. What a wonderful tool this service dog has been to her. Service dogs can perform physical and psychical tasks for their handlers.

Another kind of working dog is the Therapy dog. Therapy dogs provide a kind of psychical therapy for those they meet. I know of a very tiny little dog who works in the children’s section of the hospital. Her name is Tiki and she is so small she fits in her handler’s lab coat pocket. When they visit a child’s hospital room Tiki arrives in the room hidden in the coat pocket and then is presented to the child. Tiki brings many smiles and happiness to those children. There are working therapy dogs who work in the children’s library reading program. Many nursing homes have therapy dogs who regularly visit the residents. I know of a short haired collie that is part of a special needs school class room. The dog has been a benefit to the atmosphere of the class room.

There are many types of working dogs that are out there to help mankind so I guess dogs really are man’s best friend.