The DogPeople Blog
  1. How animals’ skills are put to work (article kindly provided by Jake Holyoak from Mediaworks)

    Whether you’re an animal lover or not, there’s no denying that their skills are vital in so many walks of life. Whether it’s dogs helping the blind, horses aiding our police force or rats finding land mines, some jobs are just so much more fitted to animals than their human compatriots.

    Here, with Cliverton, who offers insurance for dog trainers, we look at how their skills are put to work and exactly how it helps the world’s population:

    Dogs on the job
    Our canine friends may be the most common working animal. Their skills are seemingly endless and have been put to the test in many forms over the years, including guide dogs. This helps blind people greatly, enabling them to carry on with their day-to-day life as normal as possible.

    Then there are the dogs who help our forces. The police have their very own K-9 unit which is made up of highly skilled and trained dogs. Their main duties include general purpose – helping officers on the beat, firearms support, searching, tracking, criminal work, sporting events, narcotics and explosives detection, scanning people for narcotics and weapon detection. General purpose dogs are often German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and Dutch Herders due to their stature and all police dogs are specifically trained to be extremely obedient.

    The Armed Forces also have a dog force, with springer spaniels used as arms and explosive search dogs. Recently, Buster, the pooch said to have completed more tours than any other military dog and saved thousands of lives with the RAF by sniffing out bombs and booby traps, sadly passed away.

    Then there’s sheepdogs. This breed, when taught correctly, can save a shepherd or farmer a lot of time and effort by gathering, handling and driving sheep to the location you want them – doing so without disturbing the flock or putting them under stress. They do this by gathering the sheep in a pear-shaped outrun.

    Horse power
    Like dogs, the police use horses as a ‘presence’ and deterrent. They are normally found helping crowd control at large events and demonstrations and add height and visibility to the officers. During their training, they are deployed to numerous scary situations and sounds during ‘nuisance’ training. This enables the force to be confident they won’t be phased during any altercation.

    Of course, horses are also often used as a mode of transport. On the Gili Islands in Indonesia for example, horse, foot and pedal power are your only options to get around the island – there are no cars or motorbikes!

    Dolphin detection
    The military also use the intelligence of dolphins to help them perform underwater tasks. Their advanced sonar-like system allows a dolphin to easily detect any mines and intruders in murky and deep waters. The US military also uses their incredible vision on offer by sea lions to complete similar tasks.

    Rat reliance
    The rodent is known for its strong sense of smell – so much so the African giant pouched rats can sniff out deadly land mines but are too light to make them blow up. This allows us to locate these devices and dispose of them before they have a catastrophic impact. It’s said to take approximately nine months to train a rat in this way and are given treats such as bananas for a job well done.

    Chief mouser
    Even the UK’s Prime Minister has a working pet. The Royal Family may be home of the corgis, but 10 Downing Street welcomes a cat through its doors. However, it’s not simply for a companion if the going gets tough, Britain’s leader welcomes a feline and appoints it ‘chief mouser’ and it is tasked with protecting the building from mice and other rodents! This role dates back to the 1500s during the reign of Henry VIII.

    Bee safe
    Yes, our fuzzy little friends can offer more to us than the glorious thing we call honey. It turns out that they can detect certain chemicals and make a certain buzzing sound to indicate what chemical has been released into the air. This has helped us detect chemicals in our environment and has even be considered as a useful tool if ever there were chemical warfare attacks!

    Of course, the list could be endless. Every animal has their uses – remember carrier pigeons? It’s clear to see that animals have so much to offer and humans should be grateful that we grace this earth with such skilful creatures.