dog and sunset

Salute to Working Dogs

Salute to working dogs

Dogs may be “man’s best friend” but they can also be our best helper and workmate as well.  Ever since wolves first started to socialize with our cave-dwelling ancestors, participating in the process and spoils of the hunt, they’ve formed an integral part of our households and, in many instances, an indispensable part of our society.  Not only do dogs contribute to our general emotional and mental well-being, but they frequently perform specific tasks and ‘jobs’ as working dogs.  So, here is the Onpets salute to our hard-working canine companions.

First Evidence of Domesticated Dogs

wolfIn a 2013 research paper published in Nature Communications,  the authors conducted “whole-genome sequencing of multiple grey wolves, Chinese indigenous dogs and dogs of diverse breeds” and concluded that Chinese indigenous dogs split from wolves as a separate breed as early as 32,000 years ago.  The authors theorize that this may indicate that dogs were domesticated far earlier than previously thought.

A “working dog” takes this one step further to indicate a dog who has been trained to entertain or assist humans.  We already know, from prior Onpets articles, that there are thousands of service dogs (and horses)  around the world, including therapy dogs , emotional support and psychiatric service animals .  But what other types of jobs do dogs perform for us?  Read on to find out and let us know if we left anything out…

Jobs Dogs Perform

  • herd dogsSearch and Rescue: These highly trained canines perform either both search and then rescue duties or just rescue and are deployed during natural disasters (e.g. earth quakes), man-made disasters (e.g. 9/11 Tower collapse) and for specific rescue situations (e.g. newfoundland dogs trained for water rescues).
  • Herding: Used for centuries to herd livestock.
  • Sled dogs: Still used in places like Alaska to deliver medications and supplies and to explore remote places like Antarctica.
  • Carting/Pulling: Some large breed dogs are still used to pull carts of supplies and small wheeled vehicles for single passengers.
  • Hunting and Flushing (as in birds, not toilets)
  • Guarding
  • Police K9 surviving degenerative myelopathyPolice dogs: Read about Bronko, a K-9 officer with Degenerative Myelopathy who was able to return to work after receiving holistic therapies including acupuncture and Chinese herbal remedies.
  • Tracking: Either in conjunction with police work or working with hunters.
  • Cadaver Detection
  • Cancer Detection: Just like cats and other animals, dogs smell certain chemicals humans produce when suffering from a variety of health conditions, including cancer, and can be trained to alert to those conditions even before conventional testing confirms a diagnosis.
  • Drug Detection: As we know, a dog’s nose has over 40 times more smell receptors than a human nose does and can smell things we humans would never be able to detect.
  • Truffle Location: Like pigs, the Lagotto Romagnolo breed of dog can be trained to sniff out these delectable fungi.
  • army dogWar: Many a brave K-9 member of the military has given her life in the service of our country to protect her human compatriots.
  • Mascots
  • Racing: Typically Greyhounds but thankfully, this is becoming more rare as we learn more about the hard life these sweet hounds are subjected to during their racing years.
  • Entertainment: Who doesn’t know about Lassie, Benji, Old Yeller and Toto?

Tell us about a Working Dog in your life

Do you have or know a working dog?  Tell us your story and send us pictures and we’ll put together a montage of Onpets community working dogs.



©Onpets, LLC 2017.  All rights reserved.

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