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Dogs with Unusual Jobs

Dogs
Dogs have been working alongside humans for thousands of years and it doesn’t look like they’re about to retire any time soon.

From Oddball, the famous penguin protecting dog that inspired a movie of the same name, to Migaloo, the world’s first archeology dog, we're amazed at the abilities and intelligence of our canine companions! 

The new detectives

Thanks to their exceptional sense of smell, which is up to 10,000 times stronger than a human’s, dogs make excellent detectives. Sniffer dogs, working at airports, in quarantine, and with police, are a familiar sight. The possibilities of what they can detect with the super noses seems to have no limit, and dogs are sniffing out new employment opportunities in a range of areas. 

Pest patrol

In Queensland, dogs have helped almost entirely eradicate fire ants from Gladstone, thanks to a world-first program. The Biosecurity Queensland fire ant detection dogs have done what humans couldn’t — find the fire ant colonies that needed to be eradicated. Dogs are also being used to detect the invasive introduced species the red-eared slider turtle, preventing the damage this introduced species has done to the natural environment. And in Victoria, ‘botanist puppies’ have been trained to detect noxious weeds. Working with their handlers, they’re helping to clear the Kosciuszko National Park of the invasive orange and mouse ear hawkweed plants.

Archeology adventurer

Migaloo, the world’s first archeology dog, can detect ancient human remains and fossils that are millions of years old. Working with her trainer, she’s detected 600-year-old human remains — the oldest ever found — and fossils dated between 2.6 million and 5.3million years old. What an incredible feat! 

Truffle hunters

On truffle farms around Australia, dogs are taking over from pigs as truffle hunters. While pigs might have a better sense of smell, dogs are less likely to indulge in the delectable treat themselves. Pigs still have a place though — digging up unformed and rotten truffles at the end of the season.

Safe and secure

We’ve long seen dogs protecting property and livestock. The special herding and security skills of sheep dogs can also be put to use to keep wildlife safe and out of undesirable areas. 

Penguin protectors

After foxes devastated the local penguin population in Warrnambool, the town took an unconventional approach and employed Oddball, a Maremma sheepdog, to protect the birds. The idea was a success, and the story inspired the movie Oddball. Although Oddball sadly passed away in early 2017, sister Maremmas Eudy and Tula carry on her work guarding the flock.

Seagull security

You’ve probably heard of a junkyard dog, but what about a shipyard dog? The Australian National Maritime Museum recently recruited Bailey, a rescue working dog, to fend off seagulls that had been causing a mess on the wharf and the ships docked there.

Runway rover 

Airport guard dogs, like Piper in Traverse City's Cherry Capital Airport in Michigan, US, patrol the tarmac to detect small mammals and prevent birds of prey from hunting in an aircraft's path. By keeping animals off the runway, they help the airport run smoothly and keep not only the airline travellers safe, but visiting animals too.

Political animals

In 2016, the town of Cormorant in the US elected Duke the dog as their mayor for the third time in a row. And Duke’s not even the first dog to be mayor. The town of Rabbit Hash in the US has had four canine mayors to date.


Jen Lofgren
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