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Dog Food Can Be Life Changing
FBI working dogs must earn their meals and are hand-fed every morsel.
So here's the difference between my companion dogs and FBI working dogs. My dogs must sit politely and make eye contact with me before I put down their food bowls. FBI dogs must detect one of 19,000 possible explosives combinations and before their handler feeds them their meal by hand. This simple act reinforces their will to work and strengthens the bond with their handler. In fact, these...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Puppy Raisers Wanted
Volunteers teach young dogs new tricks
Picture your dog in a high school cafeteria at lunchtime. A food fight breaks out. Muffins fly, meatballs roll. Would your dog watch with stoic composure? Silvia Lange, of Nicasio, Calif., tells the story of a teenage puppy raiser in her local Canine Companions for Independence group who found herself in this situation. “I doubt many other service dogs are socialized to food fights. It was a...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
The Making of a Guide Dog
From puppy to partner, guide dogs are a special breed
Each year, guide dog schools—independent nonprofit organizations that provide guide dogs for blind and visually impaired individuals—breed close to 3,000 dogs. When so many intelligent, loving shelter dogs are in need of homes, why don’t guide dog schools rescue dogs like some of the other service-dog programs? The answer lies in the nature of the work guide dogs are required to do. Dog jobs,...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Prison Pups
Pioneering program gives both women and dogs a second chance
Connie lathers a small brown Terrier in a waist-high tub. She wears a T-shirt and waterproof apron, and wields the gallon jug of shampoo as though it were much lighter. Her face is pink and shines from the heat of dog dryers and exertion. “She’s a little mad about this whole ordeal,” Connie says, referring to the bather, Bella, as she massages soap down the dog’s legs and paws, rinses, and...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Search Dog Foundation
An SAR call to action
In the wake of a disaster, the first critical task is to find survivors. To accomplish this, we turn to dogs for help. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, mudslides, terrorist attacks—search and rescue teams are on the spot and on the job until the last person is found. The nonprofit National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) estimates that the nation needs more than 400 Advanced Certified...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
YAPS Brings Hope to Cancer Victims
Pet pen pals lend a loving paw
The diagnosis of cancer is life-altering for all who are touched by it. When a child or a loving pet bears this burden, the tragedy seems particularly unfair, and brings cancer’s arbitrary and random selection home on a whole new level. Today, cancer is the number-one natural killer of dogs, regardless of breed, gender or age. In Denver, Colo., a unique support program is helping young human and...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Pet Detective
With a leash and a prayer, Kat Albrecht pursues an admirable goal: improve the odds when a best friend goes missing.
It’s a cloudy, late-winter morning in Clovis, just outside Fresno, Calif. The night before had been stormy, and later, a tornado will touch down nearby. You wouldn’t want your dog or cat roaming in weather like this. But somewhere out there, hungry and wet, might be Tinkerbell and Pumpkin. The skinny, tiger-striped, two-year-old mother cat and her look-a-like five-month-old kitten have been...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Conservation Dogs Work for Wildlife
Canine skills put to work in aid of the world’s vulnerable species.
With her head slightly lowered and a telling wag of her tail, Briar—a German Shepherd of Czechoslovakian origin—cast an expectant glance in my direction. Her body language was loud and clear: She had found what we were looking for and congratulations were in order. Sure enough, hidden in the depths of the prickly scrub in front of Briar was a desert tortoise, the focus of our pilot study in...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
The UnMusher
Restoring mistreated and abandoned sled dogs to health.
I push the glow button on my watch. Midnight. An enormous black cat and a Pit Bull mix snooze contentedly on my bed. I, too, was sleeping deeply, and it takes me a moment to remember where I am: a one-room cabin, 20 miles east of Fairbanks, Alaska. I climb down a ladder through a hole in the floor of the loft into a dog den and gingerly pick my way between paws and tails to a portable indoor john...
Dog's Life: Work of Dogs
Truffle Dogs
Wanted: A dog who can keep a secret … and a nose to the ground.
If a truffle grows in the forest and no one can smell it, is it really there? That’s what Charles Lefevre, a professional mycologist and grower of “truffle trees,” has been asking himself lately. Since 2001, his company, New World Truffieres, has been supplying seedlings to aspiring truffle farmers across the United States and Canada. Any time now, the trees Lefevre’s customers have purchased...

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