Canines With Careers: Real Dog Jobs
Man’s best friend is one of man’s best co-workers.
Sarah Burns · 2 months ago
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Humans aren't the only ones capable of a hard day's work. And dogs love what they do! In fact, many aspects of the job that humans consider “work” are just naturally how dogs like to interact, problem-solve, and play. It also helps them stay active and healthy, and it keeps their brains sharp, because there’s lots to learn on the job. Plus, they get to hang out with their best friends all day — their human co-workers!
Dogs are so great at herding that it’s actually a classification of dog breeds, which includes Collies, Corgis, and the aptly named Shepherds. They’re super smart, and they make wonderful farm workers. Many of these farm jobs — like keeping sheep and goats in line, guarding hen houses, and guiding cattle out of pastures and back to the safety of their corrals — they’ve been doing for literally thousands of years!
Runway Wildlife Control
Airlines are required by law to keep runways clear so planes can take off and land safely. That can be a challenge, especially in rural areas where airports are smaller and local wildlife like flocks of birds or curious deer might be wandering around. Cue the Runway Wildlife Control! They chase away any critters that come too close, and they keep the path clear for incoming planes and passengers.
Before the invention of the modern engine, horse-drawn fire engines were the norm in big cities like New York. The fire department needed a solution to getting through traffic when there was an emergency, so they brought in dalmation helpers to run ahead of the engines and clear the way.
Eventually horse-drawn carriages were replaced with modern day engines, but many firehouses opted to keep their puppy pals. Today, fire dogs serve as companions, mascots, and firehall pest-catchers.
Nowadays, we have snowmobiles, airplanes, and trucks, but for a long time having a team of dogs to pull your sled (called “mushing”) was the only way to traverse the frozen Arctic. For some rural communities in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, this is still the case, and sled dog teams are still used for services like mail delivery.
Sled racing is also a hugely popular sport across the Arctic, with teams training throughout the year to prepare for this highly competitive sport. Teams will train all year long, honing their skills to prove which team is the fastest.
These are helper dogs specifically trained to assist an individual with a disability. You can tell these dogs are working by their vests, which usually say something like “Do not pet. Service Dog,” so well-intentioned humans don’t distract the dogs while they’re working.
Service dogs can guide people with limited sight towards the safest path, or find and retrieve belongings around the home. They can help individuals with mobility difficulties by moving objects out of their way, and by carrying items from one place to another. Some service dogs can even detect low blood sugar, which can be very dangerous for diabetics!
Emotional Support Animals
Dogs are loyal, empathetic companions, which make them wonderful Emotional Support Animals, or ESAs. These dogs are usually recommended by a doctor, and they’re typically part of a larger strategy to help support a person's emotional health and well-being. People with mental illness or autism sometimes rely on ESAs to help reduce anxiety during stressful situations.
They can be any breed, but the best therapy dogs are super chill, friendly, and sociable. Handlers often take therapy dogs to nursing homes, schools, and hospitals to offer temporary emotional support and comfort. Anyone can train a dog to be a therapy dog, but they need to participate and pass a special dog certification program in order to make the rounds to start helping people.
These are doggos with the strongest of snoots! Detection dogs often work with police to help sniff out illegal drugs or weapons, they can help find missing people or property, and they will occasionally help chase down suspects! Some work with trained medical professionals to sniff out diseases, and certain cancers. Others work out in nature, sniffing out wild truffles for mushroom connoisseurs or tracking down other animals so we can have a better understanding of how to protect their habitat.
In parts of Italy, Scandinavia, and across Europe, Labradors, Newfoundlands, and Golden Retrievers patrol the shores with their human counterparts to make the beaches a safer place. These water-loving dogs are equipped with special harnesses that allow them to carry floatation devices out into the water to help prevent drownings, and they’re better than humans at locating a person in dark or muddy waters. Training starts as a pup and continues through the dog’s lifetime with their human lifeguard co-workers.