Dogs are mankind’s best friends. From the moment humans tricked wolves into being friends with some leftover food, the evolution of humans and dogs went hand in hand. Today we bred our best friends into an amazing range of breeds to suit whatever chores we’d like to do for ourselves. From German shepherds to lap dogs, there is a dog for every job – and some of those jobs are stranger than you might think.
Here are ten jobs you never knew a dog could do.
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Is there anything more comforting than a dog who trusts you enough to let you pet them? When they put their head on your knee, you know you’ve made a new friend. It’s not just a warm feeling they can convey – dogs have been used to aid the legal system with their calming presence.
Children who testify in court can bring them to justice because of the pressures the situation puts on them. With a judge, attorneys, and jury all staring at them, a young child can be terribly intimidated. This is where a dog companion can come in handy. Dogs are used to help children testify.
A trained dog can help a child from the moment they report a crime to the police until they speak in court. In court, the dog is usually hidden behind the stand with the witness. This way you can comfort the child without distracting the jury, as people often pay more attention to a dog than to the person with them.
Dogs and religion are a divine combination. From St. Roche, a saint who was comforted by his dog, to St. Christopher, who was often depicted with a dog’s head, to St. Guinefort, a dog who was made a saint, mankind’s love for dogs is often came close to worship. On a more secular level, monks and churches often kept dogs to guard their gates. A monastery in Bolivia has decided that a dog is such a good boy that it deserves its own uniform.
Brother Carmelo is a schnauzer. Carmelo was photographed in a miniature version of the monks’ own habit, taken from a puppet used to amuse children. Since then, the dog brother has become a social media favorite. His internet fans have dubbed him Friar Mustache for his distinctive facial hair.
While the official belief of Catholics is that animals cannot go to heaven because they lack eternal souls (their souls die with their bodies), some popes have left the pearl gates ajar for our animal lovers. Pope Paul VI Said to a boy whose dog had died, “One day we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all God’s creatures. “
8th Truffle hunter
Truffles are one of the most valuable foods in the world. Because of their symbiotic relationship with trees and their complex life cycle, we are unable to grow truffles. If we want their rich flavors in our food, we have to hunt them down – but not with our own limited noses.
Some animals have a much more sensitive sense of smell than we do. Pigs are known for their ability to wipe out truffles underground, but they also tend to eat the truffles they find. Dogs devour the precious mushrooms much less often. Some dogs are trained to associate the distinctive scent of truffles with pleasure just a few days after they are born.
In Italy today, the Lagotto Romagnolo dog breed is mainly associated with truffle hunting. It used to be a hunting dog and still is – just not hunting animals.
7th Ball dogs
Catching and retrieving balls is one of the favorite pastimes for our dog lovers. Why do we use boys and girls for this task in tennis games? A Brazilian tennis tournament wanted to answer this question. Several dogs taken from the streets of Sao Paulo and disguised as ball boys and girls and released in the square.
However, the goal of the game wasn’t to replace their human counterparts. Since the dogs were strays, it was hoped that the audience who saw the dogs would want to adopt them. In the first year, all four ball dogs were adopted. Soon more strays were brought in.
The strays weren’t always the most obedient court assistants. They quickly mastered getting the balls but were sometimes unwilling to give them back to the players. And they were only used for warming up – who could focus on a tennis match when there are dogs to watch?
6th Art protection
When we think of dogs as protectors of valuable items, we are more likely to think of snarling guard dogs that press against their chains to repel predators. However, Riley protects the visual arts from more subtle dangers. Riley the Museum Dog works at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston to discover the many pests that can harm the preservation of works of art.
Pests like moths and rats can destroy art even in the best of museums. Riley uses his nose to sniff them out before they can wreak havoc. Riley was introduced to the museum at a young age to get used to his surroundings and to train him not to damage the artworks themselves.
Riley has been a mascot for the museum ever since, and even appears in his own book – The Adventures of Riley, the Museum Dog.
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5 Cancer detector
A dog’s nose is incredibly sensitive. While humans have around 6 million receptors for odor, dogs can have up to 300 million. Dogs also devote a much larger part of their brain to interpreting the smells they discover. It is therefore not surprising that dogs can spy out things that we cannot possibly imagine.
Some dogs are so sensitive to changes in smell that they can tell by their smell when their owners are getting sick. Other dogs can be trained to recognize certain illnesses in people they have never met. Daisy the dog was trained to recognize who has cancer. After reviewing over 6,000 samples, she correctly identified 550 people with cancer – including their owner.
“Daisy cuddled and scratched my chest one day, which really alarmed me,” said her owner. “I checked it out and was told I had early-stage breast cancer. Luckily I was able to have it removed, but if it hadn’t been for Daisy it would have gone undetected for much longer and could have been more serious. “
Daisy was awarded a Blue Cross Medal in 2014 for her work in healthcare.
4th Cheetah freezing
The health benefits of a dog are well known. In addition to the exercise we get from playing with dogs, there are dramatic mental health benefits. Loneliness and depression can both be reduced by having a dog’s comforting company – and not just in humans.
Cheetahs are designed for speed and sprinting across the vast plains of Africa. A small enclosure in a zoo can make them anxious and depressed. Constantly on the lookout for larger predators, they may feel threatened by the hordes of people who stare at them. A dog can be the perfect companion to calm the cheetah.
Despite the mythical antagonism believed to exist between cats and dogs, both animals seem to enjoy being in each other’s company. The dogs provide a calming presence and a sense of camaraderie while the cheetahs give the dogs a playmate.
3 Anti-tank dog
Not all jobs given to dogs go down well on social media. In times of war, people often recruit their animals as allies. These animals can be used as pack animals, guards, or even weapons. The anti-tank dogs of the Soviets were designed as weapons – and also as single-use weapons.
The plan was to use the dogs as a means of delivering bombs to the vulnerable underside of enemy tanks. At first the dogs were trained to release their bombs when they arrived, but in the chaos of the battle this proved too much for the dogs. They would often return to their handlers with a living and dangerous bob still strapped to the back. Next, the dogs were armed with bombs, which exploded as soon as they hit the tank.
Unfortunately, the Russians used their own tanks to train the dogs. Thinking they would find a treat under a tank, the dogs picked the ones they were most familiar with.
When anti-tank dogs were used in actual combat, most were killed before they even reached tanks. Some turned back to their coaches and had to be shot on their own side. Fortunately, this is a canine job that no good guys need to train to do.
2 Penguin protection
Invasive species can completely wipe out a species, and human attempts to stop such species from spreading can often backfire tragically. In one case, however, the results were cute. On Middle Island, off the south coast of Australia, there is a colony of the world’s smallest penguin species, but they are threatened by foxes.
The fairy penguins are as petite and cute as they sound, but they have no natural defense against foxes. Natural changes to the coast had allowed foxes to get onto the island at low tide. When researchers checked the penguin population on the island after foxes got there, they found that hundreds of penguins had been killed. In two nights, foxes slaughtered 360 of the miniature birds.
It was a local chicken farmer named Swampy Marsh who came up with a solution. He was used to protecting birds from murderous foxes and suggested guarding the penguins with dogs. In the ten years that dogs have protected fairy penguins, there has not been a single death from foxes.
1 Max the Mayor
Even the most popular politicians will have their critics. However, you would have a hard time finding someone who hates the Mayor of Idyllwild, California – he’s a dog. Born Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller II has been mayor since he was eleven.
Mayor Max is not the first dog to be named Mayor of Idyllwild. His predecessor Max I died in office and the current mayor was found after a hasty search for a replacement. First Mayor Max won his position at a charity event against a number of other pets. Since Idyllwild is a town with no legal personality, it has no government of its own and Max’s position is largely voluntary.
Max II now spends his time bringing luck to his constituents. He’s wearing a tie and can often be seen on weekends driving around town on a pickup truck, barking at his fans. Despite an “assassination attempt” when another dog grabbed Max’s neck, his lifelong appointment seems to be going on for some time.
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