Thoughts from the Wild

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Termite Dogs and Other Pest-Detecting Canines

May 23, 2019

When your dog peers under the kitchen stove growling for hours, you can be pretty sure there’s some kind of varmint under there. If you’re lucky, your pet comes by these pest-hunting skills naturally, and somehow, the unwelcome critter will disappear. Other dogs, however, are specially trained to hone their hunting skills on vermin of …

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Born to Pull: Carting and Drafting Dogs

April 18, 2019

Over the years, horses have been used to pull just about every type of wagon, from covered wagons to hay wagons and even beer wagons. But did you know that dogs also have a place in cart-pulling history? Pulling their weight Since about the 18th century, dogs often pitched in around the farm by pulling …

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Show Dogs: Competing on the Catwalk

March 21, 2019

So much fluffing and buffing goes on behind the scenes at dog shows. And all for what? A few minutes in the spotlight in front of the judges? Perhaps. A six-figure cash prize? Not likely, since competitions like the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show generally award trophies rather than cash. As it turns out, many …

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Good Hunting Dogs Are Vital Partners in the Field

January 24, 2019

Hunting dogs, it seems, like nothing better than tracking down game such as a pheasant, retrieving it with a soft mouth and obediently laying it at the feet of their owners. But hunting and fetching are two different activities! Other dogs love to fetch — almost as much as they adore the ensuing game of …

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Step Right Up: It’s Circus Dogs

December 13, 2018

In its time, few things offered more entertainment in one place than the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Within three different rings, you could marvel at sword swallowers, trapeze artists, contortionists and strongmen. In addition to human entertainers, the circus showed off animal acts, enlisting animals with special talents. In fact, the circus employed a menagerie …

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Cadaver Dogs Do Spooky but Necessary Work

October 18, 2018

Sad but true: Sometimes search-and-rescue operations become recovery missions. Whether it’s a missing person, a cold case, a crime scene or a natural disaster, cadaver dogs apply their finely tuned noses to pinpoint the location of remains that help solve mysteries and bring closure to grieving families. A Daunting Job Description Also known as human-remains …

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Following Bread Crumbs: Gluten-Sniffing Dogs

September 27, 2018

Just how sensitive is a dog’s sense of smell? Theoretically, it can detect a single spoon of sugar dissolved in a million gallons of water, the equivalent of two Olympic-sized pools, according to Alexandra Horowitz, author of the bestselling Inside a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know. Now, trainers are channeling those talented snouts …

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Can Prison Inmates and Dogs Rescue Each Other?

August 23, 2018

It all started in 1975 when a state hospital inmate brought an injured bird back to the ward. Noticing that the bird improved the behavior of other inmates, the staff initiated an animal therapy program. The impact was profound: Inmates with access to animals required 50 percent less medication and were less violent than inmates …

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