Dogs are pretty special. They have many unique skills and traits that make them perfectly adapted for unusual and unexpected tasks. Throughout history we have relied on our canine companions to perform various tasks - as guide dogs, bomb-sniffing experts and even therapy companions. But a dog's unique skills don't stop there. Over the years, these animals have been trained to work some pretty incredible jobs...
For decades, the Italian School for Rescue Dogs has been training dogs to save people from drowning. Known as lifedogs, these pooches are specially trained water rescue dogs who go through a vigorous 3 year training program before graduating. Lifedogs are paired up with a human lifeguard. Lifedogs and lifeguards have a special bond, working alongside each other to protect people.
These special dogs assist in areas of rescue where humans may naturally lack, such as the ability to jump easily from a helicopter or other moving platform. All lifedogs typically wear a harness which tows a buoy for drowning victims to grab, or a raft they can sit on to be towed back safely to shore. The dogs work at beaches and alongside the Italian Coastguard. Today, there are around 300 to 400 trained lifedogs helping to keep the waters safe in Italy as well as a few other countries, including Germany and Switzerland.
Image via Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
In 2018, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, employed a Weimaraner puppy named Riley to inspect artefacts and priceless objects. He is a volunteer being trained to detect pests such as beetles and moths that could cause damaging infestations in the museum. The pooch is trained to sit down in front of an artefact if he smells an insect in or near it, which can help preserve thousands of priceless objects. Riley's role at the museum is still viewed as a bit of an experiment since dogs haven't been typically used for this job - making him a pioneer in his field! You can follow his journey on social media using the hashtag #RileyTheMuseumDog.
Conservation canines at the University of Washington are being trained to sniff out faeces from threatened and endangered species so that the human team of researchers can study the animals it belongs to. Some of these trained dogs spend their career on a research boat because they are specifically searching for whale droppings. The dogs ride on a boat alongside the researchers and when they smell whale faeces they alert their team by moving to the front of the vehicle. Once the poo is found, humans can use it for researching why these animals are in danger of becoming extinct, checking things about the whale's health and reproductive status.
We hope you enjoyed learning about these incredible canines!