You’ve probably heard of dogs using their noses to perform tasks like locating explosives, locating missing people, or even detecting medical needs such as detecting cancer or predicting an impending attack. Those aren’t the only things dogs’ noses are good for, though.
In fact, their super sniffers are often better at detecting things than our best machines. There are countless ways they can put their nose to good use. People have come up with quite a few chores for pups that have to do with their superhero-like sense of smell.
Here are some of the weirdest jobs dogs have done with their noses.
1. Save artworks
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston employed a furry employee to look after their precious works.
Riley the Weimaraner is trained to detect moths and other insects that feed on fabric, wood, paper and more. Museums need constant pest control to protect valuable and irreplaceable objects.
Riley can detect artificial insects and warn his human partner by sitting in front of patches of vermin. A human can then examine the work for signs of damage.
Pest detection isn’t just good for saving art. Dogs have also been used to track down grubs on golf courses so they can be eliminated before they become a problem. Hopefully Riley will help fix bugs and save valuable bits of human culture.
2. Finding Whale Poop
Tucker is one of several dogs trained by Conservation Canine, a program that puts dogs’ noses to good use to help endangered animals.
It may sound gross to sniff whale poop, but Tucker is helping scientists track down the feces that contain valuable clues about the creatures’ genetic identities, diets, where their prey came from, hormone levels, pregnancy stages, and scientists can even tell if there are any are pollutants in the whales’ systems.
Whales aren’t the only endangered species whose poo is tracked down by trained pups. The program that Tucker trained also trains dogs to find feces from spotted owls, caribou, wolves and tigers, among others.
These dogs give endangered species a fighting chance by helping conservationists gain information that can help them conserve the environment and ecosystem.
3. Sniffing Bedbugs
Bed bugs are a growing problem in many of the major cities in the United States, and one way to control the infestation is to rely on bed bug detection dogs.
Roscoe is one such pup who can smell these tiny creatures that leave fecal excrement no bigger than an ink stain. Bed bugs can detect with an accuracy of up to 98 percent, although that sometimes causes a problem.
Bed bug odors can linger on clothing, float through vents, or be brought in by other animals or people. This means that the dogs sometimes indicate that there is an infestation when it is not. This may be one of the few cases where being too good at your job is a bad thing.
However, many people have benefited from dogs like Roscoe finding bed bugs before they can become a problem.
4. Finding the Mushrooms
Have you ever had delicious truffles with your meal? If you’ve eaten a fancy French or Italian dish, you may have tasted one of these tasty and expensive mushrooms.
The reason they cost so much is that they are hard to find, especially ones that are ripe and ready to eat. Rare truffles can be sold for $2,000 a pound or more.
One of the best ways to find them is with a trained truffle hunting dog. While there are several breeds with great sniffers often used for truffle hunting, any dog with a decent nose can be trained for scent work. For that reason, many ordinary people go on truffle hunting with their dogs as a hobby.
So the next time you try one of these treats, just remember that a pup may have tracked it down for you.
5. Detect Computer Hardware
In modern times, there are countless crimes that people can commit using computers, hard drives and other forms of technology. This is a challenge for the police, as USB sticks and storage devices are sometimes very small and difficult to find.
While small discs may be difficult for us humans to spot, they are no problem for dogs trained to detect the smell of hardware. Bear, a black Labrador, is a trained dog, and he was integral to the arrest of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle years ago.
He managed to find a data storage device in Jared’s house that was used as evidence for his conviction. Bear went to work for the Seattle Police Department to continue investigating cybercrime.
6. Looking for Sewer Problems
You probably don’t think much of your day about sewers, but they are quite important to our lives. There are tons of things that can flow into sewers that pollute not only the environment but our own water supply that we use to wash, bathe and drink our stuff.
Fortunately, we have dogs to protect us. Dogs can be trained to detect contaminants in water and locate their sources. They can sniff raw sewage, hazardous chemicals and cleaning agents, illegal pipe connections or broken pipes, among other things.
Water samples can be taken in a lab to test contaminants. The problem is, it can take days or weeks to see results. Dogs, on the other hand, immediately indicate whether something is wrong and immediately find the source.
These pups keep our water safe and protect the environment.
7. Helping Archaeologists
Archaeologists spend a lot of time digging, so it’s not hard to think that dogs could help them.
However, dogs are not really trained to dig up old pots and bones. Instead, they detect these items so that people can find valuable artifacts.
Migaloo is one of these dogs and she is trained to find old bones. Dogs are sometimes used by police and emergency responders to locate carcasses. But finding bones that are hundreds of years old is a little different.
Dogs should be trained to specifically find the smells of bones, not the smell of rot or decay, which can be found everywhere in, say, a forest.
However, dogs are not only trained to find valuable artifacts in the field. Some are trained to catch artifact smugglers who steal pottery, bones, and other items. Usually, these pieces of history are stolen from war-torn countries, smuggled in and sold for high prices.
The dogs that detect these items also help law enforcement catch thieves and maintain the culture. So dogs don’t just find valuable objects for archaeologists, they also use their noses to preserve those findings.
What other strange jobs have you heard of that dogs can do with their noses? What jobs do you think dogs can do that they’ve never tried before? Let us know in the comments below!