K9 Corner, Oct. 17

Published 8:39 am Tuesday, October 17, 2017


“It’s just a dog!” And my reply was: “It’s a domesticated animal whose brain has been honed to a degree that is better than ours in some cases.” All you have to do is observe the many things dogs can do. Not every dog can do everything that is where selected breeding comes in. We have herding dogs – that work on their own out of sight of the shepherd; dogs that can master the problems of guiding blind people in heavy city traffic, dogs that can detect when a person is getting ready to have a seizure. One of the most recent careers that some dogs are able to perform is to be a companion and service dog for our wounded warriors. Stop saying “It’s just a dog!” 

In an article “Into the Minds of Dogs” by Suzanne Smith in the July 2015 issue of Pepper ‘N Salt publication of the Standard Schnauzer Club of America, she states that “the human genome has only 23 chromosome pairs whereas the canine genome has 39, dogs are far more complex organisms than humans.” 

Email newsletter signup

Have you ever owned a “problem-solving” dog? I have! Let me tell you it is difficult to keep ahead of a problem-solver, just keeping the dog mentally stimulated is a challenge – which I never felt I did very well. Actually I felt this dog needed a career as a guide dog, but she was one-half inch too short to be accepted by the Seeing Eye Dogs in New Jersey though they expressed an interest in her until she matured – too small.

“It’s just a dog!” Can any human go out and sniff for buried bombs? Maybe we should ask a human to locate buried turtles that need to be relocated because they are on the endangered list, or find the moth egg masses in the forests to save the trees. Actually dogs, with their superior noses, can do all of the above if they have been trained to locate certain scents. 

What about the dogs trained to assist people with hearing loss? They respond to the alarm clock, the door bell, the microwave chime, the telephone and a lot of other alarms too. Hearing ear dogs also take the responsibility to protect their owners at a crosswalk if a car comes screaming around the corner and the person seems oblivious of the danger. Granted humans can also respond to bells and whistles, but their minds can wander on the job and they often need a daily wage.

Standard schnauzers, which happens to be my number one favorite breed, have proven that they are capable of participating in nearly every competitive event the American Kennel Club has created. Besides the conformation and obedience classes, this breed excels in Rally obedience, agility, tracking, herding, hunting rats (caged and buried between bales of straw) and some even enjoy dock diving.  I am sure that there are many other breeds capable of doing the same and even more, such as water rescue, a specialty of the Newfoundland breed.