People have had cats and dogs living in their homes for centuries. Since ancient times, these animals have made affectionate family companions, but dogs have also been hunting companions, while cats were prized for their abilities to kill rats that threatened grain supplies. Today, dogs still accompany hunting parties and cats still kill rats, but these skills are no longer as critical to our food supply as they once were. However, there is little indication that our affection for these animals will likely wane as these initial services become less important. Instead, people have discovered that cats and dogs can provide many more services to our lives. These are just a few examples of work done by dogs and cats today:
GRAZING, CARE OF LIVESTOCK: Dogs are still trained to care for livestock. Border collies and sheepdogs were bred for this purpose and many still work in this capacity on farms and ranches today.
ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT: Animals are popular TV and movie stars; think Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Benji and Garfield to name a few. Pet stars are used on camera by manufacturers to promote their pet food and other pet products in television commercials and magazine ads.
TASTE TESTERS: In addition to the marketing department, pet food manufacturers also employ cats and dogs as taste testers to develop new formulas in their cat and dog food kitchens.
SHOWS AND COMPETITIONS – Some animal shows seek to reward “best of breed” for well-behaved dogs or cats, while others meet for cats or dogs to focus on agility through obstacle courses. Whether competing based on beauty or athleticism, the winners of these events can win cash prizes.
DOGS IN SPORTS: As mentioned above, dogs are still trained to participate in hunting trips; both as members of many conventional hunting excursions and as trained hounds on a traditional fox hunt. Many dogs enjoy a game of Frisbee, some for pleasure and some in competition. Dogs are also athletes in races, such as greyhound racing and dog sled racing, including the Iditarod.
SERVICE AND ASSISTANCE DOGS: Most people think of a service dog as a “guide dog,” but there are many more services for which dogs have been trained. In addition to helping guide blind people, service dogs can also be taught to turn on lights, open doors, search for medicine, and call 9-1-1. Deaf people may have “hearing dogs” that will alert them to doorbells, ringing phones, and smoke alarms. People susceptible to seizures can have dogs provide a number of specific services, often including detecting when a seizure is coming and providing help beforehand.
POLICE AND MILITARY DOGS: These dogs are highly trained specialists. Among the many job opportunities are sentinel, scout and patrol duties; sniffing out drugs, bombs or other explosives; and looking for victims. In a recent story, a police dog-in-training liked people too much and was not doing well in his criminal control lessons, so he was transferred to Search and Rescue, where his unwavering affection for him was more appreciated. people. In addition to their highly specialized training, these dogs must also learn to remain calm and focused in the midst of highly chaotic situations.
THERAPY DOGS: Do you have a companion dog that is well mannered, likes people, and responds to basic obedience commands? Here’s an idea, an opportunity for your dog to do some heartwarming community service as a “therapy dog.” Therapy dogs visit residents of nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, children’s hospitals, and even juvenile detention centers. No special training is required for a well-behaved dog to provide a moment of joy, complete with a wagging tail, that transcends the details of these people’s current circumstances. If you can spare a few hours, call a center near you and get an invitation to bring your dog for a visit. The experience will have a great impact on the residents and on you.
Dogs and cats can be taught to perform many more services than the original tasks that brought them into our homes, even more than are listed here. They serve us relentlessly and without complaint, all for simple rewards of affection.