|Owen, Washington D.C.|
Also a vapor wake dog can still smell the trail of bomb scent in the air 10 minutes after the person has passed, and the dog can follow the person into buildings or up stairs or into elevators or wherever the person went.
The vapor wake dog program was started at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. And the dogs trained for this job are not just any old dogs. They are dogs that are specially bred to have a really fantastic sense of smell. Mostly these dogs are labrador retrievers or other sporting breeds that people don't pay much attention to out on the street or in crowds because they are very common breeds.
More and more police departments are getting vapor wake dogs, but they cost $20,000 apiece, so not everybody can afford one. The U.S. Capitol Police Force has a vapor wake dog named Owen, and the NYPD has several, including one named Raven.
Dogs are good at doing any kind of job that involves sniffing, and that is because the part of a dog's brain that has to do with scent detection is 40 times bigger than the same part of a human's brain. But I've told you before all about how good dogs are at sniffing stuff.
Anyway, another special use that humans have made of dogs' superior noses is called scat-sniffing. Maybe you already know this, but scat is just a fancy word for poop. Mostly it's people like forest rangers and wildlife researchers who use the word scat. I don't know why this is, but maybe they are just too embarrassed to say "poop."
An example of this was in Alberta, Canada, where scat-sniffing dogs were used to find out why there were getting to be fewer and fewer woodland caribou. Some people thought that the wolves were killing all the caribou, but after doing the study, researchers learned that the wolves were mostly eating deer, not caribou. And besides that, it turned out that there were almost twice as many caribou as what people thought. The real problem for the caribou turned out to be that they were afraid of the stuff people were doing in the forest, like logging and exploring for oil. So because they were afraid, the caribou didn't go to the places where they could get the best food. Which meant that without the best food, and also because they felt stressed, they couldn't stay as healthy.
This study took 3 winters, with 4 trained dogs and their handlers. The dogs found the scat of 1,914 caribou, 1,175 moose, and 327 wolves. The diet of the wolves turned out to be 80% deer, 10% moose, and 10% caribou. After the researchers learned this, they knew it would be a mistake to kill a bunch of the wolves, which is what people first thought would help the caribou. Because if the wolves were gone, there would be tons more deer, and the caribou would have to compete with them for food. So you can see that the scat-sniffing dogs were very useful in helping people learn all this important stuff and in saving their distant ancestors, the wolves.
|Sniffing for Orca poop|
I guess the dogs who look for scat are not allowed to eat it after then find it, which is kind of sad, if you ask me. I think that wolf poop would be especially yummy because it would have a bunch of meat and bone stuff in it. Personally, I'm a pretty good scat-sniffing dog myself, at least when it comes to cat scat. But mostly I just look for it in our front yard and maybe a few of the neighbors' yards. It's way too much trouble to go all over the whole neighborhood trying to find it. And getting to eat some of it is a much better reward than playing with a stupid ball!