Thoughts from the Wild

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Dogs at Work: Ratter Dogs Win the Rat Race

February 27, 2020

At the American Kennel Club Earthdog competition, terriers and other small breeds race through tunnels in search of rats. No rats are harmed, the AKC is quick to point out, because the rats are in cages, safe from canine jaws. Dogs win by simply finding the rat and barking within an allotted time. The whole …

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Dogs at Work: Standard Poodles Were Born to Be Bird Dogs

January 23, 2020

Not all standard poodles are froufrou, overly coiffed dogs adorned with diamond-studded collars and red-painted toenails. Some of them actually like to get dirty. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Standard poodles were originally bred as bird dogs and can now be found leaping from duck blinds, flushing waterfowl and retrieving the birds with a soft mouth. …

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Dogs at Work: Keeping Airport Runways Safe

December 12, 2019

It was a flock of Canadian geese that led to the infamous landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River off Manhattan. The mid-air bird strike caused the plane to lose power in both engines, requiring Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger to deftly maneuver the aircraft into a safe water landing. That’s why it …

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Dogs at Work: Surfing Dogs

November 14, 2019

You’ve witnessed dogs on skateboards. Dogs diving off docks. And dogs racing through obstacle courses. But dogs on surfboards? It’s true. In states like California and Hawaii, dogs have been cresting the waves on surfboards, either alone or with a human, for almost a century. But the first official dog surfing competition didn’t happen until …

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A Man and His Dog, Protecting the Great Outdoors

October 24, 2019

Brock McArdle is almost breathless as he tells the story of the case. A wounded victim, lost on a mountainside. A one-in-a-million shot at finding the subject. But thanks to the literal doggedness of Brock’s partner, Cash, the duo found who they were looking for. Case closed. “It was a needle in a haystack,” the …

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Dogs at Work: Racing Dogs

July 18, 2019

People used to pay good money to watch greyhounds tear around a track at 45 miles per hour. In 1991, the money wagered on dog races across the country peaked at $3.5 billion, according to Racing Commissions International. Bettors at tracks hobnobbed with Frank Sinatra and other celebrities. But by 2014, track income had tumbled …

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Dogs at Work: TSA Dogs Tackle Security Before Takeoff

June 27, 2019

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) dogs can’t prevent turbulence during your flight, but they can help you fly through security a little faster. Trained to sniff out a range of explosives at airports and other transportation hubs, these dogs can screen passengers — without touching them — faster than traditional methods. And that helps loosen airport …

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