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Man’s Best Friend

Therapy Dog

by Marianne Walthier

We are all familiar with dogs that serve as devoted companions, guide dogs to the blind, service dogs for a number of health needs, assistants to TSA agents, members of search and rescue teams, and partners to police, but did you know that there are also dogs out there that detect bed bugs, comfort anxious flyers and inspect beehives?

When an outbreak of bedbugs in New York City hotels and apartments was widely publicized in 2008, several dogs, known as bedbug detection dogs, were deployed to find them. They are much more efficient than humans, capable of covering an entire office building in a single day, while humans require 3 hours to inspect a single hotel room!

Have you heard of PUP (Pets Unstressing Passengers)? This program is in place at Los Angeles International Airport, where 50 dogs are used to comfort fearful flyers. Stressed passengers can’t help stopping to pet a friendly canine, and this interaction puts a smile on their faces.

Who would want to stick their nose inside a beehive? Dogs are sometimes used to sniff out a deadly disease that infects bee colonies. The disease carries a distinctive scent that the canines are able to identify, thereby saving thousands of hives from infection. Of course, they can only do this during the winter months when the bees are dormant. Given their many natural talents and abilities, dogs truly are “man’s best friend”!

Source: Parade Magazine, 8/26/16 edition

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