Animals with professions

F_NO15_vet-dog-police.jpgI recently heard on the news about dogs being used in medical trials in the UK to sniff out certain types of cancer. In initial studies specially trained dogs seemed to be able to detect prostate tumours in urine in 93% of cases. This made me think of the many different skills of our pets.

The value of animals to humans has always been a huge one. Over thousands of years humans have learned to make use of certain traits of animals to help them with their own tasks.An estimated 15,000–30,000 years ago humans started domesticating wolves to help them with hunting bison and mammoth as their food. Since then we have bred many different breeds of dogs for different purposes.

There are the livestock guardian dogs, like Mastiffs, Kuvasz or Kangals. Their purpose was and still is, in some parts of the world, to live amongst the group of animals to protect them from predators such as wolves and bears. Then there is the large group of hunting breeds which are divided into different categories, including hounds, gun dogs and terriers. Hounds are divided into sighthounds like Whippets, scenthounds like Coonhounds, and lurchers like Greyhounds.

Gun dogs are used primarily by small game hunters. The retrievers, which as their name suggests retrieve an already shot animal, while the spaniels are used to flush out the prey so the hunter can then shoot it more easily. The pointing breeds indicate where the prey is located.

Terriers were bred to hunt vermin like rats or foxes, locate the den of the target animal and then bolt, capture, or kill the animal.

From guide dogs for the sight-impaired or blind to more life-threatening scenarios. If trained extensively some can detect, that is smell, early signs of hypoglycaemia in diabetic patients, detect and pre-warn of a seizure about to happen or as mentioned before detect certain cancers.

F_R_OtakiVetOtaki Veterinary Centre

269 Mill Road, Otaki 06 364 6941

R-VetAngelaAngela Ford BVM&S MRCVS MACVSc Emma & Jen — Veterinary nurses

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