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Ranch Life: Livestock, Working Dogs, Wolves and People

As an all-around animal and nature lover, I often find myself thinking about the ways in which dogs can negatively impact the environment.

People and Carnivores logo

Then, every so often, a story like this pops up – a story about working dogs whose loyalty provides a sustainable and reliable form of livestock protection. It’s an awesome solution especially at a time when many people violently resist the reintroduction of natural predators like wolves.

Even if you aren’t interested in the eco-angle of this story from the People and Carnivores conservation group, I urge you to watch this 7-minute video for the rare and old timey dog breeds featured in it. (And don’t be put off by the creepy thumbnail image.)

To learn more about how human society and the great predator animals can share the planet, check out PeopleandCarnivores.org.

What do you think of the Livestock Guarding Dogs?

If you like this story, check out my post on the Conservation Canines.

What Modern Working Dogs Do

Do you know what dogs can do?

The truth is almost anything – and they really like having a job.

At least, that’s the feeling I had as I read the book Dogs of Courage by Lisa Rogak.

Dogs of Courage by Lisa Rogak

Dogs of Courage by Lisa Rogak

Dogs can use their sniffers to detect endangered species, missing people, dangerous and illegal substances and even disease lurking in your body.

Dogs can use their bodies to protect, soothe, guide and inspire.

Most of all, dogs can use their instincts to serve and to love.

But often – not always – dogs need a human coach.

That theme runs throughout Rogak’s book, which is a comprehensive overview of the myriad roles of the modern working dog and what qualifies him for his gig.

In under 300 pages, the author describes in detail – and with plenty of expert interviews and real life anecdotes – dozens of jobs that dogs do for humans today.

Some dog careers are familiar – police work, search and rescue, therapy. Others are more unusual or more specialized than you might realize – arson detection, invasive species tracking, reading assistance.

The tales relayed by Rogak both educated and brought me near tears several times.

For me, one of the most fascinating stories involves Xolo dogs, a Mexican hairless breed. Their ultra-warm, small bodies are, apparently, ideally suited to help provide relief to sufferers of chronic pain.

As I read about the Paws for Comfort dogs, I couldn’t help but think of my own tiny, toasty and thin-coated elderpin and how napping with him snuggled up against me is helpful when I get a migraine.

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Miniature Pinscher, Migraine Killer

Of course, other dog jobs are more complex and heroic on a grander scale, with canines acting to save humanity and other species on land, sea and even air, in all kinds of trying conditions.

Throughout the book, I kept squinting with my brain to imagine dogs I know performing the heroic acts Rogak describes.

I could see Luke offering comfort to residents of a nursing home.

I couldn’t so much see Charlie Machete staying focused enough to sniff out someone buried under rubble in an urban disaster area.

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“Who needs help?” “Squirrel!”

Perhaps there is some comfort in the fact that oftentimes the traits that help a dog excel at a given task are the same attributes that make him less suited to life as a family pet. (By the way, Charlie Machete is still available to become YOUR family pet.)

What is the bravest thing your dog has ever done?

To learn more about Dogs of Courage, check out author Lisa Rogak’s website.
 
Dogs of Courage would make a great Valentine’s gift for the dog lovers on your list. Find more ideas for your human and canine sweethearts in my Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Dogs and Dog Lovers.
Disclaimer: The author provided me with a free copy of Dogs of Courage in exchange for an honest review of the book.
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