Dogology - Service Dogs - Helping the World in a Special Way

Dogs Save People in Many Ways

The event makes headline across the globe. We watch on television, read in newspapers, get reports from the radio, and witness the devastation on our electronic devices. Unspeakable acts of destruction from nature and terrorist attacks that leave human beings isolated, trapped, and helpless among the ruins of the debris and wreckage.

As assistance pours in from around the nation and the world, we see people making donations to help those in need. We learn about brave people who risk all to save the victims. We learn about fearless dogs, who battle any conditions to search for the victims of the disaster. These service dogs are specially trained to recover people who may not have otherwise been found.

Dogs have a smart sense about them. Their sense of smell gives them the ability to work in conditions where debris, snow, water, and other conditions would make it nearly impossible for people to be found in a timely manner, if ever. A dog’s nose depending on the breed may have anywhere from 125 million nerve sensors to many times that. In addition, nearly ⅓ of a dog’s brain tissue is occupied by olfactory cells. Dogs scent organ in their nose is 4 times  larger than a person’s, and is 50 to 100 times more powerful than ours. We humans have about 5 -10 million nerve cells that allow us to discern scents. Dogs search by scent, not sight.

Dogs are Specially Trained for Rescues

Canines Are Trained for Different Search and Rescue Purposes

  • air scenting canines can sniff the surrounding area and find people who have become lost, trapped, or wandered off.  If conditions are ideal, dogs can smell from about a ¼ of a mile away.
  • tracking dogs sniff the scent of the tracks the person left behind.   Bloodhounds are typical tracking dogs.
  • trailing dogs smell a possession of a person and seek out the person they are searching for.  
  • cadaver dogs find human remains buried below or above ground
  • disaster dogs find people in environments that have been hit by tornadoes, and earthquakes, bombings and other events where there are collapsed buildings and under debris. These dogs often work in unsafe and dangerous situations.
  • water search dogs can trace people that are in water and even under water. Usually a handler and the dog will be in a boat or walk along the shoreline. A diver will enter the water when the dog gives a sign of the approximate location.
  • avalanche dog can sniff the scent of people in snow, sometimes 15 feet deep.

Dogs Helping People with Disabilities

Dogs Do Many Important Jobs

Search and rescue dogs are very intelligent, and develop a close bond with their human partner. Upon finding the person, they are trained to communicate with their handler. There are many other jobs these canines are trained to do including:

  • service dogs for sniffing bombs, drugs, and assist police to apprehend criminals.
  • guide dogs for the blind
  • companion dogs for people with disabilities
  • therapy dogs for people give affection to people in hospitals, rehab facilities, schools, for learning disabled children, comfort for people in disaster areas.
  • herding dogs who work on farms to keep agricultural animals safe
  • detection dogs to sniff out termites, bedbugs, and other pests
  • guard dogs as protection and sentrys.


Each of these dogs are trained under different conditions. Most dogs are trained to do one of these types of searches.

Search and rescue dogs usually have a long snout, to give them greater scentability. Flat nosed dogs usually are not as efficient at this. The typical search and rescue dog weighs between 40 and 70 pounds, although some may be larger.

Rescue Dogs are Heroes

Dogs must endure arduous conditions, loud noises, and an unfamiliar environment.
On 9/11,the search and rescue dogs at the Pentagon, in Washington D.C. spent a considerable amount of time around loud airplanes, walked into rubble filled, bombed out buildings, and were put through decontamination. All the dogs performed their duties with unwaivering dedication. Many dogs from the World Trade Center disaster, acquired cancer, as have many of the people who are heroes and who worked selflessly in New York City during that time.

St. Bernards are considered to be the original search dogs. Around the year 980, Bernard of Menthon built an inn and a Monastery for weary travellers at the Summit of the Great St. Bernards Pass between Switzerland and Italy. Many travellers would get lost in the mountains, be trapped by avalanches, or need assistance. The monks would use the dogs to rescue people. (Most St. Bernards did not really carry brandy around their neck) As time passed the monks realized these dogs had a great sense of direction, and began to use them as guides in poor weather conditions.

Dogs in War

In World War I, the Red Cross used trained air scent dogs to help find injured soldiers on the battlefield. In World War II, search and rescue dogs were used to find people under the bombed ruins in London. In 1942, in the United States, dogs began to be trained as working dogs for the purpose of guarding, being message carriers, as sled dogs in the North Pole, and as scout dogs. Scout dogs would lead patrols with their handlers and alert the handler by crouching, tensing up, or pointing as a bird dog would, by raising the hairs along their back, or by growling,  when an enemy would approach. They were trained to never bark. This worked well enough to be used in the Korean and Vietnam wars also.   


.

Avalanche Dogs

Avalanche Dogs: In the late 1930’s dogs began to be trained by the Swiss Army to assist in rescuing people from avalanches. These type of search and rescue dogs must have the fortitude to keep working through the harshest weather and most inhospitable conditions. Avalanche dogs work persistently until they find people buried deep under the snow.  When a search and rescue dog starts to get a stronger human scent, they will dig into the snow. If the scent gets stronger, they will continue to dig. If the scent gets weaker, they work outwards to locate another stronger scent.  They are trained by finding their  owners in the snow first. These dogs do very important work.  90% of people trapped in snow from avalanches survive, when found within 15 minutes. After 35 minutes there is only a 30% chance of survival, with only a 3% chance after 2 hours.  Dogs are the fastest and best way to find a person in the extreme weather conditions from  avalanche.  A dog can search an area in 1/8th of the time it takes 20 people by foot.

Dogs Come From Around the World to Save People in Many Disaster Situations

The German Shepherd Dog Club of Washington State saw in the early 1960’s the potential these dogs had to assist man in many capacities that no man or machine could accomplish. Through the vision and dedication of a few people, search and rescue dogs began being trained for missions that the government started to sanction. Today, there are over 1000 search dog units in the United States. These dogs have been called in when the volcano erupted at Mt. St. Helen in Washington State in 1980, they have been used in wildnerness searches for missing people, in the Oklahoma bombing, for 9/11, for hurricanes, tornadoes, and numerous other untold stories, where only a dog could do the job best.

In recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, New Zealand, and Japan, dogs were brought in from all over the world to do a job better than any living being can do. 500 rescue workers and 30 rescue dogs from around the world recently recently flew into Japan to volunteer and help find victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsuanmi. 12 rescue dogs from the U.S., 9 from the Swiss Rescue Team, 7 from Wales, and dogs from Singapore, and Britain were among the dogs who offered assistance.

In Memory of some Search and Rescue Assist K-9's

 Abby        May, 1997 -  August, 2007  Background: Disaster search dog deployed on several hurricane missions, NIH parking lot collapse, Pentagon terroris act and LaPlata, MD F-4 tornado
Abby May, 1997 - August, 2007 Background: Disaster search dog deployed on several hurricane missions, NIH parking lot collapse, Pentagon terroris act and LaPlata, MD F-4 tornado
Ondo       October, 1998  - December, 2009    Background: Disaster search dog deployed to numerous missions including Haiti school collapse (2008)
Ondo October, 1998 - December, 2009 Background: Disaster search dog deployed to numerous missions including Haiti school collapse (2008)
Willow   : October, 1994 - August, 2009  Background: Disaster search dog deployed on several missions including Hurricane Floyd (1999), World Trade Center terrorist attack (2001), Hurricane Katrina (2005)
Willow : October, 1994 - August, 2009 Background: Disaster search dog deployed on several missions including Hurricane Floyd (1999), World Trade Center terrorist attack (2001), Hurricane Katrina (2005)
Alley  Oct, 1998 -  Aug, 2008   Background: Air Scent Search Dog   wilderness - lost person; cadaver, land & water   Pentagon recovery (2001), LaPlata, MD F-4 tornado (2002), Space Shuttle  Columbia recovery effort (2003),  Hurricane Katrina (2005)
Alley Oct, 1998 - Aug, 2008 Background: Air Scent Search Dog wilderness - lost person; cadaver, land & water Pentagon recovery (2001), LaPlata, MD F-4 tornado (2002), Space Shuttle Columbia recovery effort (2003), Hurricane Katrina (2005)
 Nero v hous safko  Dec 1997 - Sept  2007   Background: Disaster search dog deployed to the Pentagon (2001)  Hurricane Katrina (2005), and F4 tornado in LaPlata, MD
Nero v hous safko Dec 1997 - Sept 2007 Background: Disaster search dog deployed to the Pentagon (2001) Hurricane Katrina (2005), and F4 tornado in LaPlata, MD
Morning Glory  Dec 1994 - April, 2007    Background: Air Scent Search Dog in wilderness - lost person; cadaver, land & water; and evidence. Pentagons Evidence Recovery Unit (2001) in the aftermath of a terrorist act and College Park,, MD F-3 tornado
Morning Glory Dec 1994 - April, 2007 Background: Air Scent Search Dog in wilderness - lost person; cadaver, land & water; and evidence. Pentagons Evidence Recovery Unit (2001) in the aftermath of a terrorist act and College Park,, MD F-3 tornado
Kinsey   April, 1998  - January, 2007 Background: Disaster search dog deployed to numerous missions including World Trade Center (2001) and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, &  & Ivan.
Kinsey April, 1998 - January, 2007 Background: Disaster search dog deployed to numerous missions including World Trade Center (2001) and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, & & Ivan.
Jake    Feb 1995 - Dec  2006   Background: Disaster search dog deployed on two train derailments, Rockville, MD parking lot collapse, Pentagon terrorist attack, (2001), LaPlata, MD F-4 tornado (2002)
Jake Feb 1995 - Dec 2006 Background: Disaster search dog deployed on two train derailments, Rockville, MD parking lot collapse, Pentagon terrorist attack, (2001), LaPlata, MD F-4 tornado (2002)
Sheridan     April, 1994 -  January, 2004    Background: Disaster search dog deployed on numerous missions including hurricanes, Pentagon terrorist act (2001), LaPlata, MD F-4 tornado (2002)
Sheridan April, 1994 - January, 2004 Background: Disaster search dog deployed on numerous missions including hurricanes, Pentagon terrorist act (2001), LaPlata, MD F-4 tornado (2002)
Bear     May, 1993 -  September, 2003    Background: Disaster search dog deployed to World Trade Center (2001) in the aftermath of a Terrorist Act
Bear May, 1993 - September, 2003 Background: Disaster search dog deployed to World Trade Center (2001) in the aftermath of a Terrorist Act
 Garret vom Marinik     April, 1992 - August, 2002 Background: Disaster search dog deployed to numerous missions such as embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, Izmit and Duzce earthquakes in Turkey.
Garret vom Marinik April, 1992 - August, 2002 Background: Disaster search dog deployed to numerous missions such as embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, Izmit and Duzce earthquakes in Turkey.

The Amazing Things Canines Can Do

Dogs can do many amazing things, but their value in finding and saving human lives in all scenarios is incalculable. As search and rescue dogs, these canines endure unsafe conditions, injuries to themselves, and danger. It is clear these dogs feel a sense of purpose in what they do. They are dedicated, they know their mission, enjoy their job, and do it for the love of their handlers and owners.

As bomb and drug sniffing dogs, they achieve finds man and machine may very well miss. As companion, guide and therapy dogs, they work everyday to help people with disabilities and other needs. As herding dogs, they work to keep the flock safe. It is now first being realized, dogs may be able to sniff out cancer before a person my even know it. And everyday there are stories of dogs who save their owners from fires, from heart attacks, seizures, from diabetic comas, and countless other situations. There are stories of dogs savings their owners from fires. And we can never calculate the health benefits we gain from having a dog in our life, nor can we measure the happiness they give us. We owe a great gratitude to these four footed heroes, working dogs, and members of our family. There is much we can learn from these amazing dogs. The dedication of working dogs often goes unmentioned and unnoticed. In every part of the world, dogs are there to help people in need.

More by this Author


Comments 39 comments

Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

Here in SW Louisiana,people do have a respect for dogs(a lot of hunting dogs around here) and other animals and wildlife as a contribution to beauty or as a helping hand.;)


thebluestar profile image

thebluestar 5 years ago from Northern Ireland

Great hub supported with great photos. I enjoyed reading this hub very much, well done.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

A lovely hub, ToKnowInfo. I just makes me realise (as if I didn't already) how precious my dogs were to me and how much i miss them. They were the centre of my day, my life.


Fay Paxton 5 years ago

Excellent hub and photos, Dogs are so smart and they have excellent instincts.

voted up/useful


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Mentalist,

It is nice to hear that in your area, you get to appreciate nature at its best. Thanks for stopping by.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Bluestar, From one animal lover to another, I am glad you enjoyed this article.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Twilight,

I didn't know you were a dog lover. Like my daughter has said, "a pet walks through the doors of your home and stays in your heart forever"


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Fay,

Dogs are smart in so many ways, and it is amazing, the things they are capable of doing. Thanks for the up rating.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

I don't know if this will work but if it does, and you get a chance to read it:

http://hubpages.com/animals/Norbury_Mudhounds


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 5 years ago from Minnesota

Excellent article on all the ways dogs have been trained to help humans. I really enjoyed the pictures too. I have had dogs most of my life and can't imagine life without them. They open your heart like noone else can. Great hub.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Maybe since the popularity of Lassie I have been interested in all the things dogs can do.Good presentation.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

My grandmother born in Washington state, was very familiar with the The German Shepherd Dog Club.....I remember her telling me stories when I was younger....I wish she was still around so I could ask her more questions about that club....voted up....great photos and stories


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

What would man do without his faithful canine friends?

Excellent Hub.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 5 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi toknowinf, Where would we be without dogs in our life, they are so valuable to us as a companion has a friend or helper for the blind or police .

Awesome and vote up !!!


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Twilight, I loved your story about Norbury Mudhounds - Very Special Dogs indeed!


Faithful Daughter profile image

Faithful Daughter 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

This Hub is by far one of the best hubs I have read about dogs. Voted up Useful, Awesome, and Beautiful! As I read it, I was filled (again) with admiration for our canine friends. They are such a blessing to have around. Their courage, dedication, and love is unmatchable and you expressed it very well here. I was going to write a hub similar to yours, but yours will outshine mine.

Thank you for honoring these great unsung heroes and giving dogs the praise they deserve! Excellent hub!


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Minne, Dogs are very special. I am glad you enjoyed this hub.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Dah, Lassie left an impression on all of us!


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Will, Our four footed friends are truly a gift to man. I am glad you liked this article.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Tom, Thanks for stopping by. I know how much you do for your dog. So while dogs do so much for us, when they have a loving owner, maybe they say, what would they do without us.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Dogs are amazing creatures, servers (and natural slaves) of humans. Thank God for Dog(s) - As a kind of a palindrome, god/dog is something to ponder. Voted up and awesome!


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Faithful Daughter, Thank you so much for your kind words. My admiration for dogs is why I have written so many hubs about dogs. I encourage you to write your hub, you have your own special style and it will come through. Perhaps we can even link them. There is so much to say about dogs.


amillar profile image

amillar 5 years ago from Scotland, UK

A lot of useful info for dog lovers and those who depend on their amazing talents. Up and useful.


Betty Johansen profile image

Betty Johansen 5 years ago

Gives a whole new meaning to "Dogs are a man's best friend." An exciting, engaging hub! Thanks.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I enjoyed your hub. Great research and lots of interesting information!


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Amillar,

Dogs do have amazing talent and we are lucky they like to use it to help us. There is probably a lot more amazing things they can do,that we have yet to discover. Thanks for the up rating.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Betty,

I am glad you found this article exciting and engaging. I have such a love for dogs and have written quite a few articles about the many aspects of our four footed friend. Thank you so much for your kind words.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Alicia,

Dogs do the interesting things and made it easy for me to write about them. Thanks for stopping by and for appreciating my work.


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 5 years ago from Sweden

A wonderful hub about amazing dogs! You have done a really great hub and put it so well together. I have always had dogs around me, but sadly not now, and a dog is the best friend a human can have. Thanks! Up and awesome! Tina


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Tina,

Thank you so very much for your kind words and up rating.

Dogs are wonderful to have in our lives. I hope at one day you will be able to have a dog again. They are amazing and special.


Chatkath profile image

Chatkath 5 years ago from California

Awesome Hub, dogs do so much for us it is almost unbelievable at times! Thanks for a well deserved Hub, dogs make the world a much better place, no doubt about it!


DoItForHer 5 years ago

I work at a Transit system driving the city bus. Service animals that provide a service for a person with a disability are the only animals allowed on the bus unless the animal is in an approved carrier. I'm trying to find information to dispute our current policy of not allowing other types of service animals; do you by chance have information on this?


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Chatkath, Dogs do make the world a better place. I have a lot of admiration for these furry four footed animals.


DoItForHer 5 years ago

I meant a portable dog kennel carrier when I said approved carrier. :) Small dogs in carriers can board, but Rottweilers as pets boarding the bus are out of the picture.

Some people lie and do sneak animals on the bus, but as long as they aren't a problem, I'm cool with it at least until I'm written up for it!

Some examples of service dogs are: cadaver dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs, bear protection dogs, etc. Not even law enforcement is allowed to bring a dog on the bus unless it performs a service for the owner that is disabled.

Some service animals have little training. One dude had a large pet snake that alerted to his owner's seizures. The transit kicked him off the bus because other people were afraid of his snake. The owner of the snake sued and got a ton of money for his discrimination.

I've just started researching this subject and boy is it convoluted. I'll let you know what I find out as well.


susannah42 profile image

susannah42 5 years ago from Florida

Having always had dogs, I agree that have unbelieveable instincts and are just wonderful.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi DFH, It sounds like you have some interesting stories to tell. I will be interested to know what you find out.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Susannah, The amazing abilities of dogs is awesome. The more I write about them, the more respect I have for these wonderful animals. Thanks for stopping by.


justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Lots of lovely info! Rated up & Awesome! :)


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Suzanne, Thanks for the kind comments and up rating.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    History of Dogs

    Click to Rate This Article
    working