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In October 2019, a trained Military Working Dog (MWD) named Conan helped take down the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, during a special operations raid. K9 Conan and members of Delta Force chased Baghdadi into a dead-end tunnel. Baghdadi subsequently panicked and detonated his suicide vest, resulting in his death and that of 3 children he brought with him. Conan has been hailed as a hero dog for his part in the successful raid. While information about him is scarce as both he and his handler are still operational, here are 5 things we do know about him. He's a Belgian Malinois Conan is a male Belgian Malinois. This medium to large herding dog breed is a hardworking powerhouse of ideal size and temperament for multipurpose fieldwork. Furthermore, the Belgian Malinois traits of trainability, exemplary performance under stress, and unmatched athleticism make them a prime choice for Military Working Dog positions. The U.S. Military also utilizes German Shepherds and Dutch Shepherds, as well as Labrador Retrievers, for both combat roles and detection jobs. Belgian Shepherds, including Malinois, tend to be smaller than their German cousins. Males average 24 to 26" tall at the shoulder and weigh approximately 60 to 70 pounds. They boast a sleek double coat that's most commonly seen with varying shades of brown, tan, and black, although the breed does come in several other color combinations. They have a sharp, inquisitive, take charge nature. Most members of the breed are extremely intense. Belgian Malinois require highly experienced handling and extensive training. They do not often make good pets or Service Dogs, although they thrive as working and performance dogs. MWD Conan's Training Took Place in Texas The United States Air Force selects, trains, and places Military Working Dogs of all kinds. K9 Conan, like all MWDs, was trained by the 341st Military Working Dog Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, which is located in Texas. Specifically, Conan belongs to the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Military Working Dog program. He's attached to the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, more commonly known as Delta Force. Delta Force is an Army unit that falls under the umbrella of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command. Military Working Dogs utilized by U.S. special operations teams undergo some of the most rigorous and sophisticated training in the world. These special dogs run messages, serve as eyes and ears for their handlers, sniff out hostiles, assist with

Cancer Detection Dogs recently gained the spotlight for their ability to accurately smell cancer in breath, blood, or other tissue samples. These unique medical detection dogs undergo specialized training to alert their handler to the presence of cancerous cells. While this branch of scent work is relatively new, using dogs to detect, locate, or verify scents has been done for thousands of years. What is BioScentDX? BioScentDX, a company specializing in using canines for cancer screening, presented the results of their recent cancer detection research and studies at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting held during the April 2019 Experimental Biology symposium. Dogs, BioScentDX says, can be trained to detect cancer from scent samples with 97% accuracy. Heather Junqueira, the lead researcher and study director at BioScentDX, says dogs offer a low-cost, minimally invasive way to screen high volumes of patients. Quicker, cheaper methods of detection allow for earlier discovery of cancer, which allows for treatment to begin during the early stages of the disease. "This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools," said Junqueira. "One is using canine scent detection as a screening method for cancers, and the other would be to determine the biologic compounds the dogs detect and then design cancer-screening tests based on those compounds." Dogs' Brains Specialize in Processing Scents The canine brain prioritizes scent over the other senses. Furthermore, it dedicates a whopping 40% of sensory function to processing scents and smells. This allows dogs to reliably identify and catalog millions of smells. When a trained detection dog encounters a target odor, they alert their handler so appropriate action can be taken. For some detection dogs, the target odor is drugs, explosives, or the scent of a missing person. For others, like the cancer detection dogs at BioScentDX, the target odor is cancer. There are several breeds of dogs capable of locating and identifying scent diluted to parts per trillion. Beagles, Labradors, and German Shepherds rank high among them. "Parts per trillion" looks like a single spritz of perfume in a stadium or a half teaspoon of sugar tossed into an Olympic sized swimming pool. Another way to look at parts per trillion is with time -- it's the equivalent of 1 second out of 32,000 years. BioScentDX exclusively uses Beagles for their cancer screening programs but other researchers have ran

The Find'em Scent Safe, developed by police officer and canine handler Captain Coby Webb, Ph.D., allows families to collect and store uncontaminated scent samples for use by law enforcement or search and rescue K9 teams should a loved one go missing. Keep reading to learn more about the Find'em Scent Safe and how it can bring peace of mind to those who need it most. Especially for families who have a child with autism or who take care of someone with Alzheimer's, time matters when someone disappears. A clean scent sample allows tracking dogs to immediately get to work without delay. When families provide a scent article collected and stored the way the Find'em Scent Safe suggests, it eliminates questions about scent contamination. Knowing a tracking dog is on the correct scent means fewer delays and complications. What is the Find'em Scent Safe? The Find'em Scent Safe is a scent collection and storage system. Developed by decorated police K9 handler Dr. Coby Webb, the Find'em Scent Safe allows families to keep uncontaminated scent articles on hand in case law enforcement or search and rescue teams ever need them. The Scent Safe arrives in a sterile package and includes step by step instructions for obtaining scent samples and properly storing them within the Scent Safe. Who is the Find'em Scent Safe For? The Scent Safe kit helps bring peace of mind to anyone who loves someone at high risk of going missing. While children with special needs and elderly loved ones often come to mind first, hikers, hunters, and outdoorsmen also benefit from having an uncontaminated scent article available in case they need to be quickly found by dog teams. Dr. Webb specifically mentions children with autism, older dementia patients, elderly parents, and adventurers of all kinds. She also notes that the National Police Bloodhound Association recommends "that every family member secure a Find’em Scent Safe™ of their own." How Does the Find'em Scent Safe Work? These kits allow parents, caretakers, and adventurers to gather scent and then store it long-term in an airtight container. If the person ever goes missing, a family member gives their Scent Safe to the K9 handler responding to the call. The search or tracking dog uses the pure scent article inside the safe to "zero in" on the scent they're supposed to follow -- that of the missing person. An uncontaminated scent article helps the K9 ignore the scent of other

Dogs are capable of noticing the slightest of changes in human bodies through scent — and we're just beginning to discover their capabilities. It's estimated that dogs have a sense of smell that is 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours. James Walker, the former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, who's team rigorously tested dog's scenting ability explains, "if you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well." Here's an overview of how dogs can be trained to detect and assist with medical conditions.   How dogs' sense of smell can assist with medical conditions Dogs are capable of noticing the slightest of changes in human bodies caused by various systems including, hormonal changes and any volatile organic compounds that our bodies release from, for example, cancer cells. The great news is that scientists and dog trainers are leaning more and more about how dogs smell and applying training techniques to sniff out and assist with medical conditions. Assisting with diabetes Dogs can be trained to help people with diabetes realize that they are experiencing blood sugar levels spiking or dropping. Scientists have discovered that human breath has a natural chemical called isoprene that rises notably when a person with type 1 diabetes is going through a period of low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. With training, dogs can alert their owners and give them time to take their insulin when they see that their blood test confirms the warning as accurate. Detection of cancer Heather Junqueira, researcher at BioScentDx conducted a study titled, "A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated." She present this research at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting during the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting. Junqueira and her team used a a type of clicker training to teach four beagles to distinguish between normal blood serum and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer. Three of the four dogs correctly identified lung cancer samples 96.7 percent of the time and normal samples 97.5 percent of the time. "This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools," Junqueira explained. "One is using canine scent

Everyone is talking about the upcoming eclipse, but for many people, there are lots of questions left unanswered. What’s going to happen during the eclipse? How can you prepare for the eclipse? Are there any special considerations for people with a disability? How will the eclipse affect your Service Dog? Does your location alter the type of planning you should do? Learn the answers to all of these questions and more.

Veterans Alternative is a Holiday, Florida based organization that specializes in providing services to Veterans who are experiencing symptoms of PTSD caused by their time in combat and/or military sexual trauma. They also welcome Veterans who served in support of combat, and the Veteran’s family. Veterans Alternative offers both daily programming for local vets and week-long Veteran’s retreats for eligible Veterans (out of state Veterans are welcome), and both opportunities are Service Dog friendly!

Dogs For Our Brave is a 501(c)3 organization based out of St. Louis, Missouri. They place Service Dogs with veterans in all 50 states at no cost to the veteran or their family, and they cover the cost of caring for the dog for the team’s entire working life. Twice a year, they have an Open Enrollment period for the next class of dogs. Fall 2016’s Open Enrollment is in progress now, so if you know a veteran in need of an Assistance Dog, pass this info on!

There’s some big news in the Service Dog world! There’s a first-of-its-kind Service Dog Training Program available to zoos that will assist them with acclimating zoo animals to the presence of Service Dogs. If you don’t know why this is a big deal, then read on!