Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day! Last year, we noted the day by telling you about all the cool jobs that dogs commonly have. But this year, we're putting a spotlight on canine jobs that aren't so common. Check out these dogs who found unusual paths in life.
William Wegman has been well-known for photographing dogs — his Weimaraners — for almost 40 years. Wegman first gained notice for shooting his dog, Man Ray, throughout the '70s until the dog’s death in 1981. A few years later, Wedman adopted Fay Ray, and she became as famous a canine model as Man Ray had been. Fay Ray even appeared several times on “Sesame Street.” She died in 1995, but Wegman today continues to photograph Weimaraners from Fay Ray’s line. (Smithsonian magazine)
You won’t see modern images of carting dogs, not only because technology made them obsolete long ago, but also because even at the turn of the 20th century, they were being banned for animal cruelty. But when they were in vogue, carting dogs were used to transport everything from water to milk to newspapers. Thankfully, we now have tweens on bicycles to do that kind of thing. (Messybeast)
Stage hypnotists are popular everywhere, but Hugh Lennon, a hypnotist in the U.K., added a unique gimmick to his act in the mid-’90s: a hypnotist dog. Lennon adopted Oscar as a pet, but soon found that the puppy had the ability to hypnotize people with his stare. Lennon took Oscar on the road and become popular across the U.K. with his “Hypno-Dog” act. Oscar retired in 2001 when his vision began to fail and he could no longer hypnotize, but these days, Lennon works onstage with one of Oscar’s sons, Murphy. (U-Zoo)
Political Advisor Dog
Many world leaders’ dogs have enjoyed some level of popularity. Current first dog Bo Obama has delighted Americans for years, and Queen Elizabeth II has had a special love of Corgis since her childhood. But few dogs have been as “inside” as Russian president Vladimir Putin’s dog, Koni (full name: Connie Paulgrave). Koni is by Putin’s side at almost all times. The black Lab attends regular staff meetings and greets other world leaders with Putin. The Russian president has even used Koni for political intimidation. He once invited the dog along for negotiations with German chancellor Angela Merkel, who has a noted fear of dogs. (Psychology Today)
Whale Poop Sniffing Dog
What does whale poop smell like? We hope never to find out. Thank goodness for dogs like Tucker. He’s devoted his life to smelling whale poop so we don’t have to. Whale poop is priceless for scientists who want to study the animals, but they can’t (or don’t want to) sniff out the stuff themselves. That’s where Tucker comes in. He works for the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington as a “scat-detection dog.” There aren’t many of those. That’s job security! Thanks, Tuck. (The Poodle and Dog Blog)
Cell Phone Sniffing Dogs
The small size and portability of modern cellphones are a marvel of convenience for most of us, including imprisoned criminals. As cellphones became smaller, they also became easier to smuggle into prisons, allowing convicts to conduct criminal business from inside. Luckily, you can train dogs to smell a lot of unusual things, even the plastic, metal and electronic components that make up cell phones. Now, specially trained cell phone-detecting dogs visit prisons across America, sweeping cells for contraband cells. (Psychology Today)
College Mascot Dogs
Countless colleges and universities have animal mascots, but the advantage of a canine one is that you don’t have to settle for some freshman in a silly costume to represent your sports teams. Dozens of school have live mascots, most of them being bulldogs. Some famous live dog mascots, like the University of Georgia’s Uga or Butler University’s Blue, have been around for years, passing their names from dog to dog in succession over time. There are UGA Ugas going back to the 1950s.
Medical service animals are well-documented. Dogs can be trained to detect medical emergencies as they happen, like hypoglycemia in diabetics. But seizure-alert dogs are a unique kind of service dog. For one thing, they don’t just detect seizures; they can predict them. These dogs have been known to predict seizures minutes or even several hours before they occur. Even more astonishing, the skill cannot be trained. Dogs who have this ability are born with it. Researchers theorize that the dogs are able to pick up on subtle behavioral or scent changes in seizure sufferers before an attack, but for now, the mysterious ability of seizure-alert dogs remains a mystery. (National Geographic)
Morris’ campaign is mostly symbolic, but even if he wins the office, he wouldn’t be the world’s first non-human mayor. In 1981, a Lab-Rottie mix named Bosco Ramos ran for mayor of Sunol, Calif. The dog went up again two human political rivals and defeated both, becoming America’s first dog mayor. Bosco died in his sleep 20 years ago, but he remains immensely popular in Sunol. A bronze statue of Bosco was unveiled next to the town post office in 2008. (RoadsideAmerica.com)
Next: Vote for the Cutest Dog!
Turnspit dogs were domestic working dogs who apparently were so necessary that an entire breed was created and named specifically for the task. It’s exactly what it sounds like: Turnspit dogs were bred to turn meat on a spit over a fire so it would cook evenly. Turnspit dogs had to be both fearless enough to stay close to fire and loyal enough not to eat the meat of which they were in charge. But technology made turnspit dogs’ job obsolete, and the breed is now extinct. (Gathering the Jewels)