I am expecting any moment to be called into service as a COVID-sniffing dog.
We dogs, it seems, are being asked to save the day after the humans messed things up.
Quarantine didn’t work very well. Lockdown 3 didn’t work for long. The COVID Safe App didn’t work at all. If this thing isn’t fixed pretty quickly, I could well run short of brisket and chicken wings.
Drafting dogs into service isn’t a new thing and the humans do it to us when they can’t sort it out themselves – or when they aren’t game to.
Remember how the Russians sent a dog into space to see if it was safe for humans?
They sent dogs out to carry messages and be shot at on the Western Front. They ask dogs to sniff out land mines and explosives. Now they want us to stop a pandemic.
It’s dogs work, of course, and we’re up to it – we can sniff out Parkinson’s disease, cancer and tell when an epileptic fit is coming. The bit of my otherwise exceptional brain devoted to sorting out scents is 40 times larger than yours, which means a dog smells at least 1,000 times better than a human.
Whereas you might detect a teaspoon of sugar in your coffee, the experts say a dog can detect a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic swimming pools of water. So detecting the coronavirus is a piece of cake.
But I haven’t examined the pay and conditions just yet and I don’t want to be hurried.
Did you know they are training dogs to find the coronavirus in the UK, France, in Brazil, in Chile and Argentina, in the UAE and now in Adelaide?
They say it takes a “green” dog a few months to be proficient and six weeks for a dog already trained in detecting other scents. I imagine a seasoned professional like myself would be good after a fortnight – if not straight off the beater.
They are training these mutts on sweat samples of people who have the virus without symptoms and a vet at the University of Adelaide says some dogs have shown 100 per cent accuracy.
It goes without saying that I would be in this class.
They are using COVID sniffer dogs at airports in the UAE already. They want to do that here, and at hospitals where they can give the health workers a once-over – and at aged care homes.
I don’t care for airports particularly – the humans are mostly grumpy when they arrive after a long flight and the Border Force people on the telly don’t have a sense of humour.
I am thinking the aged care homes would be a suitable location for a hound like myself – there would be quite a few pats and, most likely, the odd biscuit in the offing.
The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to wait. When this thing takes off they will want sniffer dogs checking people at the tsupermarket - or even a Butchers' Shops. This is the kind of opportunity I would need to consider carefully…for a nanosecond.
It’s hard to see any downside really, although The Conversation reported that, to avoid any potential transmission between people and dogs, the COVID sniffer dogs are regularly checked by nasal swabs, blood tests and rectal swabs. That last one could be deal-breaker for me.
In any case, they’ve been using entirely the wrong dogs. The Brits are using Cocker Spaniels, Labradors and Labradoodles, supposedly for their “doggedness.” In Adelaide they are trying out German Shepherds.
It’s only a matter of time before they come looking for a superior breed like we Chessies, at which time I will weigh up the offers. Until then, hands in your pockets, keep the mask on and hold your breath. Woof!