August 25, 2011
Meet Dixie -- The Bedbug Detecting Dog
What with the car crash on Monday and the subsequent hospitalization (see post below), I'd forgotten that I'd scheduled Western Terminators to come to the house Wednesday morning to check to be sure that the prior fumigation efforts had in fact eliminated all signs of bedbugs anywhere in the house. Fortunately they arrived just as I returned from the hospital.
Bedbugs had been detected in only one bedroom and that was the only room treated. But we wanted to be sure the invaders weren't hiding out elsewhere in the house. If they were, we'd have to go through the expense and, worst, the disruption of having the whole house treated.
For this critical job, Western uses specially trained dogs -- trained at a cost of about $30,000! After the training, they are tested by putting one or two live bedbugs and a couple of dead ones in a house. The dogs join the team when they can identify the live ones and ignore the dead ones.
So here's Dixie and her trainer arriving:
Dixie at work:
Job done (fortunately no live bugs found) Dixie relaxes by looking out the window:
This beauty is a mix of beagle and Jack Russell. The trainer prefers to use beagles mixed with another breed,. He even has one mixed with a Dalmatian!
Like retrievers, they rarely bite or get nervous around people, so they're great for jobs that necessarily involve human contact. But while retrievers are easier to train -- willing to work for a toy or praise -- they lose interest more easily too. In contrast, food restriction (where a dog doesn't eat at all unless it finds a bedbug) is the only way to get beagles willing to work, but then they'll keep at it all day.
And he said all their trained sniffers are rescue mutts -- aside from Dixie's beagle/Jack Russell mix, his other favorite is a beagle/basset mix.
What a nice welcome home!