This is actually where it all started for me, Stetson, and sniffer dog training. Well actually it’s formally know as K9 Nosework training, but we still like sniffer dog training. Anyhow, way back in the day we were visited by 2 arson dogs named Denali and Gator. They performed an awesome detection dog demonstration that still leaves me in awe today. Here’s our story from over 4 years ago.
We recently had a special visit at our Orange County Guide Dog meeting. We were joined by two arson dogs (Gator and Denali) and their handler, Susan, an arson investigator. Susan did a short demonstration with her retired arson dog named “Gator”. It is such a pleasure to see these sniffer dogs in action.
Arson Dogs – A Detection Dog Demonstration
The detection dog demonstration began with selecting three members from our group to stand in a line-up. We added a tiny bit of accelerant (flammable liquid) using a cotton swab to the top of one of the three people’s shoes. After about 20 minutes of lecture (plenty of time for the accelerant to evaporate), Gator attempted to identify the suspect (shoe with accelerant). After sniffing each shoe he sat in front of the person with accelerant on her shoe and proceeded to bark. I must admit, I was very impressed.
Gator’s second demonstration was using a spinning device with paint cans. It was somewhat like a large lazy susan with about 8 paint cans. The idea was to add some accelerant to a tiny cloth and drop it in one of the paint cans (each paint can would have a cloth, but only one had accelerant). We spun the wheel and Gator had to find the paint can with the accelerant. He did the demonstration over and over again, each time finding the correct paint can by sitting then barking.
Guide Dog Puppy In Training to Arson Dog
One of the great things about these 2 arson dogs is that they originally started in the Guide Dogs of America program. Not all Guide Dog puppies in training go on to be full fledged working Guide Dogs. Approximately 40% are removed from the program for health and temperament issues. From the Guide Dogs of America website: “To be a successful Guide Dog, many factors including health and a willingness to work come into play. If a dog in the our program does not meet the proper criteria necessary to be a guide dog they must be removed from the program… All dogs that are removed from the program for any reason we call Career Change dogs.” Career change dogs are often taken by their puppy raisers as pets, but also may move into the Arson Dog program, Search and Rescue, or other Service Dog program.
Career Change Dogs
A career change dog can also be a retired working guide dog. What happens to career change dogs who aren’t taken by their puppy raisers or handlers? The dogs will be put up for adoption…from Guide Dogs of America Website: “Currently we have such a long list of people waiting to adopt a dog (over a 6 year wait at this time) that we are no longer taking new applications to adopt a dog. You can always inquire about it in a years time.”
We’ve been through a lot since this post. My first 2 guide dog puppies, Stetson and Derby were both career changed. Derby went into the GDA adoption program and was adopted shortly afterwards. We adopted Stetson and are currently working on his K9 Nosework Training. I can’t say that he’s mastered his first scent, birch, but he’s pretty darn good at finding it.
Arson dogs are pretty cool and I’m glad some of our guide dog puppies become arson detection dogs.
We’d love to hear about you and your experiences with working dogs? Have you ever heard of an Arson Dog, K9 Nosework Training, or Sniffer Dogs? We plan on writing more about these different kinds of dog training in our future posts and we’d love to hear what you have to say in the comment section below.